Last November the BBC broadcast a documentary which, amongst other things, claimed that "there are an estimated 300-500 thousand people classed as transgender living in Britain." That number seemed excessive, so Newsround Blog investigated further. The programme in question, "How Straight Am I?" was made for the BBC by Roughcut TV, so I emailed them on 12th November -
Just watched your programme "How Straight Am I?" presented by Tyger Drew-Honey. After about 30 minutes into the programme Tyger mentioned that there are an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people classed as transgender living in Britain.
Please could you clarify what Tyger meant by "classed as transgender" - does it mean self-identify as transgender, or something else? Also could you let me know the source of the estimated figure?
Roughcut replied on 23rd November. They didn't explain what Tyger meant by "classed as transgender" but they did cite the source as http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-32979297
It turns out that the 300-500 thousand estimate was made by GIRES, which is basically a transgender-promoting charity. The figure arrived at was not, as you might expect, the number of people who want to swap gender. It is simply an estimate of the number of people who don't conform to gender stereotypes. So, for example, girls who love to play football might easily come under their catch-all definition.
The GIRES estimate is misleading. But why is this happening? It is because some people are deliberately trying to blur the distinction between gender and sex. So, for the purposes of promoting the concept of a large trans population, all those who don't conform with traditional rigid male and female stereotypes come under the 'trans' umbrella.
One of the consequences of this approach is that it could lead some vulnerable gender-non-conforming children into believing they're "trans"
The BBC documentary My Life: I Am Leo is an example of how things can be made worse. The programme's executive producer, Kez Margrie, said she wanted to do a story on a transgender child because "there are kids out there having a tough time." Of course some kids do have a hard time. But the vast majority of those kids do not change gender - and quite a lot of them might be lesbian, gay or bisexual . And yet nowhere in the apparently well-intentioned documentary is there any mention of these words, or of issues around sexual orientation.
In the rush to accommodate a minuscule number of transgender children it seems there is a real danger of much larger groups falling by the wayside. And this problem of LGB-erasure isn't only noticeable on children's TV - even organisations set up to challenge homophobia seem to be kowtowing to the trans agenda.
An Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH) video was released in time for this year's Trangender Day of Visibility. But nowhere does it broach the topic of sexual orientation. Furthermore this EACH document could give teachers and kids the impression that homophobia is to be taken less seriously than transphobia. You will notice, for example, that Tr*nny is the only term of abuse which has been censored. Homophobic words are printed in full throughout the document. I have tackled EACH about this, and am awaiting their response.
See also Bigoted or Brave? A Response to CBBC