Patrick West

The BBC’s gender equality project has come unstuck

(Credit: Getty images)

The BBC’s 50:50 project is designed to empower women. One of its targets is to ensure that half of the contributors are female. But while this aim might have been questionable from the outset – is this really something the BBC should be focusing on? – its mission has been undermined: the BBC has admitted it does ‘not monitor whether a contributor’s gender differs from their sex registers at birth’. 

In effect, trans women, who were born as male, will be counted as women. ‘The BBC has now ‘disappeared’ women as a sex class and instead monitors ‘gender identity’,’ fumed one senior BBC insider, one of many Corporation staff who have protested about the change.

With the ascendancy of the trans debate, there are vast numbers of Brits who worry about the plight of women today, and indeed the very existence of the category ‘women’ in the eyes of society. There are many men who sympathise not merely on rational and intellectual grounds; we also observe the unfolding vicissitudes of today’s gender and sex wars vicariously, through the eyes of our mothers, sisters, daughters and nieces. Unfortunately, in this case, it’s hard to sympathise.

In effect, trans women, who were born as male, will be counted as women

Rather than decry the fact that those born with a penis and with XY chromosomes can now pass themselves off as women, it should have been asked why it was deemed rational and fair in the first place to accord 50:50 representation on the airwaves according to genitals and chromosomes. There’s nothing progressive or judicious about quotas which have their foundation in physiognomy and dangly bits randomly assigned by nature.

The 50:50 project also seeks to monitor gender, ethnicity and disability of phone-in show callers, the reporters and experts on BBC News, the quotes on the BBC website and musicians in orchestras.

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