ECU responds to complaint about transphobic BBC article



Caroline Lowbridge penned the article which at the time was headlined; “We are being pressured into sex by some trans women” in October 2021. The BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) has finally responded to the issues raised. Unsatisfactorily, might I add.

The original article was inspired by largely anonymous Twitter accounts reaching out to the BBC journalist. The trans community noticed this was happening and warned against it at the time however this advice was not heeded, resulting in one of the poorest excuses for journalism taking over 7 months to have minor changes made to it.

Others have discussed at length the issues with the article, I covered the story as it developed on Medium before Trans Writes was even a thing. But to summarise; citing anti-trans pressure group ‘Get The L Out‘ and their self selected survey of around 100 people, a cis lesbian accused of repeated sex crimes who – after the article was published – issued a genocidal threat against trans women as a whole while also naming specific individual trans women she wanted ‘lynched’, and a handful of other cis women none of which seemed to suggest they were actually being pressured by trans women, one even specifically said it was her cis partner who suggested she was transphobic, not a trans woman…

…the BBC published an article supporting one of the most basic anti-trans tropes ever; the idea that trans women are sexual predators. Which they have then repeatedly defended the integrity of, including in this latest response to complaints via the ECU.

The response from the ECU notes that the headline was a bit misleading and that the piece didn’t do enough to show that the survey conducted by anti-trans pressure group ‘Get The L Out’ was not statistically robust. The headline has now been amended to; The lesbians who feel pressured to have sex and relationships with trans women. The content however still largely remains the same bigoted drivel it always was.

They responded to complaints that no trans voices were included in the piece by saying no-one wanted to talk to them. However one trans woman, Chelsea Poe, claims she did talk to them – specifically about the allegations of sexual violence made against the cis lesbian they cited – but no trace of her interview can be found in the piece. The ECU dismisses this issue.

This piece remains an embarrassment and activist group Trans Activism UK who have been heavily involved with the complaints campaign against the piece are elevating the complaint to the next level. In a statement posted via Laura Kate Dale’s website they said;

While their response does concede some of our complaints as being valid, it also doubles down on some troubling beliefs that are important to acknowledge.

In our view, while this is progress and a minor victory, it is far from what we were hoping to see and is ultimately not a suitable response. We have made some progress, but this response does not change our feelings about the harm the BBC has caused and risks causing again in future

Their full statement gives a lengthy explanation of where they agree and disagree with the response. Its certainly worth a read before you start writing an OFCOM complaint. If you need to see the original article in comparison to the updated article you can find an archived version here.

My personal, Gemma Stone, opinion on this is that we should escalate it as far as it will go; and then keep on complaining if we have to. It seems like a minor thing, one article about us portraying us as sexually violent – but its more than that. In my opinion a victory here is getting the article taken down and sending the message to the BBC that what they did was dangerous, harmful and will not be tolerated.

I think we should pursue that victory. I’ll write and publish my own complaint to OFCOM in the next few days, for inspiration.

Gemma Stone
Gemma Stone is a transgender writer who has been covering the rise of transphobic hate campaigning in the UK. She has written hundreds of articles dissecting aspects of transphobia including debunking blatant disinformation. She is very tired and trying her best, and hopefully having a positive impact on such a beautiful community.

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