By pushprojects, Jan 13 2017 08:52AM
Last night we watched BBC2's documentary, 'Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best' with interest. Aware of the controversy and outrage surrounding the programme before its broadcast, we were apprehensive about viewing it. Despite being billed as a balanced documentary, we found it to be quite the opposite.
While there were positive voices during the documentary, the programme overall came across as an attack on trans people, medical professionals and "activists" who support a child-centric affirmative approach to young people who are unsure of their gender identity.
At Proud Youth, we regularly support young trans people. The youngest has been 9 years old, but we typically support teenagers. We see first hand the damage that is done when young trans people are not listened to or supported to be who they are. We have helped young trans people who have considered or attempted suicide because their parents, and even medical professionals, will not support them. We have spoken to CAMHS workers who have called us because they don't know how to work with young trans people. We have intervened when a local school put a trans student in isolation on several occasions to "protect other students and parents" when the student wore a skirt to school. And time & time again we have encountered young trans people entering adulthood who would be in a much happier position if they had been listened to, supported and had the correct intervention at a young age.
While we believe in freedom of speech and the right to hold alternative points of view, we also believe that documentaries such as this one are damaging to trans people, as are the non-child centric affirmative approaches to young people who are unsure of their gender identity. It is not an exaggeration to say that this has the power to kill trans people. You only need to look at the tragic cases of Leelah Alcorn and a numerous other trans people who have taken their lives. And of course, we have seen such case first hand, when young trans people have self-harmed, or threatened or attemted suicide.
Ultimately, when the documentary finished, we felt a huge sense of disappointment that the BBC would air such a biased and damaging programme. We also feel angry and deeply concerned for trans people, and not just because of this documentary.
Last night there were scores of people being transphobic on Twitter about someone who had appeared on Question Time. There have also been awful articles in the media about the "first man to get pregnant", like this person's life some kind of freak show.
Also this week, we have ben deeply disappointed in LGBT History Month/Schools Out's failure to condemn the appearance of Julie Bindel at an event in February. Bindel is well-known for her anti-trans views, and we cannot comprehend why she would be allowed to speak at an inclusive LGBT+ event. The statements that LGBT History Month have released on social media have come across as dismissive of the concerns that trans people and allies are raising. Although LGBT History Month as a national organisation are not directly organising the event that Julie Bindel is speaking at, they have it in their power to remove the event from their calendar and condemn the booking of Bindel. However, they chosen not to do that.
Trans people deserve more than this, and we will continue to support the trans community as much as possible. We will continue running our drop-ins, which provide a safe, welcoming, inclusive space for young trans people. We will continue to support trans people by email and telephone. And we will continue to campaign and lobby for the rights and freedoms of trans people, both legally and socially.
We will always be at your side.