by jane fae
Content warning: transphobia, sexual assault
Poor reporting? Lack of due diligence? Or something else? Just what is the story behind the BBC’s “trans lesbian pressure” story?
It’s not often i find myself at a loss for words. I’m a writer, FFS! Words are what i do. So the fact that i am sat here, stunned, in shock at what the BBC has wrought this past week, will give you some sense of how extraordinary this “news event” has been.
Back at the start, i briefly considered de-bunking it as written by a clearly deluded reporter. This gave way, quickly, to a darker mood. I was tempted to concoct something harsher, more Frankie Boyle, dismantling the many ways the anti-trans tribunes seem content for their activism to include calls for the rape and abuse of trans people.
Then it got worse, as one of the prime movers behind that piece turned out to be not just nasty, but genocidal. And still the BBC stands by what they did; sees nothing wrong. So here, for those new to the story, is a catalogue of the evil being perpetrated in the name of clicks.
Now read on.
…with a piece on October 26 headlined lesbians pressured into sex by some trans women. I am not going to link to it. Find it if you must. All i will say here is that such a piece was ill-advised in the extreme.
There is no demographic in existence today whose every member is pure as the driven snow. That is why we do not expect to read screeds based on dubious surveys by hate groups setting out the argument of that same hate group.
Would the BBC run a story alleging some cis women are pressured into sex by lesbians? Would they write such a piece of any other group? (Sadly, i have since been informed they may have…but that still does not make it right).
It got worse…
…very quickly becoming clear that one of those quoted, a trans woman who self-describes as Canadian, Christian and Conservative was endorsing the piece’s theme through a tweet reacting to a false flag report.
That is, since 2019, anti-trans activists in the UK have been distributing stickers that pretend to be trans in origin claiming “genital preferences are transphobic”.
Had the writer of this piece failed to do due diligence? This fact was hardly a secret. From the moment these stickers began to appear, trans groups have been busy taking them down. Also, investigating their source.
In August 2020, just one month before the author appeared to start work, in earnest, on their piece, it was reported in Devon Live that police were investigating “claims the stickers are posted by agents provocateur to deliberately stir ill-feeling”.
Since then investigations by trans groups have continued, with multiple updates posted on Twitter. This is hardly secret. So it is strange that the writer missed this.
The alternative, that the writer knew and buried this fact, is given weight by the way in which this tweet is cited in their piece…as stand-alone, without any context or reference to the supposed evil trans campaign that gave rise to it. Accident? Or deliberate omission? You decide.
Hot on the heels of THAT revelation came an even more disturbing find. A second source, leant upon for a chunk of the piece, appears to be a serial sexual abuser of women. Yes. An apparently genuine piece from Adult Business News in November 2017 (absolutely NSFW!) includes a mea culpa from “Porn Valley’s Gold Star Lesbian”, Lily Cade. In it, she apologises for having hurt and abused a number of her industry co-workers by failing to respect their consent boundaries.
People should note that that alone is not reason to dismiss Cade’s testimony. Even a mass murderer may have a valid point of view on a current issue. However, in a piece about boundaries and consent, readers should have been made aware of that fact.
So, a second red flag: did the author of this piece know and choose to cover up? Or again, did they fail to do due diligence?
I thought about writing this up. So, i did as every good journalist would, and asked the BBC Press Office for comment. They stonewalled (sic). In answer to a direct question about the above — why the article platformed an abuser — they sent back what seems to have been a standard statement.
“… complex subject … different perspectives … appropriate context …rigorous editorial processes.”
Suspect it was a cut-and-paste job identical to what they sent Pink News, and cited by the latter the next day.
That, i wrote back, is not what i was asking.
Tough! Or, as they put it: “we have nothing further to add to our statement.”
The story bubbled on all through the last week. Trans activists (the real ones, as opposed to the imagined ones that the tabloid press is so fond of condemning) organised protests and a letter of complaint. The first happened, peacefully, in Bristol, Cardiff and Manchester. The latter attracted some 20,000 signatures.
Still, the BBC were not moved. It was all about the debate, doncha know? Meanwhile, insiders were telling us that BBC management were actually quite pleased with the result. Loads of clicks. People talking about BBC News! And yes: an entire minority might just have been libelled, but apart from that, what’s not to like?
(Sadly, since writing this piece, i have been informed of a similar hit piece the BBC may have run targeting another minority community).
Step forward John McManus, who covers religion and ethics for the BBC. On Tuesday of this week (2 November 2021) he weighed in with a tweet that drew direct parallels between people rejecting the “lesbian pressure” article and past failure to take concerns about Jimmy Savile.
