Trans campaigners say Channel 4's Genderquake 'appears to be using prejudice for commercial gain'

Channel 4

Transgender campaigners and organisations have released an open letter to Channel 4 criticising Genderquake, a season of programmes touted as an exploration of the gender debate, as "counterproductive".

Signees are particularly concerned about Genderquake: The Debate, a studio discussion hosted by Cathy Newman that promises to look at what gender means in 2018. It will discuss topics including: 'what defines our gender identity', 'how that affects our rights', 'should it be easier to change gender' and 'does gender matter'.

The letter, published by indy100 in full below, argues that the debate will give legitimacy to transphobia, prejudice and the notion that trans identities are up for discussion. This concern is presumably stoked by the presence of Australian-born academic and writer Germaine Greer on the panel, who has previously said transgender women "can't be women".

Greer is a vocal holder of the contentious opinion that including trans women in women-only spaces threaten's women's rights. In her argument, she repackages trans women's right to access services as an 'invasion' and has even compared trans women to "rapists".

Such views appear to have been reignited since the government announced plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act (2004) - including removing bureaucratic stoppages in the process of changing a person's gender on their birth certificate.

Questioning whether Channel 4 is whipping up transphobia for commercial gain, the letter points out that trans women are not a threat to anyone: in countries where similar gender recognition laws are already in place, there have been no incidents of people changing their documents for malicious purposes. In fact, trans women are already entitled to single sex services and facilities under the Equality Act (2010) in the UK.

The concerns held by Greer are misplaced and misinformed, claims the letter, which urges us to fret over the injustices overwhelmingly face by trans people instead. For example, a recent study by King's College and All About Trans showed 78 per cent of participants thought that media coverage about trans people was inaccurate.

Negative media coverage won't help the shocking number of trans people who have experienced hate crime: a study conducted by Stonewall and YouGov show that two in five trans people and three in ten non binary people have experienced a hate crime or incident directly related to their gender identity in the last 12 months. Studies have also shown that the trans community suffers from high levels of suicide, where up to 45 per cent of trans youth have attempted suicide and 84 per cent have self harmed.

Panellists will also include Caitlin Jenner, who Greer said transitioned because she was jealous of the attention bestowed on the rest of the Kardashian-Jenners, as well as transgender model Munroe Bergdorf and other speakers "with a wide range of views", according to Channel 4.

A Channel 4 spokesperson told indy100:

Our changing attitudes to gender and sexuality are some of the most hotly discussed subjects of our time and the Genderquake season sets out to explore these issues from a variety of different perspectives.  It includes Genderquake, featuring young people from across the spectrum of gender and sexuality sharing and discussing their personal experiences and opinions, an authored film from Transgender model and activist Munroe Bergdorf who goes on a personal journey to explore her own identity  – and there will be other programmes exploring gender and sexuality in a number of different ways over 2018. 

With the Genderquake debate we have sought to bring together a wide variety of voices – including inviting people from many organisations representing the trans community - to discuss the broad question of what gender means today in an open, fair and balanced way. Channel 4 is committed to providing space for debate and discussion about the big issues that are affecting society and giving the opportunity for viewers to be exposed to a range of different opinions.

The letter is published in full below and has been signed by dozens of prominent transgender and non-binary activists and campaigners - and allies - alike, including Fox Fisher, Owl, Stephanie Hirst, Juno Roche, Travis Alabanza, Kate Llewellyn, Jack Monroe and India Willoughby.

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