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TV channel postpones controversial documentary on trans kids

Nick Duffy April 3, 2017

An Australian TV channel has postponed the broadcast of a controversial BBC documentary about transgender children.

Contentious documentary ‘Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?’ first aired on BBC Two in the UK in January, purporting to “present different views from experts and parents on gender dysphoria in children”.

The programme uncritically featured disgraced doctor Kenneth Zucker, who was sacked from a gender identity clinic following a damning review of his treatment of transgender children.

The controversial doctor had focused treatment on convincing transgender youth to “feel more secure about his or her actual gender” while encouraging parents to “set limits on things like cross-dressing” and stop them playing with “girlish” toys.

He urged parents “to steer their children toward gender-typical toys, clothes and playmates and advises them to prohibit behaviours associated with the other sex” – advice condemned as potentially harmful by trans health experts.

The BBC was flooded with complaints over the film, with trans activists alleging that the film was unbalanced and did not reflect the medical consensus or the controversy around Dr Zucker’s views.

The film was set to air on ABC2 in Australia this week, but after concerns from LGBT groups, the broadcaster has pulled it to address “concerns”.

ABC confirmed: “We will delay broadcasting Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? while we consider concerns raised about the film. New broadcast date is [to be confirmed].”

Dr Zucker served as the head of the Gender Identity Service at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) but was dismissed from his position following a review of his practices.

After the doctor’s dismissal CAMH issued an apology to all of his patients, explaining: “At CAMH, excellence is our starting point – we expect CAMH’s services to reflect the latest and best practices in the field.

“We want to apologize for the fact that not all of the practices in our childhood gender identity clinic are in step with the latest thinking.

“CAMH agrees with the reviewers that this is an opportune and somewhat natural time for re-visioning of our child and youth gender identity services. There is a tremendous need for services such as this, clinically and academically.”

In 2003 Dr Zucker published a controversial study from a researcher arguing for reparative therapy to “cure” homosexuality, though Dr Zucker strongly denies personally advocating reparative therapy for gay people.

The filmmakers said previously: “With a rise in the number of children being referred to gender clinics, this programme sensitively presents different views from experts and parents on gender dysphoria in children.

“For more than 30 years Dr Kenneth Zucker ran Canada’s biggest child gender clinic and was considered a recognised authority on childhood gender dysphoria until he lost his job. He believes he was fired for challenging the gender affirmative approach.

“This documentary examines Zucker’s methods, but it also includes significant contributions from his critics and supporters of gender affirmation, including transgender activists in Canada and leading medical experts as well as parents with differing experiences of gender dysphoria and gender reassignment.”

Related: Science just proved why trans kids need to be themselves

More: ABC, Australia, Australia, BBC, documentary, LGBT, Trans, Transgender

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