Transgender Kids: Blame CBC, not trans people, for pulling BBC documentary

Jillian Page
LGBT Perspectives

QUEBEC — Freedom of speech took a major hit in Canada this week when the CBC pulled a BBC documentary from its lineup because a handful of so-called “transgender activists” felt it “disseminates inaccurate information about trans youth and gender dysphoria, and will feed transphobia,” according to one Joshua M. Ferguson (see Toronto Star report).

The Toronto Star describes the documentary as controversial, saying it “questions what is the right approach for children with gender dysphoria, a condition in which a person’s physical or assigned gender conflicts with the gender with which they identify.”

The synopsis for the documentary reportedly said: “Increasingly, parents are encouraged to adopt a ‘gender affirmative’ approach — fully supporting their children’s change of identity. But is this approach right?”

At least one other trans activist invoked the name of Hitler in her reasoning — in a reply to me on Twitter — on why the documentary shouldn’t be seen in Canada. At that point, I hadn’t seen the documentary, but sought it out online the next day and viewed it.

I’m not sure what the fuss was about. The documentary, called Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best, is an objective report. As columnist Barbara Kay wrote in her review of the program, “it is an excellent documentary, presenting both sides of the thorny questions surrounding this issue with admirable balance, objectivity and neutrality.”

Indeed, I felt exactly the same way — and regular readers here know I am paid to be excruciatingly objective as an editor working for a mainstream newspaper. I play devil’s advocate every shift, making sure everyone gets a fair shake in our reports: the bad guys, the good guys and everyone in-between.

So, I can say with some level of expertise that Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best is objective.

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it — watch it for yourself, if interested.

The fact that a handful of transgender activists were concerned about the program is not surprising, and I am not judging them here or challenging their motives. It is their right to protest against anything they want. That’s what freedom of speech is all about. And it should be understood that this group of trans activists do not represent the greater community, which would probably be appalled by the censorship of this program. And by the resulting embarrassment as their community comes under attack by many people decrying yet another attack by trans activists on freedom of speech.

The headline on Barbara’s piece is “Questioning gender fluidity is the new blasphemy.” Here’s the first paragraph of her piece:

“The capitulation of the establishment to the politics of transgenderism has been astonishing. I’m struggling to remember any other time when a new and contested ideology has been so uncritically embraced by the powers-that-be,” writes English pundit Brendan O’Neill in a November Spectator column, titled “Questioning gender fluidity is the new blasphemy,” an excellent contribution to this ferociously contested political terrain.

That pretty much sums up how a lot of people feel today. Say anything negative about trans ideology, and you will be attacked in social media.

Maybe. But journalists are attacked every day. If we crumbled every time somebody criticized us, there would be no media. We are not afraid.

At least, most of us aren’t afraid.

It would be a mistake to blame trans activists for the fact someone in the CBC caved in to pressure from them. A CBC spokesperson told the National Post: “We felt that we were not in a position to adequately support the conversation and debate that would be sparked by the airing of the doc and so, made a decision to pull it from the schedule.”

Yes, it is a wishy-washy statement. But it also makes it clear CBC pulled the documentary. Trans activists did not storm the station and burn the film. They didn’t hack the CBC and erase files. They merely protested against it — and CBC caved.

Shame on them.

As for the trans activists, well, I will finish here with another quote from Barbara’s column, again quoting Brendan O’Neill:

 “Trans adults should enjoy the same rights as every other adult, and by the same token, their ideas, their beliefs, their faith, should be subjected to the same levels of criticism and even ridicule as everybody else’s. People have rights; their ideologies do not.”

— Jillian


3 thoughts on “Transgender Kids: Blame CBC, not trans people, for pulling BBC documentary”

  1. I watched from the BBC broadcast, and as I did have the feeling that all the comments against it were quite well over the top, I do think it was mainly showing the Zucker and cronies view, but I guess only 60/40%. So, I definitely did not have the feeling that it was ‘balanced’.
    Annoyingly it is my feeling that when it comes to LGBTQI issues and rights, the ‘balanced’ reporting of the BBC generally is primarily on the anti side.
    So, did I think that it was a good documentary? Nah!

    PS. yes, we have young transitioners in our reasonably close ring.


    1. Thank you, Angela. It’s good to see you here.

      I felt both sides were given the opportunity to express their views, in equal numbers. How well they did that is another question, but not the fault of the filmmakers.

      As for the big issue itself, perhaps I should do another post here to discuss that. But for this one, I am more concerned about censorship.

      So, I ask you: do you think it should have been censored? If so, why?


      1. Jillian, there is a difference between censoring someone and not giving them a platform to spout their bile.
        In this case the film makers are actively giving Ken Z. support to broadcast his, I think utterly flawed and discredited (the PC descrition), opinion to the World. The CBC and other broadcasters are in no way obliged to give their support to this in providing the platform for the broadcast (pun intended).
        So, not broadcasting it, even though they initially scheduled it, is no censorship.
        Sensoring someone is actively preventing them from making their opinion known to the larger public.
        Also not giving Greer an opinion to speak is no sencorship.

        I’d say you only support the broadcast of a certain message if you either support the message, or if the message is important to be known to the larger public in what ever way.
        In this case, his debunked myth is in no way important to the larger public, unless it would be to show how debunked and discredited it is to fight the same opinion among the larger public.
        In this case the documentary definitely doesn’t fulfill that task, as though it is mentioned that he has been critisized by the larger group of practitioners, that is something which is quickly overlooked. And, as already written, it is my feeling that Ken Z. his opinion did get the most prominent attention.

        So, again I did not feel the documentary to be balanced, but then also what is the use of ‘balanced’ reporting on an opinion that has been debunked and discredited.

        The current only reason to broadcast the documentary now is that it had so much publicity, which can result in that people are going to have an incorrect view about the documentary and why it was not broadcast. Just the fact that even you called it censorship will have the public opinion swing against trans activists and trans equality and rights as this gives more weight to the message of the anti-trans lobby and to Ken Z. his message.


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