BBC Pride members were told this week that all trans-specific charities covering England, Scotland and Wales had been removed from Action Line following ‘audience complaints’. (Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)
The BBC has been accused of bowing down to “deliberate and orchestrated hate campaigns” after dropping trans charities covering England, Scotland and Wales from its Action Line website.
The BBC’s Pride network told members this week that the trans charities have been dropped due to “audience complaints” relating to the “increasingly contested issues relating to trans issues and children”.
“It is a complex area and the BBC needs to remain impartial,” BBC Pride said in an email.
Leading charities Mermaids, The Gender Trust, and The Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) provide vital support and advice for trans, non-binary and gender-questioning people.
On 7 July, the three trans charities – alongside the LGBT+ Foundation – were quietly dropped from the BBC’s “Gender identity: information and support” page. This came soon after senior MPs and LGBT+ activists branded the BBC “institutionally transphobic“.
Days later, the LGBT+ Foundation was reinstated to the BBC Action Line “LGBT Issues” page – but the three trans-specific charities have apparently been permanently removed without explanation.
Lui Asquith, head of legal and policy for the trans-support charity Mermaids, condemned the BBC for removing the trans charities “at a time of growing transphobia in wider society”.
They continued: “The real victims in this are the trans and gender diverse people who need support and help and this decision further isolates and ostracises those vulnerable individuals.
“We are clear: trans people are here and we are not going anywhere, even if the BBC want to bow down to deliberate and orchestrated hate campaigns. It is a disgrace that the British public service broadcaster has used a false representation of ‘balance’ to validate transphobic claims.
“To date, the BBC have dealt with this opaquely and we call for transparency urgently and as a matter of public importance.”
Mermaids has sent a Freedom of Information request to the BBC, demanding to know who was responsible for the decision to remove the trans charities, and for copies of relevant correspondence between the Women at the BBC staff network and BBC Pride staff network.
BBC Pride, which on 15 July said it had spent a week trying to find out the “rationale” for removing the information about the charities from the BBC Action Line website but admitted it still did not know, emailed members on 27 July about the removal of the trans charities.
“As you know we’ve been finding out about the decision to change the links to gender identity resources on the BBC Action Line website since the previous ones were taken down on 7 July,” the email reads.
“Updated links are now on the LGBT Issues Action Line page. We have spoken to Action Line and Editorial Policy, who advise Action Line, about the rationale behind this and they are happy to share their thinking.
“A decision to look at the gender identity information line was taken following audience complaints about the action line. This was against a backdrop of increasingly contested issues relating to trans issues and children. It is a complex area and the BBC needs to remain impartial when signposting audiences to organisations that can offer appropriate advice.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “We understand this issue is hugely important for some audiences so our Action Line LBGT Issues page links to gender identity information on the NHS website, which also links through to additional relevant resources.”