Saturday 31 October 2015

Tara's Theme

I didn't really want to go anywhere near this one, but as it seems like a clear example of BBC bias here goes after all...

Another story featured on yesterday's BBC One News at Six concerned the transgender prisoner Tara Hudson's legal bid to be moved to an all-female prison. Tara (previously Aaron) Hudson had been jailed for headbutting a barman in Bristol. 

It's a story that's been widely reported and widely discussed, and one interesting element is that pretty much all of the mainstream UK media, from the Daily Mail to the Guardian and the BBC,  is now entirely in tune with one of the key demands of transgender campaigners: that transgender people should be accepted as belonging to the sex (gender) they believe themselves to belong to and that reporting about them should reflect that.

On yesterday evening's BBC news bulletin, both Clive Myrie and Duncan Kennedy showed themselves to be fully on board with this. Both the BBC newsreader and BBC reporter used exclusively female pronouns and possessive adjectives in relation to Tara Hudson - thus suggesting to me that the BBC has recently issued editorial guidance on the issue:
..."has been granted her wish", "has lived as a woman all her adult life", "she lost an appeal", "has lived as a woman all her life", "She's gone through 6 years of gender reconstruction", "For the past week she's been in an all-male prison", "She's been subject she says to hours of abuse", "Speaking before her conviction for assault, she told the BBC...", "tried to get her sentence changed...", etc.
Though I'm thoroughly liberal (and libertarian) on this this matter myself, I know there are plenty of people - from Germaine Greer to Kathy Gyngell - who do not accept that 'transgenderism' is real or that its promotion is desirable - and they refuse to be browbeaten into using words like 'she' and 'her' in relation to someone born as a man, however much that infuriates the easily-infuriated on Twitter or on university campuses.

On the above evidence, the licence-fee-funded BBC quite clearly does not agree with them. It has taken the campaigners' side (as I shall also do in what follows).

On this particular story the issue is whether a young transgender woman, convicted of a violent crime, should be housed in an all-male prison or an all-female prison. Her birth certificate and passport say she's a male but she believes herself to be a female, looks like a female and, unquestionably, would be very likely to have a particularly uncomfortable time in an all-male prison.

The question I expected Duncan Kennedy's report to raise was, 'What's the right thing to do?', and then for contrasting point of views to be aired.

That's not what happened though. The whole thrust of his report tended towards the position that Tara Hudson should be moved to an all-female prison. All of the people who appeared in his report supported that position - including her mum and one of her transgender friends. The other person who appeared was Tara herself.

And then came the really odd thing. Duncan Kennedy called Tara Hudson "Tara" in his BBC report.

That's very unusual in a news report about someone imprisoned for committing a violent crime, isn't it? Violent criminals are usually referred to by their surnames. So why call this violent criminal "Tara" here? [Even the Guardian calls her "Hudson" in its reporting of the story.]

I think the answer to that is that Duncan was obviously on her side, and seeking to put us on her side too.

His whole report felt far too much like campaigning I think. And there's far too much of that going on the BBC at the moment.


  1. Ah, but would female prisoners be uncomfortable with him, yes him, in their prison? Does their view count for anything? Do I care? No I don't.

  2. What you're seeing is the effect of the Public Sector Equality Duty of the Equality Act (2010) prohibiting discrimination on the basis of 'gender identity', plus the fact that the Transgender Equality Inquiry was under way in Parliament at the time of the report.


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