Critics calling for the sacking of Dame Jenni Murray because of her comments on transsexualism are dressing up their “assault on free speech” as political correctness, a commentator has warned.
Dame Jenni said in The Sunday Times that sex is defined at birth, and not selected at a later date.
Following the comments, the BBC was urged to sack her from Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, which she currently presents. It has since “reminded” the presenter to “remain impartial on controversial topics” covered by her programme.
India Willoughby, a man who now lives as a woman, said the presenter was a “dinosaur”, adding: “Let’s hope a similar extinction is coming for her in the not too distant future”.
But commentator Angela Epstein described the criticism as “faux outrage”.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, she said: “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.
“Murray’s opinions are firmly held and perfectly lawful; it’s the attempt to smother those opinions that is dangerous.”
In its editorial on Monday, the newspaper said Dame Jenni’s argument that “men who change sex have not had the experience of growing up as a woman” was a “pretty unexceptionable observation”.
“Real intolerance lies with those who deny free speech and seek to shut down any discussion that does not conform to their idea of what is right”, it concluded.
In her newspaper article, Dame Jenni criticised moves to allow men who live as women to become guide leaders and the attempted renaming of breast cancer to “chest cancer”.
She also highlighted that there was a “lot of fear” from academics about the issue.
“Your sex, male or female, is what you’re born with”, Dame Jenni stated.
Entitled to views
After pressure from some transsexual activists, a BBC spokesman said the presenter’s views were her own, but “we have reminded her that presenters should remain impartial on controversial topics covered by their BBC programmes”.
In response, Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said that the BBC had “overstepped the mark”.
Fellow Conservative Angie Bray said: “She is totally entitled to her views and if she wishes to express these in a personal interview, she should be able to”.
The BBC has previously come under fire for biased reporting on the issue of transsexualism.
In October last year, its news website declared that the NHS is “not transgender-friendly enough”, based on the testimony of one transsexual patient.
Also in October, parents and MPs criticised a programme about a boy living as a girl which was aimed at young children.
And in September 2016, Times columnist Janice Turner criticised a Radio 4 programme in which presenter Jennifer Tracey interviewed a 10-year-old girl, whose parents used the internet to help her decide she is ‘non-binary’ – neither male nor female.