Hundreds were present at a demonstration organized by Trans Activism UK outside of the headquarters of the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) in London, objecting to their coverage of transgender and gender-diverse communities that advocates allege are biased and discriminatory.
It’s at least the fourth demonstration in the last three months, following the BBC’s publication of an article entitled “We’re being pressured into sex by some trans women” written by Caroline Lowbridge. Lowbridge’s article cited a “survey” of 80 people produced by an anti-trans organization claiming that it is common for trans lesbians to “pressure” cis lesbians into sexual relationships, and further quoted another anti-trans organization. The article did not include any perspectives by trans people.
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“This has been a gradual decline that has included increased uncritical platforming of anti-trans hate groups, only presenting trans people’s perspective if ‘balanced’ with an anti trans voice as a matter of policy, and presenting stories that imply, inaccurately, that trans people are a danger to the public,” one organizer told PinkNews ahead of the demonstration.
Trans Activism UK organized yesterday’s demonstration and several people spoke in tough weather conditions.
“We are very tired but so proud beyond words of our amazing community,” the organization said after thanking participants.
— scowny (@_scowny) January 8, 2022
The protest today was great. Hearing trans voices express themselves in face of an institution with the pair over our mainstrean acceptance. Thank you to everyone that came.
— 「 marlo 」 (@dumbassmutants) January 8, 2022
Another successful protest! @TransActivismUK Thank you everyone for turning up, our speakers did amazingly and our volunteer stewards and first aiders thank you for keeping everyone safe! @BBC I hope you listened and learned! #bbcbigotry #BBCScandal #TransRightsProtest pic.twitter.com/wdUCfP71JL
— Shaira Bambi (She/They) ⚧️☪️ (@ShairaBambi) January 8, 2022
Several protestors expressed their dismay not only at the one article by the BBC, but several others that have failed to impartially and respectfully depict trans and non-binary people.
“I’m non-binary, this is my community, and the BBC has been launching attacks on people like me and all these people out there today,” one protestor named Charlie told Openly News.
“I just felt it was my responsibility to turn up today,” said a protestor named Amanda, “just to support the fight against institutions like the BBC who have joined the rest of the media in attacking trans and non-binary people.”
Watch it here: pic.twitter.com/JEUEDngM0V
— shivani dave (PRON: dah-vey) (@ShivaniDave) January 8, 2022
Yesterday’s protest was planned in October right after the article’s publication, and in between a separate protest was held on November 6 that featured notable figures such as non-binary comedian Mae Martin, and a vigil was held on November 20, the Transgender Day of Remembrance, all outside of the BBC London headquarters.
Are you tired of the UK's government-sanctioned broadcasting corporation promoting a clear agenda of hate and discrimination?
Can't ignore the recurring platforming of bigots with a queerphobic agenda?
— Trans Activism UK (@TransActivismUK) October 26, 2021
In Lowbridge’s article, she profiled anonymous lesbians who said they’d received threats of violence, rape, and death for not wanting to sleep with trans women and for not “accept[ing] the idea that a penis can be a female sex organ.” Others said they had been accused of being “a genital fetishist, a pervert” or a trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) for not wanting to sleep with trans women.
One woman claimed a trans woman pressured her into having sex when she was drunk and couldn’t “have given proper consent.” Another said a trans woman raped her. Yet another compared dating trans women to being forced into “conversion therapy” to change one’s sexual orientation.
The article cited an anti-trans lesbian group called Get the L Out! which ran a small survey of 80 women already affiliated with the group. The critically flawed study found that 56 percent of respondents reported being pressured or coerced to have sex with a trans woman.
The article also quoted the anti-trans U.K. group LGB Alliance which claimed, without proof, that a “sizable minority” of trans women pressure lesbians into sex. Both LGB Alliance and Get the L Out! actively campaign against transgender civil rights, and Get the L Out! has protested Prides because of their opposition to transgender rights.
The article has since been revised, but the BBC has refused to retract it. Most of the perspectives shared in the story are presented anonymously, but one person quoted by name, Lily Cade, was removed from the article entirely after publication. Cade had been accused of sexual assault multiple times, and after the article was released, published a long tirade on her own website calling for violence against and killing of trans people, whom she describes as “vile, weak, disgusting whiny, fake-victim.”
Still, the BBC stood behind the article, which they claimed went through a “rigorous editorial process.” Since then, even BBC’s own staff has also begun objecting to the organization’s coverage of trans people in multiple “listening sessions” held by management.
The BBC has also been criticized for their decision to end their partnership with the pro-trans British LGBTQ organization Stonewall right after the article’s publication, which staff has reportedly argued further maligns their journalistic objectivity when covering trans communities.
The BBC issued a statement after yesterday’s protest, declaring, “We don’t agree with this characterisation of our output. There are many articles on the BBC website about transgender people that reflect a range of views and perspectives. We do not condone or support discrimination in any form.”
The BBC had 3 of the top 6 most engaged with online content on ‘trans’ topics in the last year.
— Helen🏳️⚧️💙 (@mimmymum) January 8, 2022
— Autopoïétique (She/her) 🏳️⚧️ (@natachakennedy) January 8, 2022
— georgia (@urghmorello) January 8, 2022
LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 08, 2022: Several hundred people with placards chant slogans & listen to speakers included Raina Lilith and Niamh Simpson during a #TransRights protest organised by @TransActivismUK at BBC Broadcasting House. (Footage by Jason N. Parkinson/Getty Images) pic.twitter.com/rCnf7ctLMJ
— Jason N. Parkinson (@JasonNParkinson) January 8, 2022