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BBC’s Emily Maitlis accused of breaching impartiality by comparing trans women to ‘predatory’ men

Vic Parsons December 6, 2019
Emily Maitlis

Emily Maitlis on the Newsnight show that discussed the Lib Dems' manifesto promise to reform the Gender Recognition Act. (BBC)

Senior BBC presenter Emily Maitlis has come under fire for tweeting her opinions about gender recognition laws, the day after tackling the Lib Dem manifesto commitment to reforming the law live on air.

Emily Maitlis tweeted her opinions about Gender Recognition Act reforms the day after she grilled Lib Dem politician Dr Sarah Wollaston about the Lib Dems’ manifesto pledge to make it simpler for transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificates.

“We discussed gender self identification last night #newsnight. It’s not ‘these people’. It’s the fact a blanket law would allow any predatory man to self identify as female to gain access to women. That’s the danger,” Maitlis tweeted on 5 December.

Trans journalist Christine Hart replied, “Trans people already use the bathroom of choice. The GRA reforms don’t change that.”

And the mum of a trans kid, known on twitter as Fierce Mum, said: “Shocking levels of hate from a BBC journalist. Trans women, trans girls like my daughter, face so much hate & prejudice. How dare you make lives harder with nonsense fear-mongering. Of course girls like my daughter use women and girls facilities already. But you must know that.”

“No one shows birth certificates to access gendered services. Access is guaranteed under EA 2010. UK’s discriminatory rules on updating birth certificate is indicative of wider ignorance and bigotry. In many other countries trans children are fully respected in their identity,” Fierce Mum added.

Sue Pascoe, a trans woman, said that Maitlis’ remarks were “blatant misinformation” and “scaremongering”.

A trans legal network accused Maitlis of being both wrong and not impartial, while the LGBT+ staff network at Edinburgh University criticised her for lacking objectivity.

A reply to Emily Maitlis from the UK’s first Trans Equality Legal Initiative. (Twitter)
The University of Edinburgh’s staff LGBT+ network was another account to call out Maitlis’ comments. (Twitter)

The Lib Dems’ manifesto promises to trans people include: removing the requirement for trans people to get medical certification to change the gender on their birth certificate, legally recognising non-binary people and introducing an X gender option on passports for intersex and non-binary people who wish to use them.

BBC editorial guidance on social-media use state that “taking a public position on an issued of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or any other ‘controversial subject’ is likely to be incompatible with some BBC roles” and that “the risk is greater where the public expressions of opinion overlap with the area of the individual’s work”.

Maitlis tweeted her opinion about “gender self identification” less than 24 hours after the Newsnight segment about the Lib Dem’s general election manifesto promises to reform the GRA.

She was also a presenter on a recent Newsnight programme on “detransitioners“, which saw the BBC defend its decision to dedicate 57 minutes of primetime TV and radio to detransitioners despite “unverified claims” about their number.

The detransitioners programme saw three white straight cisgender journalists report on trans issues yet only include one trans person in the whole programme, while showing footage from an anti-trans group greatly admired by a prominent right-wing, anti-abortion commentator in the US.

The programme also failed to balance the stories of the less than one percent of people who have detransitioned, after going through some form of gender transition, with the 99 per cent of trans people who are happy after transitioning.

PinkNews has contacted the BBC for comment.

More: BBC Bias, Dr Sarah Wollaston, emily maitlis, gender recognition act, lib dems

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