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BBC defends story following criticism it was ‘transphobic and poorly evidenced’

(Ian West/PA)
(Ian West/PA)

The BBC has defended an article which featured interviews with lesbians who have said they have been pressured into having sex with trans women.

The broadcaster said in a statement the article, which had the headline We’re being pressured into sex by some trans women, had prompted “many complaints” and had been branded “transphobic and poorly evidenced”.

The piece, published last week, questioned whether a lesbian is “transphobic if she does not want to have sex with trans women”.

BBC Stock
(Ian West/PA)

It also included comments from a number of lesbians who said they have been criticised for not wanting to have sex with trans women, including one who said they “had someone saying they would rather kill me than Hitler”.

The article also included a social media survey of 80 lesbians, of which 56% said they had been pressured or coerced to accept a trans woman as a sexual partner.

An open letter to the BBC from campaign group Trans Activism UK, which was signed by more than 20,000 people, criticised the article.

It said the piece “dangerously frames” lesbians being pressured into sex “as a widespread issue”.

In a statement on Monday, the BBC said it had received “a wide range of feedback from those who find the article challenging as well as those who welcome its publication”.

It added that while some have argued the piece is flawed because of the inclusion of a survey with a small sample size, the “article itself states there is little research in this area”.

BBC Stock
(Ian West/PA)

The statement, published on the complaints section of the BBC website, said the article stated “the survey featured was conducted on social media and is therefore self-selecting; and even the author of the survey admits it may not be a representative sample”.

“Furthermore, there is a link to the detail of the findings which enables the reader to make up their own minds about the replies the sample generated.”

The broadcaster added the article “went through a rigorous editorial review process and fully complies with the BBC’s editorial guidelines and standards”.

It added the article, which took months of work, “deals with a matter worthy of investigation”.

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