Wednesday 24 July 2019

RTE transgender programme airs despite protest over interview with TV writer Graham Linehan

Graham Linehan. Photo: Rob Monk/Edge Magazine via Getty Images
Graham Linehan. Photo: Rob Monk/Edge Magazine via Getty Images
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

An RTE programme on transgender issues aired tonight, despite widespread opposition from thousands of individuals.

Dozens of transgender activists gathered at the Donnybrook campus this evening in protest over a pre-recorded Prime Time interview with Father Ted creator Graham Linehan, which they deemed offensive. 

The programme focused on young people who want to change gender and featured ten contributors representing a broad range of views on trans rights.

The controversy revolved around comments made by Mr Linehan, who said: “You do not tell kids that they have been born into the wrong body just as you don’t tell anorexics that they are fat.” 

Prior to the programme, more than 4,000 people signed a petition calling for Mr Linehan to be removed from the 'Prime Time' panel.

The inclusion of the ‘Father Ted’ writer led to complaints to both RTÉ and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland claiming Mr Linehan is not qualified to comment on the subject.

Speaking to Independent.ie, however, the Father Ted creator said that his opinion on the issue is based on difficulties faced by his transgender and lesbian friends as a result of trans activism.

In a statement, the broadcaster said: "The programme examines the exponential growth in the number of young people seeking to change gender, and the implications of the proposed new law allowing them to do so without their parents' consent.

"It also asks how society should treat 'female-only' spaces in the light of the growth in the number of transgender people."

RTE added that it was confident that viewers will find the programme to be a fair and responsible examination of an issue of considerable public importance.

Wexford couple Gwen and Bill Doyle were also interviewed about their 13-year-old child who identifies as a boy. 

They talked about the lack of support there is for children struggling with their gender identity.

“I think it started in the last class in primary school,” said Ms Doyle.

“Myself and my family would question him and say, ‘Well, do you think you’re gay?’”

“He said ‘I might be gay, but I know I’m not straight.’”

“And a year later, he felt that he was trans. But for a trans person to go through what they have to go through is very painful and challenging and needs a lot of bravery. 

“There are obviously issues that need to be talked about and that need to be investigated,” she said.

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