C: Rich Smith & Raphael Renter via Unsplash

BBC changed alleged rape victim’s statement about trans attacker to get pronouns right

The Times of London reports that the BBC changed the testimony of a rape victim because some employees feared ‘misgendering’ her transgender attacker. 

In her statement, the woman referred to her alleged rapist as “him” but insiders told The Times that the individual’s pronouns were changed to “they/them” in a bid to avoid causing offence in an article on the BBC’s website.

The victim’s statement was published in 2021 in an online BBC News article which talked about lesbians being coerced into sex with transgender women. The article subsequently received “thousands” of complaints, according to The Times.

The corporation removed every reference to “he” or “him” with “they” or “them”, according to The Times. A source informed the newspaper that the quote provided by the woman attracted heated debate prior to publication of the story.

Some BBC staffers said they believed her quote should remain as it was, while other journalists argued it should reflect the trans attacker’s “preferred she/her pronouns”.

The report from The Times coincides with an increasing sense of concern among those working for Britain’s national broadcaster that an internal diversity team is influencing what journalists can and cannot report, in turn stopping them from reporting on gender identity issues with impartiality.

The article, “We’re being pressured into sex by some trans women” which was published in October 2021, cited a self-selecting social media study by a lesbian campaign group called ‘Get The L Out’, which explored lesbian sexual experiences with trans women.

It shared the experiences of three lesbians who said they had faced opposition for saying they were not attracted to trans women.

The rape victim, who is a lesbian, told researchers: “I was too young to argue and had been brainwashed by queer theory so he was a ‘woman’ even if every fibre of my being was screaming throughout, so I agreed to go home with him. He used physical force when I changed my mind upon seeing his penis and raped me.”

The BBC then amended this statement to read: “[They] threatened to out me as a terf and risk my job if I refused to sleep with [them]. I was too young to argue and had been brainwashed by queer theory so [they were] a ‘woman’ even if every fiber of my being was screaming throughout so I agreed to go home with [them]. [They] used physical force when I changed my mind upon seeing [their] penis and raped me”.

One BBC insider expressed disbelief at the BBC’s reporting of the story, telling The Times: “I can’t think of any other situation where we would change the words of an alleged rape victim”.

In a statement, the BBC told The Times:

“It’s routine to have editorial discussions about different stories. Our only intention when deciding on language is to make things as clear as possible for audiences”.

More than 20,000 people have signed an open letter which states that the reporting of the story was “deeply flawed” and “dangerous”.

After a surge of criticism followed the piece, the BBC insisted the article was “factual and based on research into the subject”.

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