BBC Woman’s Hour backlash over social media post ‘clarifying’ trans contestant in Brain of Britain

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BBC Woman’s Hour backlash over social media post ‘clarifying’ a trans contestant in Brain of Britain



BBC Radio 4’s general knowledge quiz, Brain of Britain, enjoyed a short-lived celebration on social media this week, revealing the exciting news that the general knowledge contest had its ‘first all-woman final’ in its 55-year history. 

Wonderful news! Except, then it wasn’t. 


Just one day later, the official BBC Woman’s Hour account retweeted their announcement, with a correction. 

The quote retweet included ‘clarification’ that one of the contestants, Emma Laslett, is a trans woman. 

Laslett is a former Mastermind contestant who picked the Stonewall Riots as her specialist subject and rocked a trans pride flag onscreen.


In the Twitter update, the BBC added: 

“The BBC has confirmed the following: ‘We can clarify that Brain of Britain‘s list of women finalists included a trans woman, a detail which was not made available to the Woman’s Hour team when they covered the story,’” the tweet read. 


The “bizarre” and “unnecessary” amendment was slammed by many online, with some calling it transphobic, while others pointed out that it ‘doesn’t change anything. It was still an all-woman final. This is information that didn’t need disclosing other than for you to stir up hatred’. 

Emma Laslett on Mastermind
Emma Laslett on Mastermind

It seems that the entirely unnecessary clarification came about after some transphobic people Twitter users took issue with the post not specifying that Laslett is trans. Of course, “took issue” is a really gentle way of saying that anti-trans Twitter did what anti-trans Twitter does and piled into the accounts’ mentions to such an extent that the production obviously felt it needed to make a correction. 

It didn’t, and queer folk on Twitter were absolutely, rightfully raging at the public service broadcaster for bowing to trolls and sharing the amendment. 


Of course, the update only further provoked the complainants on Twitter – many of whom will likely never have heard of or listened to Brain of Britain – causing them to troll Laslett online. 

She eventually responded, saying jovially:

“For the attention of anyone who feels the need to attack me for being on Brain of Britain/getting mentioned by Womans Hour/having the audacity to be trans in the public eye: Why, when you could attack me for my questionable taste in fiction and excellent fashion sense?”



In contrast to the BBC, here’s how the U.S. National Hockey League reacted to transphobes in their mentions this week. 


In contrast to the BBC, here’s how hardware store Wickes reacted to transphobes in their mentions this week back in June. 



Quite why the BBC – again, a public service broadcaster, paid for by the public – couldn’t operate with a fragment more dignity, we’re not entirely sure.


As you’ll see from the tweets below, people were very angry.