Bigots rage over CBeebies sharing biological facts about fish changing gender

CBeebies' Dodge T Dog explained how some fish can go from being a boy fish to a girl fish in a segment that has triggered transphobia fury.

Anti-trans campaigners continue to enjoy a busy Pride month calling for boycotts against the world’s biggest brands – recently even hitting out at CBeebies for “indoctrinating” children with a factual segment on how some fish can change gender.

A minute-long clip about clownfish and kobudai, meant for children aged six and younger, was shown between programmes on the UK channel on Sunday (4 June).

The segment was presented by puppet Dodge T Dog, who asks: “’Would you like to learn something very cool about fish? You would? 

“Listen to this: some fish can change from being a boy fish to a girl fish or from being a girl fish to a boy fish.” 

T Dog then goes on to show a clownfish and explain how their leader is always female, and how a male fish can change into a female. 

The puppet then shows a kobudai and explains how when a female reaches a certain age, over a period of a few months, they can turn into a male fish. 

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“’Not all fish can change gender but quite a few can. The world really is a wonderful place,” T Dog concluded.

There is no mention of trans people or the wider LGBTQ+ community in the clip, but this hasn’t stopped anti-trans campaigners raging at the BBC, CBeebies and fish.

Elsewhere, a BBC Earth article about David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II names two types of fish as the “sex-switching masters of the animal kingdom”. 

It says: “About two per cent of fish species display some kind of hermaphroditism: that’s 500 different species worldwide.” 

A hermaphrodite is a sexually reproducing organism that has both testicular and ovarian tissue.

Highlighted in the article is how kobudai’s change routinely from female to male, and the clownfish’s change from male to female. 

A BBC spokesperson told PinkNews the segment aired at the start of June to celebrate Pride month. 

“CBeebies’ ‘Everyone’s Welcome’ ethos supports inclusivity and we air segments on a range of related topics throughout the year,” they said.

But biological facts have done little to calm the storm of transphobia, with anti-trans lobby group, the Safe Schools Alliance, tweeting that the channel is “indoctrinating toddlers into the ideological concept of changing from a boy to a girl”.

Many other comments called for the channel to “stay away from children” with some complaining that “this has gone too far”, and stating that it’s part of “woke” culture. 

In response to these tantrums, others pointed out that the brief segment was literally reporting on scientific facts.

The backlash coincides with anti-trans campaigners also attacking fish content shared by the British Library, which posted a now-deleted Twitter thread about the Māori wrasse fish, which can also change gender. 

An archive of the thread shows that the library wrote: “Māori wrasse take five to seven years to become sexually mature, an around their ninth birthday, the females can change sex and become ‘supermales’ [with] an even-more-prominent hump and even brighter colour blue and green, which makes them super attractive to females. Ooh la la.”

According to the New Scientist changing sex is a normal part of life for many fish.

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