Thursday, January 26, 2017

Questioning Transgenderism Is Not Transphobic

spiked |  Last week the BBC aired a documentary called Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?. It investigated the best approaches for parents to take if their child has gender-dysphoria issues. It generated immense controversy, not least for featuring the views of Kenneth Zucker (pictured), a doctor considered a leading authority on gender dysphoria until he was fired from Canada’s largest child gender clinic for allegedly practising conversion therapy.

Trans activists were so terrified of what the interviewees in the documentary might say that they started a petition demanding the documentary be shelved until it had been ‘reviewed by experts’. Eleven thousand people signed the petition. ‘No transgender experts in the UK have watched over this programme, which potentially may have a transphobic undertone’, stated Lucas Johnston, creator of the petition. ‘I have no issue with Dr Zucker having an opinion’, he continued, ‘but I do have an issue when that opinion is being spread on primetime national television to potentially millions of viewers… We are not attempting to censor an opinion or block a civil debate from occurring. We just want to have the documentary independently reviewed by an expert before it is aired.’

But if the doc had been pulled pending review by experts, then it would effectively have been banned, and Dr Zucker’s opinion would have been censored. Some interviewees in the documentary disagreed with Zucker, meaning their voices would have been silenced too. Also, if Zucker really is such a crank, as trans activists claim, wouldn’t the British public be able to see that for themselves? Allowing an expert to decide whether a TV documentary should or should not be broadcast would set a dangerous precedent. It would mean the public not being allowed to make up their minds for themselves; an expert would do it for us.

On the subject of experts, what about the more than 500 clinicians and academics who signed a petition protesting against Zucker’s dismissal? Indeed, Zucker’s former employer, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, took down from its website its review of Zucker’s practises because it was shown to contain unsubstantiated claims and one very damaging accusation that proved to be completely false.

The day before the documentary went out, the Guardian posted an article quoting ‘very scared and very worried’ activists. They were criticising a documentary none of them had seen. During production, the documentary makers approached Susanne Green, CEO of the trans charity Mermaids, to ask her if she knew anyone who had de-transitioned. She asked, ‘Why are you focusing on this angle?’. But they didn’t focus on this angle. The finished documentary features just one person who regretted transitioning. I learnt this from actually watching it. It’s always a good idea to watch things before deciding whether they’re good or bad.