That tweet is now deleted. But the intent was clear. A man who is supposed to know something about ethics sees no issue in slurring an entire community with implied paedophilia using the tried-and-trusted “no smoke without fire” technique.
Funny (not funny) that. Last week i produced a few tweets of my own, after the Cade revelations, talking about the “rape enablers” of BBC News. I felt bad about that. Maybe, in the heat of the moment, i was being too harsh.
In retrospect, i wonder now if i was harsh enough.
BBC Platformed a Terrorist?
Still, the story did seem to be slowly running out of steam. Then, yesterday evening, another of those dastardly Trans Activists did a thing you’d expect a BBC journalist to have done. They started mining what appears to be Lily Cade’s personal website and blog.
I say appears. Shocking content from that blog has now been widely distributed, and attributed to Ms Cade and so far, no denial has been forthcoming.
What they found there was disturbing in the extreme. For starters, a post, albeit put up after the BBC article was published that calls, in the most graphic terms for violence against named trans women. A lynching no less.
If that is not clear enough, she argues that trans women are not really women, adding that if it were up to her, she’d execute “every last one of them personally.”
This is covered in a very hard-hitting piece in Newsweek (TW for extreme violence against trans people): but having seen the original posts, not even Newsweek is able to convey the sheer wall-to-wall hate, the violence inherent in them.
Did the BBC just platform a terrorist? Only time will tell. However, the website Cade’s blog is now taken down (by the site host): and at least one report has been forwarded to the FBI detailing what she was inciting.
Cock-up? Or Conspiracy?
So that’s that? A BBC reporter pulls together a poorly researched piece. BBC management stands by it, because it kicked off debate and clicks. Someone, maybe, in some quiet back room has words and suggests they be more cautious about sources in future. End of story?
Not quite. It is true that Cade’s worst utterances appear to have been made after the BBC article was published. Still, there were clues to them earlier. In a post as far back as 2014, Cade writes about “going to war” (also NSFW) with trans (porn) actor Chelsea Poe . I’m not going to get into the rights or wrongs of what went down then.
However, this post is important for several reasons.
it demonstrates significant and longstanding hostility between Cade and the trans community, and in particular, Poe
the reporter who wrote the BBC piece has claimed, several times over, that she reached out to the trans community for comment but no-one got back. This is now directly contradicted by Poe, who claims, in a tweet highlighted here by Christa Peterson, that the BBC did speak with her but did not publish what she had to say.
This is backed up by other trans people and organisations. Transadvocate, for instance, offered to speak with the reporter about the cotton ceiling and how it was weaponised against trans people.
They also directed the reporter to a blog providing a somewhat fuller explanation of the problem with the term “cotton ceiling” and the anti-trans ideology pushing it.
Instead, the BBC decided to link to a couple of blog posts from 2008 by Roz Kaveney which can be read in a less favourable way. They reached out to Roz, but never spoke with her. According to Roz, all that the journalist said was that they wanted to talk with her about “a story”: they did not mention Roz’s posts, or provide any sort of heads up that it was specifically to do with Roz’s writings on this topic. It did not even suggest she was contacting in reference to a trans related story.
Roz is now complaining that by linking to these without providing context, or considering any of the explanatory work she has produced in the 13 years since, means that they are implying that Roz believes in coercion. This is potentially libellous, and Roz is now considering her options.
Is that all there is?
Not quite. Look again at that 2014 post and at the first comment in reply to it. The handle has a familiar ring: is the same, in fact, as an individual considered to be a prominent anti-trans campaigner. Is it them?
That’s not something i can say. Though, if you are able to contribute anything in respect of this that is not mere speculation, please get in touch.
Why is it significant? Well, if it IS who it appears to be, here we have a supposed radical feminist, member of a group not best known for its surfing of porn sites, reaching out to a porn star on the back of an anti-trans post. More: reaching out six years before a BBC reporter starts researching a piece that is mostly anti-trans slur from start to end. Seven years before that piece finally sees the light of day.
That last is an intriguing aspect to this story. Because most journalists, knocked back once, twice, on a piece, move on to the next story. This one didn’t: kept coming back time and time again until they got a yes.
Dedicated? Persistent? Or something else?
Add the false flag campaign, that could so easily have been referenced and has its roots in 2019. The selective reporting: the omissions; the people quoted (the survey from a far from unbiased anti-trans campaign group); the people NOT quoted and…
…a suspicious person might begin to wonder if this is all accident. A lack of due diligence and poor reporting? Or is there more to it?
I don’t know.
All i can say is that there is much about this story and, more, the story behind the story that is not yet told. In time, we can only hope, it will.
This piece was originally published on Medium.