BBC Documentary on Trans Kids Could be Very Damaging

Last night, BBC Two aired a documentary called Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? Sounds good on the surface, but some serious concerns were raised about the documentary before it even aired.

This was due to it heavily featuring the disgraced doctor Kenneth Zucker, who was let go from a gender identity clinic due his attempts to “cure” transgender people.  Zucker’s beliefs are loud and clear in the documentary, leading many activists to be deeply concerned about the impact of the documentary.

The description of the documentary reads: “Speaking on TV for the first time since his clinic was closed, Dr Kenneth Zucker believes he is a victim of the politicisation of transgender issues. The film presents evidence that most children with gender dysphoria eventually overcome the feelings without transitioning and questions the science behind the idea that a boy could somehow be born with a ‘female brain’ or vice versa.”

However, even this description is an out-and-out lie, as Zucker’s definition of transgender is extraorindarily loose to say the least. If a child wanders from the so-called “gender norms” even a little – then according to him, they are trans. So if a girl plays with “boys toys” or a boy plays with “girls toys” they are automatically transgender in the eyes of Zucker.

On that note, Zucker urges parents “to steer their children toward gender-typical toys, clothes and playmates and advises them to prohibit behaviors associated with the other sex” and to “set limits on things like cross-dressing”.

This drew response from well known video games critic and transgender woman Laura K Buzz, who was rightfully critical of this attitude and the documentary itself.

The show also featured other worrying elements, such as the quote “If your child said they were a dog, would you give them dog food?”

This quote in particular was touched on by the Mermaids Foundation, which represents transgender issues. Susie Green, chief executive officer of Mermaids said: “That quote in itself is incredibly inflammatory for parents of trans children. We’ve had real concern that this is going to cause them to be targeted, because it supports this idea of trans children being mentally disturbed or that they can be cured. Parents are very afraid.”

“In certain media outlets there have been a lot of negative comments around this idea of parents facilitating, or making their children be trans. To then think that Kenneth Zucker has been given a platform on the BBC, particularly, and be touted as an expert, that is going to further undermine the support and acceptance of their children. We are trying to move away from the perception of it being perceived as a psychological ailment, and this just goes backwards.”

The fact that Zucker himself and his comments were given legitimacy to some by appearing on the BBC is bad enough, but it doesn’t stop there unfortunately. A mother has come out saying that the BBC lied to her about the nature of the documentary to get her transgender child to appear on the show.

Melissa said to Gay Star News: “I’m absolutely disgusted. The producers definitely deceived us. The synopsis is obviously one-sided. I can see they baited me.”


Kenneth Zucker

Apparently, while the documentary creators did mention Zucker in passing, Melissa is adamant that it was not made clear that he would be the focus of it.

She continued: “That synopsis is embarrassing and hurtful to us as a family. It’s shaming us and saying we did the wrong thing. My daughter is very public with her transition, and she recently won a huge award from our governor general for her advocacy. This synopsis for the documentary is like throwing everything back in her face. Did they think we were a joke? Were they laughing at us while we thought we were doing a good thing? It’s very insulting.”

As we mentioned, the issues go beyond just the show itself. The attitudes shown by Zucker are not only horrid, but also inaccurate, but the damage it could do is deeply troubling. This is the BBC we’re talking about here, not some cable network no one has heard of. The BBC are credible in the eyes of many, and just the mere presence of the show on that platform lends it legitimacy.

Michelle Bridgeman, a psychotherapist for children with gender dysphoria, said: “….the problem with putting Zucker on a programme like this is it gives further weight to those voices in places like the Daily Mail who say parents who let their children live as a different gender are evil or inhumane. It can be quite destructive.”

Laurie Stafford, of the LGBT foundation in Manchester, said: “We are at a precipice in terms of trans rights in the UK and this programme is really taking us back a few years, putting forward the question of whether young children’s trans experiences are legitimate.”

The documentary is yet to air, and so far we have only seen small snippets and coverage on platforms such as BBC Newsnight. While it does feature some critics of Zucker, it still lends his potentially damaging views credibility to some, and will also cause harm to the very delicate rights of transgender people.

The show is supposed to air at 9pm tonight (Thursday 12th), but you can sign this petition to stop the show from airing. So far it has been signed by over 10,000 people.

You can also complain directly to the BBC here.

If we can, we should let the show be seen by actual experts before airing and see if it is even appropriate to air in it’s current state. Giving Kenneth Zucker and his “cures” air time on the BBC could have a long lasting impact. We are only just making slow progress now in getting the rights and feelings of transgender people in general recognised and also supporting trans kids. This not only gives ammo to transphobes, but as Laurie Stafford pointed out, it also robs legitimacy from the voices of trans people who are only just starting to be heard.

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BBC Documentary on Trans Kids Could be Very Damaging
Article Name
BBC Documentary on Trans Kids Could be Very Damaging
The upcoming BBC documentary on trans kids is damaging, as it prominently features a disgraced doctor who tries to "cure" transgender children.