Europe

BBC row erupts as broadcaster furiously rejects transphobic complaints

David Lammy clashes with reporter over trans comments

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The article, which had the headline “We’re being pressured into sex by some trans women”, was published last week. It questioned whether a lesbian is “transphobic if she does not want to have sex with trans women”.

The piece included comments from a number of lesbians who said they have been criticised for not wanting to have sex with trans women, including one who said they “had someone saying they would rather kill me than Hitler”.

It also featured a social media survey of 80 lesbians, of which 56 percent said they had been pressured or coerced to accept a trans woman as a sexual partner.

In a statement published on the complaints section of the BBC website on Monday, the corporation defended the article following criticism it was transphobic.

The broadcaster said it had “received a wide range of feedback from those who find the article challenging as well as those who welcome its publication”.

It added that the article was “carefully considered before publication” and “went through a rigorous editorial review process and fully complies with the BBC’s editorial guidelines and standards”.

The BBC said that while some have argued the piece is flawed because of the inclusion of a survey with a small sample size, the “article itself states there is little research in this area”.

It said the article stated “the survey featured was conducted on social media and is therefore self-selecting; and even the author of the survey admits it may not be a representative sample”.

The statement added: “Furthermore, there is a link to the detail of the findings which enables the reader to make up their own minds about the replies the sample generated.”

It said the article, which took months of work, “deals with a matter worthy of investigation”.

The statement continued: “We have a strong commitment to impartiality, which means we constantly consider and evaluate which stories to cover and how.

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“Impartiality is fundamental, and includes covering stories on any point of the spectrum of debate. And stories should be seen not just individually, but in the broader context of our wider coverage.

“The piece has prompted many complaints and many appreciations and we will consider all feedback carefully.”

The article prompted a furious open letter from campaign group Trans Activism UK, which was signed by more than 20,000 people.

It said the piece “dangerously frames” lesbians being pressured into sex “as a widespread issue”.

And a BBC source told the Guardian the broadcaster received 4,819 complaints about the article, although a further 5,520 people contacted the corporation approving of it.

The corporation has also seen protests outside some of its regional newsrooms in response to the piece.

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