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John Humphrys says the BBC is too ‘sympathetic’ towards transgender people

Nick Duffy October 7, 2019
Former Today host John Humphrys hit out at coverage of trans issues

Former Today host John Humphrys hit out at coverage of trans issues (Photo by Jeff Overs/Getty Images)

Former Today host John Humphrys has complained that the BBC is too ‘sympathetic’ to transgender people.

Humphrys, who quit as host of Radio 4’s Today programme after 32 years in September, has launched scathing attacks on his former employer over its coverage of LGBT+ issues.

Appearing at Cheltenham Literature Festival on Sunday, Humphrys claimed that BBC staff have a “liberal left agenda” that leads to “sympathetic” coverage on transgender issues.

He expressed fears about “the way that whole debate is moving and the effect it is having on some children”.

John Humphrys: I believe we are born men and women.

The broadcaster said: “If you take something like, for instance, transgender, [the BBC’s] mindset is such that you must, kind of, accept what the prevailing view is.

“Except that their idea of the prevailing view and, perhaps, mine might be slightly different (…) the BBC’s attitude with that sort of social development is to be immediately sympathetic, not entirely detached as I believe they should be, but sympathetic and that worries me.”

The host previously attracted flack for his on-air remarks about trans people, referring to trans women as “men who think they are women”.

According to The Guardian, he told the festival audience of his own views: “I happen to believe personally that there are not an unlimited number of genders. I believe we are born men and women.

“I also believe that there are people who are born with a serious problem, they really are born into the wrong body and they must be helped obviously.

John Humphrys in the radio studio, during a broadcast of Today, the flagship programme on BBC Radio Four.
John Humphrys in the radio studio, during a broadcast of Today, the flagship programme on BBC Radio Four. (Photo by Jeff Overs/Getty Images)

“Trans people obviously must be both helped and respected. However, I get slightly worried when large numbers of children, I emphasise children, are being told that, ‘Well yes, we think that you might be a girl, a boy, we’d better get you medical attention.’ I’m uneasy about that.

“I’m uneasy about children being told in school there are more than 100 different genders.”

Hormones are not provided to children under 16 in the UK, while surgery is not offered to under-18s. Far from being bounced into rapid treatment, trans children currently face years-long waiting lists before even receiving their first NHS appointment.

The current waiting time for a Gender Identity Development Service appointment for a transgender child is two years, according to the service’s own figures.

Today host complained about BBC becoming LGBT+ ‘mouthpiece’.

Writing in the Daily Mail days after leaving the BBC last month, Humphys had attacked the recent appointment of the BBC’s first LGBT+ correspondent, Ben Hunte.

He wrote: “I raised my eyebrows when the BBC announced it had created the new post of LGBT correspondent (…) the BBC must give a voice to minorities, but it must not act as anyone’s mouthpiece.

“That’s what lobbyists and public relations people do. To confuse the two is to undermine the job of a journalist.”

More: BBC, John Humphrys, Radio 4, Trans

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