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BBC issues warning over presenter's 'transgender' comments

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A television presenter has been issued a warning by the BBC, after she said that men who have had 'sex reassignment' surgery are not real women. 

Dame Jenni Murray, the host of BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, was issued an impartiality warning after an ITV presenter complained. 

Murray had said in an article in the Sunday Times that a sex change can't make a man a "real woman".

'Vicious, vulgar and threatening debate'

In her Sunday Times article, Jenni Murray acknowledged: 

"I make my position plain because I know that in writing this article I am entering into the most controversial and, at times, vicious, vulgar and threatening debate of our day."

She also clearly stated that those who identify as the opposite sex to which they are born should be treated with respect and protected from bullying and violence. 

'Not supported by credible scientific evidence'

But she also argued that men who have had 'sex reassignment surgery' are not real women. Later, she continued by disputing the claims that an individual's brain and body have separate genders:

"Ah yes, the male brain. How often do we hear about the male or female brain and the oft-repeated mantra, applied to males and females alike, 'I was born into the wrong body'. 

"Research carried out by the distinguished scientists Cordelia Fine and Lise Eliot can find no evidence for such claims. They hold to the fact that all children are born with the potential to develop their own unique characteristics of behaviour, talent and personality, regardless of biological sex. 

"They say that the idea that the brain and the body are split, meaning it is possible to have the brain of one sex and the body of the opposite, is very recent and is not supported by credible scientific evidence."

Dame Murray also spoke out against the British Medical Association's recent guidelines that tell doctors not to call pregnant women 'mothers', in case 'transgender' individuals are offended. 

'Real woman' 

In her article Murray referred to Loose Women TV presenter 'India Willoughby', a man who has had sex reassignment surgery. She said: 

"India held firmly to her belief that she was a 'real woman', ignoring the fact that she had spent all of her life before her transition enjoying the privileged position in our society generally accorded to a man."

Calls for dismissal

'India Willoughby' complained about Jenni Murray's comments and called for her dismissal. 

"I called Jenni transphobic that day - and I haven't changed my mind since," he said. 

"The fact that she's still allowed to host Woman's Hour while spouting this bile is ridiculous and she should finally be sacked.

"The world has changed and, as a public-funded broadcaster the BBC know that more than anyone, Jenni Murray is a dinosaur and we all know what happened to them. Let's hope a similar extinction is coming for her in the not too distant future."

'Should remain impartial'

In response, the BBC told Murray that she must remain neutral on controversial topics, issuing her with an impartiality warning:

"Jenni Murray is a freelance journalist and these were her own views, however we have reminded her that presenters should remain impartial on controversial topics covered by their BBC programmes," a spokesman said. 

'Violent assault on free speech' 

Writing in the Telegraph, journalist Angela Epstein described the attempt to silence Dame Murray as "dangerous". 

"Her critics merely want her (and you) to shut up, and I’m afraid their call for her dismissal is just the usual violent assault on free speech masquerading as political correctness," she said. 

"Murray's opinions are firmly held and perfectly lawful; it’s the attempt to smother those opinions that is dangerous."

Shutting down debate

Commenting on the news, Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said: "This journalist has been issued a warning for stating an opinion that is solidly based on biological facts. 

"'Sex reassignment' surgery cannot alter a man's DNA to make it a woman's, and vice versa. It is extremely concerning that even freelance journalists are now being told that they cannot say so. This demonstrates the power the LGBT lobby has to shut down debate around this issue – even when the arguments are reasoned and scientific.

"The comments made towards Dame Murray in response were far more 'partial' yet 'India Willoughby' has been given no warning."

Related Links:
Jenni Murray: Be trans, be proud, but don't call yourself a "real woman" (Times)
BBC issues Dame Jenni Murray with warning over her transgender comments (Telegraph)
The PC backlash against Jenni Murray can't change the facts: trans women are not real women (Telegraph)