Transgender activists are furious the BBC is to show a documentary featuring an expert who believes that helping children with gender issues feel comfortable in their own bodies is preferable to encouraging them to live as the opposite sex.
Activists concerned about the film Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? say they fear that the decision of the BBC to give airtime to the views of Canadian psychologist Kenneth Zucker will “damage the lives of trans children” and lend weight to opinions “found in places like the Daily Mail”.
Zucker was fired and the world-renowned child gender clinic he ran for 30 years was shut down at the end of 2015. Many academics in the field of sex research say this was as a result of a sustained political campaign by activists in a fight which “resembles other culture war battles”.
The Canadian psychologist disagrees with the now-widely favoured “gender affirmative” approach which identifies young children as being transgender and encourages them to ‘socially transition’ by changing their name and clothes, among other things.
Clinicians at Zucker’s Gender Identity Clinic took a more cautious approach, believing it preferable to first “help children feel comfortable in their own bodies” with the view that “gender is quite malleable at a young age and gender dysphoria will likely resolve itself with time”, according to New York magazine.
“The problem with putting Zucker on a programme like this is it gives further weight to those voices in places like the Daily Mail who say parents who let their children live as a different gender are evil or inhumane. It can be quite destructive,” Michelle Bridgeman, a psychotherapist for children with gender dysphoria told The Guardian.
Susanne Green, the CEO of Mermaids UK — a charity which supports ‘trans children and their parents’ branded the BBC “irresponsible” for broadcasting a show which she believes will make young people’s lives “so much worse”.
“The BBC have not thought for a second for how this will damage the lives of trans children, and their fight every day to be authentic. The negative environment will only be increased because it’s being done by a mainstream channel. People respect the BBC, and they believe them,” she told GayStarNews.
Green also blasted the BBC documentary’s decision to discuss people who regret ‘transitioning’ to the opposite gender. “Why are you focusing on this angle?” she reported asking the public broadcasting corporation.
“It’s very, very rare. When people transition, in the vast majority [sic], their lives become far better. They gave me a spiel about being ‘balanced’ and showing both sides of the story,” she said.
The idea of the programme is “very concerning” according to Helen Belcher of Trans Media Watch, who warned that the promotional material for the show alone “may well already have caused harm to trans children and their families.
“The BBC, as the nation’s broadcaster, should not be supporting the view that there is a legitimate debate to be had over being trans”, the Liberal Democrat activist said to GayStarNews.