Trans and non-binary participants in Gender Wars documentary accuse Channel 4 of ‘misleading’ them

Kathleen Stock during a video call.

Participants in Channel 4’s upcoming documentary Gender Wars have accused the broadcaster of “misleading” them and said they “did not agree” to take part in the film viewers will see. 

The documentary, which focuses on trans-exclusionary professor Kathleen Stock, claims to attempt to answer the dog-whistle question “what is a woman?”

But ahead of its broadcast, the film’s participants have claimed they weren’t informed of Stock’s involvement and were “shocked” to find that “this is a film about Kathleen Stock”. 

In a blog post created by transgender and non-binary participants in Gender Wars and published on Saturday (27 May), the group claim they were “misled” and “misinformed” regarding the true nature of the film. 

Dr Finn Mackay, senior lecturer at UWE Bristol, and Dr Stephen Whittle OBE, emeritus professor of equalities law at Manchester Metropolitan University, are two of the seven participant signatures featured in the post. 

‘None of us were informed’

The group state they were “all shocked” and expressed their “dismay and anger to those responsible” regarding the reality of the film.

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This anger, they confirm “led to minor edits” which they feel are “insufficient to change the primary narrative arc of the film”. 

“None of us were informed that we would feature in a film about the gender-critical feminist Kathleen Stock,” they claim.

According to the post, Dr Whittle initially declined to participate in the documentary, following working on the channel’s controversial debate on gender in 2018, which was heavily criticised after trans panelists were heckled throughout by the audience.

The channel’s Genderquake: The Debate was part of a series of programmes exploring changes in how gender is seen in modern society, and featured trans Republican Caitlyn Jenner and trans model and activist Munroe Bergdorf, as well as feminist author Germaine Greer and journalist Sarah Ditum.

Dr Whittle – along with the other trans and non-binary participants – wrote that they eventually agreed to contribute to the documentary on terms discussed with director of the film, Pamela Gordon. They believed it had been agreed that the film would “fully include people’s views, experiences and thoughts on both sides”.

‘Kathleen Stock is the main character’

Instead, they claim the film will show trans and non-binary people and their allies taking part in lawful but noisy protest, with few trans and non-binary voices speaking and “only one given any substantial opportunity to speak”.

“Stock is the main character” the participants claim, alleging that the documentary portrays her as a victim of “cancel culture” at the hands of trans rights activists.

In their statement, they claim that the film includes “no acknowledgement that she [Stock] has consequently maintained ongoing mass media coverage (including this documentary) for her views”.

The post goes on to flag alleged “errors” in the film, including coverage of Isla Bryson, who was convicted by a Scottish court of raping two women prior to her transition.

Further errors the group claim the film includes are an implied connection between Julie Bindel discussing harm that comes from allowing trans women in women spaces being linked to the vigil for Sarah Everard, and the “deliberate omission” of 16-year-old trans woman Brianna Ghey who was killed in February.

‘Opportunity for all to listen and find common ground’

A Channel 4 spokesperson told PinkNews: “As explained to all contributors, the programme hears from a range of voices on this issue.

“It aims to create a respectful and inclusive look at what gender means in 2023, and is an opportunity for all to listen and find common ground. All of the contributors have been shown the film.”

Channel 4 announced Gender Wars in April 2023, with Stock’s participation in the documentary leaving the LGBTQ+ community and allies gravely concerned.

Prior to quitting her role at the University of Sussex in October 2021, Stock called “many trans women still males with male genitalia“, and argued against their inclusion in single-sex spaces, which is protected by the Equality Act 2010.

She has also argued that self-ID “threatens a secure understanding of the concept ‘lesbian’”, rooting her rhetoric in a belief of immutable biological sex.

PinkNews has contacted the blog creators for comment.

Gender Wars will air on Tuesday 30 May at 10pm on Channel 4.

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