Trans campaigners have called for Father Ted and The IT Crowd writer Graham Linehan to be edited out of an RTÉ television show on trans issues.
Ireland’s national public service broadcaster RTÉ is set to air an episode of its current affairs programme Prime Time on Tuesday night (January 22), which will feature ten contributors and discuss the “growth in the number of young people seeking to change gender” in Ireland.
The show will look at the country’s 2015 Gender Recognition Act, which has been praised by Irish trans campaigners. The law allows people above the age of 18 to legally change their gender using a system of self-identification, meaning that they do not need to have a medical assessment to do so.
Trans campaigners call for removal of Graham Linehan from RTÉ show on trans issues
Linehan has previously linked transgender rights activism to Nazism and has repeatedly spoken out against the work of Mermaids UK, which supports gender diverse children, including starting a Mumsnet thread in a bid to stop a £500,000 Big Lottery donation to the charity.
A promotional clip for the pre-recorded show featuring Linehan sparked the creation of a Change.org petition calling for the screenwriter to be removed from the Prime Time programme. The petition has received more than 5,500 signatures at the time of publication.
PinkNews has contacted Linehan’s representative for comment.
Sara Phillips, chair of Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), and who is also featured in the upcoming Prime Time show, said that the trans community’s response to the programme was justified.
“It is critically important that contributions to the discussion are knowledgable, nuanced and above all, respectful of trans people and their experiences.”
— Sara Phillips, chair of TENI
“The focus of tonight’s programme is a serious and sensitive topic and relates to the lived experience of many young trans people and their families,” Phillips told PinkNews.
“It is, therefore, critically important that contributions to the discussion are knowledgable, nuanced and above all, respectful of trans people and their experiences.
“As such, the reaction of the trans community to the inclusion of contributors who have been vocally disparaging of trans people and who have no direct knowledge or expertise in this area is entirely understandable and should be listened to.”
Ollie Bell, a member of Trans Pride Dublin, which held the Irish capital’s first trans pride event in July, said that they wanted RTÉ to edit Linehan out of the show.
“Our lives are not up for debate. It is disgraceful that Graham Linehan has been invited to speak when he holds such horrific transphobic views, he compares us to Nazis and is going after Mermaids, a charity that helps trans youth,” Bell told PinkNews.
“He has no right to talk about trans issues, this is obviously RTÉ trying to create a fake balance in the debate.
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“Trans activists should be invited to debate and challenge his views, as well as talk about the need for better trans healthcare.”
“Our lives are not up for debate. It is disgraceful that Graham Linehan has been invited to speak when he holds such horrific transphobic views.”
— Ollie Bell, Trans Pride Dublin member
An RTÉ spokesperson, meanwhile, has defended the format of the show.
“Ten contributors representing a broad range of views are interviewed,” the spokesperson told The Times.
“The programme examines the exponential growth in the number of young people seeking to change gender, and the implications of the proposed new law allowing them to do so without their parents’ consent.”
Trans campaigners set to protest Prime Time episode
Trans campaigners are expected to protest outside RTÉ’s studios in Dublin on Tuesday evening.
Linehan defended his views on transgender people to The Irish Times in an interview published on Tuesday.
“Some people don’t see the problem repeating the dogma [that] trans women are women,” he said.
The writer added that he had a problem with “privileged white people saying you must accept anyone who says they are a woman.”