Woman’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey says producers are in danger of focusing on trans debate at expense of other issues

Woman's Hour

Woman’s Hour host Jane Garvey says its producers risk devoting too much focus to trans issues at the expense of other subjects listeners care more about.

Garvey, who is leaving BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour this month after 13 years, suggested showrunners should spend more time on “real life” issues and accept that for most listeners, trans rights are not the “most controversial or the most important thing we could be talking about”.

“It is genuinely a very, very, difficult area. We are never going to please everybody listening when we talk about it,” the longtime host suggested on Wednesday’s (16 December) episode.

“I’d also have to say from a purely practical perspective, is this the issue that vexes our audience more than any other? Do they think of it as the most controversial or the most important thing we could be talking about?

“No! I honestly don’t think they do.”
Woman’s Hour has struggled to strike the right balance on trans issues, being previously accused of “manufacturing debate” and giving a platform to those with “transphobic” views.

Jane Garvey reflected on this, saying that in the past she’d been accused of being both anti-trans and anti-women, too feminist and “not feminist enough”.

When asked by a listener whether it was time to have more interviews with trans and gender-fluid guests on Wednesday’s episode, Garvey replied: “Well, in answer to that, over the last couple of years I have interviewed more trans women than trans men on Woman’s Hour.

“So that tells you something and people need maybe to think a little bit about that.”

She added that the show deserved “fresh voices”, and said she hoped the next presenter, who will join host Emma Barnett, would be someone who is older and in their 50s with lots of life experience.
Of her departure, she added: “I must say I’m doing it with a heavy heart, but I absolutely emphatically know it’s the right thing selfishly for me and also actually for the programme as well.

“I’m self-aware enough to know that one of the things I am really going to miss is the, well let’s be honest about it, that kind of adulation you get from broadcasting. It’s just showing off.”