An open letter to the BBC from Transgender Trend

Dear BBC

We are writing to you as a matter of urgency concerning an article on the BBC website by Ben Hunte.

Mr Hunte misrepresents the High Court ruling of December 1st 2020 Bell v Tavistock saying that the ruling “restricts children under 16 from accessing “puberty-blocking” drugs.” The ruling in fact centred on the question of informed consent, with the three High Court judges saying that it was ‘highly unlikely’ and ‘very doubtful’ that children under 16 could consent to these drug treatments.

Their carefully worded ruling spelled out that there is no evidence that puberty blockers are ‘fully reversible’ and that they are in fact the first stage of a medical pathway which very few children leave. This fact was confirmed by the Tavistock’s own research, not published until after the court ruling, which revealed that 98% of children who were given blockers as part of their own Early Intervention trial went on to take cross-sex hormones. The court accepted evidence that cross-sex hormones have serious physical consequences, including loss of fertility and full sexual function, with profound long-term risks and consequences.

The court also ruled that treatment with puberty blockers is experimental. The judges’ conclusion was that children cannot consent to life-changing treatment which has no evidential basis.

Mr Hunte repeats throughout the article the unfounded assertion that without puberty blockers children and young people are more likely to attempt suicide. He should know, as a BBC journalist, that it is wrong to speculate about the reasons for suicide. The young people and their parents he quotes all talk about suicide and suicidal ideation as if it is a direct result of not being given puberty blockers. There is no evidence to support this idea as is shown by this research from Professor Michael Biggs. I’d urge you and Mr Hunte to read it.

The article ends by quoting a GP, Dr Adrian Harrop, who has no specialist knowledge of gender dysphoria. Mr Hunte then quotes from a letter from a business called GenderGP which he claims has been seen “exclusively by the BBC”. No reputable news organisation should be quoting GenderGP without referencing the fact that it is run from outside the UK by Dr Helen Webberley, a GP who was linked to one of the four, thankfully rare, suicides by trans-identified young people in the years 2008-18. She is currently suspended by the GMC. She has set up a business selling prescriptions for puberty blockers online. Her activities are now in direct conflict with the UK court which has ruled that these off-label drugs are experimental and have no evidential basis as to their benefits.

While this article remains online, and available to readers of any age, the BBC is in danger of promoting unfounded claims about suicide and promoting an off-shore business selling drugs which the High Court has ruled should only be prescribed after applying to court.

The High Court refused the Tavistock permission to appeal the judgment on 1 December, and the detailed grounds for that refusal are in the public domain. The Tavistock was given until today to apply directly to the Appeals Court for permission to appeal and the Tavistock must now await the court’s decision.

We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.   

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Edmund

    I understand Adrian Harrop himself is under scrutiny from the GMC at this time so not a good look for the BBC

  2. joanne

    Address to contact to support this letter? At bbc?

    1. Kate Graham

      Their website has a complaints tag.

  3. Simon Baddeley

    Well done Transgender Trend for such a swift, civil and well-informed rebuttal of biased reporting by an agency that ought to do a better job checking its sources.

  4. K

    Thank you. An excellent, authoritative response to an appalling piece of BBC journalism.
    Let us hope that the BBC reviews its editorial position and behaves in a professional and socially responsible manner.

  5. Lily

    How many of you has a child with gender dysphoria? Where’s the data regarding the lack of funding and research for the condition? Why these kids have to wait over 3 years to get professional support? Why no one is highlighting the poor service when it comes to our kids and their mental health? Why a child’s condition becomes everyone’s matter for the wrong reasons? I wish people could put as much anger and pressure to find a solution instead of keep trying to cover an uncomfortable topic.

    1. Kate Graham

      Ironic that that is exactly what Transgender Trend has been campaigning for over these long years.
      Stephanie has worked on little or no pay, almost single handedly, to tackle this issue in schools.
      Support and assistance is whats required here, not unfounded criticism based on general ignorance, from those who come to this debacle late and uninformed.

  6. PetuniaCat

    Harrop is a Twitter troll. Info easily obtained by looking at his feed.

  7. Ron Arts

    It’s all terrible for the children affected (and there are so many who regret it and detransition in their twenties) but at least I hope this will allow them to sue Tavistock out of existence, and put those responsible in jail.

  8. Jo M

    This is entirely consistent with the BBC’s pushing of ‘affirmation only’ – in its schools’ materials, its programming for children directly on CBBC, and it online content aimed and children, teens and young adults. It has been complicit, right since the CBBC documentary “I am Leo” and Polly Carmichael’s breezy reference therein to ‘safe, reversible’ puberty blockers to creating a narrative that leads from social transitioning to dysphoria to puberty blockers. The great work in the last year on Newsnight isn’t enough to wipe away the taint.

  9. Floriana

    I’ve just sent a long complaint to BBC pointing out irresponsible reporting, inaccuracies and ‘trans’ dogma in that article. The BBC is as much to blame as the internet for pushing children into this unhealthy way of thinking. They are relentless! Just recently: When Mum becomes Dad, Pronoun Day, drag queen stuff, now this.

  10. Peter Shutak

    I wonder whether the BBC has responded to this? Is there an update? I complained about Hunte’s item back in January using the BBC complaints procedure, and am still waiting for a response. The BBC complaints unit advised me to complain to Ofcom which I have now done.

    1. Peter Shutak

      Have you had a response? I complained in January – still nothing even though I have followed up on my complaint twice now. The complaints unit have, in fact, advised me to take the matter up with Ofcom which I have done. I’m now taking it up with my MP.

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