Mermaids and other trans groups dropped by BBC Advice Line service The Times 30.07.20

The original article is here.

The BBC has dropped leading transgender charities from its Advice Line for viewers.

Mermaids, which supports transgender children and young people, is the best-known trans group to be removed from the service, which provides guidance to audiences after they have seen a programme. The Gender Trust and the Gender Identity Research and Education Society have also been removed.

The BBC said that it had removed the groups after receiving complaints about its gender identity information and the need to “remain impartial”.

Mermaids has had notable supporters including Prince Harry. Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, asked fans to donate to the charity last month after JK Rowling was accused of transphobia.

Mermaids advises schools, the police and social workers but has been accused of promoting gender reassignment for children. It is run by Susie Green, a former IT consultant with no medical training, who took her child to Thailand, aged 16, for genital surgery that is illegal in Britain and now in Thailand.

A review of Mermaids carried out by the National Lottery after controversy over a £500,000 grant last year found that the charity did not push families towards any particular medical pathway, and approved the funding.

The charities appear to have become victims of a dispute between trans activists and campaigners who believe that the rights and safety of women are being undermined. The BBC wrote in an email to staff: “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.”

Viewers or those with children with gender dysphoria are told to contact their GP or to go to the NHS website.

Mermaids said: “We have submitted a freedom of information request to the BBC to better understand the editorial policy department’s decision relating to the Action Line page. We are concerned that all transgender charities covering England, Wales and Scotland have been removed from the BBC website, precisely when they are needed most and we call for a transparent and public statement from the BBC on its position relating to this issue.”

Last month a group of MPs and equalities activists accused the BBC of being “institutionally transphobic”.

The BBC Pride group, which represents gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans staff, said it had asked why the charities had been removed from the advice service. The group said: “We’re acutely aware of the concern and anger that the situation has created, particularly for our trans colleagues and communities.”

The BBC 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.”