RTE Primetime and trans rights

To whom it may concern:

We at the Tipperary Feminist Collective are deeply concerned about RTE’s decision to include the views of Mr Graham Linehan in their upcoming programme about trans rights and the supposed “debate”.

There is no logical reason why a comedy writer should be invited on to a current affairs programme to discuss a topic they have no personal experience of and have no qualifications in.

Inviting someone who is not trans or who has no medical or psychiatric expertise in the subject means that their contribution is based on opinions and not lived experience or facts. This creates a dangerous false balance meaning that misinformation and potentially damaging rhetoric could be viewed as being equal to the factual content presented by those with expertise in the subject.

In the age of fake news and propaganda we rely on our media, and in this case our national broadcaster, to maintain a high level of service and to make sure that reporting on every topic is factual, respectful and more importantly protects vulnerable viewers.

As per the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland Code of Programme Standards (Section 42(2)(f)) broadcasters have a responsibility to protect audiences from harmful or offensive material. We are aware of Mr Linehan’s views of trans people and trans rights. We are aware that his views are harmful and offensive to the trans community. It is the responsibility of the broadcaster to protect the trans community from harmful and offensive views like those consistently and daily expressed by Mr Linehan.

Ireland has changed considerably over the last few years. We are now a more open, compassionate and understanding nation. As part of the Irish feminist movement we at the Tipperary Feminist Collective work with people from all parts of our society including the LGBTQI+ community. But as progressive as Ireland is we are concerned that the trans community is one which faces prejudice, discrimination and harassment.

Therefore we are asking RTE to reconsider their decision to have an anti-trans activist on their programme to discuss trans rights as this is not protecting their audience (as is their duty as a broadcaster); instead it is spreading hate which will do nothing but hurt the most vulnerable.

There are many aspects of trans rights that we need to discuss, including access to health care, discrimination in the law, societal attitudes, and how best to protect rights and increase understanding of trans issues. Treating Mr Linehan as a knowledgeable commentator will only fuel hatred and misrepresentation of trans lives. We call on RTE to reconsider.

Signed,

The Tipperary Feminist Collective

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