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.
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.” https://t.co/2puvULsp77
— BBC Woman’s Hour (@BBCWomansHour) November 23, 2022
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’.
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 Woman‘s 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?”
(for the record, yes, I am riffing on a serious situation because that’s what I do, everybody up in arms about this needs to just stop and take a look at their life choices rather than peddling hate on the internet. Also I did not even win the quiz, so give some respect to Sarah)
— Emma of the House of Hubris, first of her name (@Houseofhubris) November 24, 2022
In contrast to the BBC, here’s how the U.S. National Hockey League reacted to transphobes in their mentions this week.
The National Hockey League said trans rights 👏 🏑 🏳️⚧️
(Swipe 👉) #LGBTQ #LGBTnews #TransRightsAreHumanRights #Queer pic.twitter.com/sBthOC42iT
— Queer Insider 🏳️🌈 🏳️⚧️ (@qitweets) November 23, 2022
In contrast to the BBC, here’s how hardware store Wickes reacted to transphobes in their mentions this week back in June.
All the vile abuse from TERFs at Wickes for supporting trans rights – and they stuck to their guns, parading the same message at @manchesterpride 🙌🏳️⚧️ pic.twitter.com/f287A9YTwt
— Benjamin Butterworth (@benjaminbutter) August 27, 2022
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.
BBC apologises for calling trans woman a woman. Guardian has 3 page transphobic propaganda spread. Cheering on an anti lgbtq mass shooting on twitter is fine and encouraged. Im just so angry
— Rose Schmits, Trans Kiln Witch™ (@RoseSchmits) November 25, 2022
I really hope BBC Woman’s Hour has reached out to offer support to this contestant, because their transphobic tweet here has almost certainly led to harassment and trolling of this individual. A deeply irresponsible and dangerous action by the BBC. https://t.co/xyhlZ39kcD
— William Hussey (@WHusseyAuthor) November 25, 2022
There was absolutely no clarification needed here. It’s an all women final. BBC Woman’s Hour doesn’t speak for me if it is bending to bigotry so readily. https://t.co/pxnfNCERGW
— Dr Zoë Ayres (@ZJAyres) November 24, 2022
The BBC has confirmed the following:
“We can clarify that Brain of Britain’s list of women finalists included a Muslim woman, a detail which was not made available to the Woman’s Hour team when they covered the story.” https://t.co/aq9JL5MdAt
— India Willoughby (@IndiaWilloughby) November 24, 2022
The BBC hates trans people. Absolutely pathetic tweet
— Katy Montgomerie 🦗 (@KatyMontgomerie) November 24, 2022
I no longer listen to Woman’s Hour, I can’t stomach the @BBC gaslighting on gender issues.
They can no longer be trusted as an impartial public broadcaster,their bias on gender gender is as insulting as it is dangerous for women and kids.#DefundtheBBC
— SimmyMc (@mc_simmy) November 23, 2022
What the BBC has done here is vile. There is a real live human being you have singled out, as what? An imposter? What are you saying? And to who? Hate spreaders and fear mongers? She has done nothing wrong, yet you treat her as though she has in the most public way.
— Shaparak Khorsandi 🌻💙💛 (@ShappiKhorsandi) November 25, 2022
What’s the point of this tweet when it’s still an all women team?
— LGBWithTheT (@LGBwiththeT) November 23, 2022
Why is this anyone’s business? They’re all women and that’s all you need to say. Shameful behaviour from whoever is running the BBC Woman’s Hour Twitter. Even worse in light of events this week. Please reconsider this kind of harmful and disrespectful behaviour.
— Deadly like a poisonous mushroom (@deadlyknitshade) November 25, 2022
How about Jewish? The BBCmight as well go all the way.
— Qichin | Bard Vtuber (@qichin_vt) November 24, 2022