Bigots accuse the BBC of ‘grooming’ for affirming Casualty storyline about top surgery

Actor Arin Smethurst as Casualty character Sah. Sah wears a green paramedic's outfit and stands against a UK ambulance.

A brief scene featured on BBC’s Casualty, in which non-binary character Sah Brockner revealed they will soon get top surgery, has sent bigots into a frenzy.

The scenes, which aired on Saturday (3 June) and took up little more than a minute of the episode’s 50-minute run-time, saw Sah tell their colleagues that they had received a date to get the gender-affirming surgery.

“I booked time off because I finally got the date for my top surgery,” Sah told fellow paramedics Jan Jenning and Teddy Gowan in a harmless, heartwarming moment.

“Before you say anything, I know a double mastectomy is not to be taken lightly … for now at least, I’m just happy that I’ll look like the person I feel like on the inside.”

Actor Arin Smethurst, who is non-binary and transmasculine, joined the BBC hospital drama back in 2021, and has been bringing much-needed non-binary representation to prime time TV ever since. 

Last year, Smethurst revealed that they had been contacted by endless viewers who shared how they felt “seen, represented, emboldened and affirmed” by Sah’s presence on the show.

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Despite the positive impact Sah has had as a character, social media was ablaze when the innocuous scene aired over the weekend, with some going as far as suggesting the BBC should be scrapped because of it.

After the official Casualty Twitter page shared a short clip of the moment, the replies were flooded with people accusing the show of being akin to “grooming”, while others moaned about the broadcaster “pandering to the woke minority”, whatever that means.

Gender-critical groups have also lashed out at the BBC for airing the storyline.

Safe Schools Alliance UK, a group which has previously claimed that schools are encouraging gay and lesbian pupils to change genders, called the short scene a “new low” for the broadcaster, while Fair Play For Women questioned whether the BBC had taken its “safeguarding responsibilities seriously”. 

Others complained about the scene airing at 8.20pm, pre-watershed – despite it not featuring sexual content, distressing imagery, violence or bad language, which is what the watershed is for.

While the comment section below the clip largely became a gutter full of anti-trans bile, others began sharing why the “sweet” scene was important.

“Straightforward, well scripted and supportive, well done,” one person wrote.

“Ignore the haters. They won’t last. But we will,” another person said.

Trans Hollyoaks actress Annie Wallace added: “The cro-magnon responses to this is why we fight abuse, and will not stop.

“If they think that this abuse will stop us, or make us run away and hide, they are gravely mistaken.”

Arin Smethurst’s Sah is just one of many non-binary characters who are taking over our screens, with shows including Grey’s Anatomy, Billions, Hollyoaks, and Our Flag Means Death prioritising brilliant non-binary representation.

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