Dear BBC Upper Management and Editorial staff

You published an article by Caroline Lowbridge on BBC News titled “We’re being forced into sexby some trans women” on 26 October 2022, the day this open letter was being written.

Although the headline of the article may use the word “some”, the clear implication is that transgender women, as a minority group, pose a threat for cisgender lebians and should be subject to restrictions in the UK. 

This article suggests that transgender women pose a risk for cisgender lesbians in large enough numbers that it is newsworthy. It should be considered a common occurrence rather than something that happens in a few isolated cases. 

The article uses a flawed study that doesn’t meet BBC guidelines. It also includes anecdotal accounts by known transphobic hate group members who actively campaign for transgender individuals to lose legal recognition of their gender. 

The article is based upon a single, self-selected study of 80 people sourced from Get The L Out. This group was already united by antitrans views prior to the survey. 

According to the survey, transgender women should not be legal recognized as women and should not have access to female gendered spaces. This is because they fear that cis women will be sexually assaulted. 

This study is not in line with the BBC’s guidelines regarding using surveys to source claims in coverage. It is self-selected, has a small sample size, and clearly shows bias by those who responded. 

The article acknowledges that the study has a small sample size and is self-selected. There is no evidence to support the claim that this is a common experience.

This article presents this as a widespread problem, while simultaneously acknowledging that there isn’t any evidence beyond isolated cases and cherry-picked individual cases. In the same article as the quote below, you cite a higher than 50% figure from Get the L Out’s survey results. This implies that most cis-lesbians will have been coerced into sex with a transwoman.

“Ultimately, it has been difficult for me to determine the true scope of the problem due to the lack of research on the topic – I have only one survey to my knowledge.”

This is the survey’s organizer’s perspective. She stated that while the sample might not be representative of the wider community of lesbians, she believed it important to capture their points of views and stories’.

The article implicitly suggests that transgender people are not women. It uncritically quotes people who call transgender men men without clarifying that they ignore their legal status in the UK as women.

This article also refers to the phrase Gold Star Lesbian, which is a term used in shame to describe lesbians who have ever had sex with men. 

The term suggests a hierarchy in lesbianism. Someone who has slept and tried to identify themselves with a male partner while trying to be lesbian is less likely than someone who has never slept with one. It’s an exclusionist badge o honour that is used to keep people from identifying themselves as lesbians, even those who took a while to do so.

The cited porn actress claims that they don’t want to be sex with transgender women because they have ‘only ever slept with women’. 

This implies that transgender women are not seen as women in the context of the gold star nickname. 

The issue is not that they don’t want to sleep with someone with penis. It is that they see the transgender women as men and that they would be less of lesbians for sleeping with them. 

This reinforces the notion that “true lesbians” don’t sleep with transgender females, which is false.

This article does not speak to any transgender lesbians, giving the impression that all lesbians believe that transgender females are not women.

LGB Alliance is also mentioned in the article. The group has been granted charity status in the UK but appears to be violating the rules of conduct and behaviour for UK charities.

The LGB Alliance has a history of focusing primarily gender identity and transgender issues. Their recent LGB Alliance Conference, 21 October 2021, advertised a schedule of four panels. Three were focused on transgender subjects and/or were hosted or co-hosted by anti-trans activists. (The fourth panel seemed to be closer).

The group has not provided any evidence that they are campaigning for LGB issues (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals) such as stopping LGB conversion therapy, addressing LGB hate crime or tackling high levels of homelessness in LGB communities.

They are known to be actively biphobic and discriminatory towards all members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Some of those cited in this article claim they were called “anti-trans” for refusing to sleep with transgender women. However, they are very vocal online about wanting rights to be reversed for transgender people. This shows a history of bias. In many cases, the interviewees in this article have intentionally misrepresented why they are considered anti-trans.

“Debbie Hayton was accused of propagating hate speech towards the trans community, despite her being trans.

Although the article does not go into more detail about this statement, Debbie Hayton, a transgender woman, is allowed to speak for the piece. 

Debbie is a transgender person who is very well known for being willing to stand by the views of the anti-trans community, saying what they and those platforming them want to hear refusing to let the march go ahead until they were allowed to lead at the front of the march, handing out fliers claiming that transgender women should be banned from women’s spaces and be stripped of legal recognition, because they are all potential rapists.

They also shouted out transphobic obscenities to anyone holding a flag of transgender, misgendered people with pride flags of transgender, and threatened police action against any transgender person who was provoked by their bigotted actions.

This is an example for the types of groups that you, BBC, are citing here. You are citing groups with a strong antitrans bias. 

These survey results are from a group that believes transgender people shouldn’t feel safe at Pride and should face misgendering, slurs and claims they are rapists. This is not a neutral source.

We don’t dispute that there are likely to be isolated cases where cisgender transgender lesbians were forced into sex in the past by transgender women who considered their genital preference transphobic. However, to portray this as a widespread or common occurrence is extremely dangerous. 

It is a tragedy when anyone is coerced to sex and their consent is violated. But the answer is not to paint a whole minority as potential rapists.

This article is very similar to media coverage of gay people using public toilets in decades past. It suggests that the experiences or concerns of a small number of people should be sufficient to justify the media’s inference that gay people are a risk to sexual assault in bathrooms. (An assertion that was, in reality, fearmongering based upon lies and the enormous risk they face when revealing their transgender status. 

Transgender women are often afraid of violence if their transgender status is revealed and they accidentally anger their partner. 

Transgender women shouldn’t reveal that they have a penis, even if it is just to be a surprise, with a partner at the end of intimacy. It is extremely dangerous and can lead to violence.

This article is part of a larger context that includes a history of LGBTQ+ people being accused of being sexual predators. In the 80’s, gay and lesbian people were accused by the media of being bathroom predators. Bisexual people were also accused of being sexual predators during the 1990’s and 2000’s. Transgender people are currently being targeted in the same way.

Many groups that campaign to restrict transgender rights within the UK use homophobic talking points almost verbatim, without any evidence. Bathroom bills were introduced by the US to combat fears that transgender individuals in bathrooms could be a source of sex crimes. However, there is no evidence to suggest that such crimes were ever committed over many years.

UK campaigners against Self ID for transgender people argue that it will increase the number of sexual assaults, despite the fact that such incidents have never occurred in any other country with Self-ID.

Rare examples of sexual assaults by transgender men are presented as evidence against all transgender individuals to support a clearly anti-trans agenda. This article reinforces the notion that LGBTQ+ people can be sexual predators and that a few anecdotes are enough to paint an entire community.

This article contains anti-trans bigotry and disinformation, as well as biphobic sentiments. The article’s only Bisexual woman, who isn’t named, is portrayed as the villain forcing lesbians to have sex they don’t want. 

Given that Get The L Out was heavily cited in this piece and LGB Alliance was also mentioned, it is not surprising, given their history of disrespecting bisexual individuals.