In Depth

Jenni Murray sparks outrage with trans women column

BBC Woman's Hour presenter claims men who have had a sex change are not 'real women'

Dame Jenni Murray, the host of BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, has come under fire for saying that men who have undergone a sex change are not "real women".

In an article for the Sunday Times Magazine, the 66-year-old broadcaster questioned whether someone who has "lived as a man, with all the privilege that entails" could lay claim to womanhood.

She began by saying she was "not transphobic or anti-trans" and acknowledged that she is "diving headfirst into deep and dangerous waters".

But Murray said she was concerned about the impact the question "of what constitutes 'a real woman'" will have on sexual politics.

Her column, entitled: "Be trans, be proud - but don't call yourself a 'real woman'" has sparked anger among LGBT campaigners, who urged her to speak to more trans women about their experiences.

Rachel Cohen, campaigns director at Stonewall, said: "Trans women have every right to have their identity and experiences respected too. They are women – just like you and me - and their sense of their gender is as ingrained in their identity as yours or mine.

"Being trans is not about 'sex changes' and clothes – it's about an innate sense of self. To imply anything other than this is reductive and hurtful to many trans people who are only trying to live life as their authentic selves."

Boxing manager Kellie Maloney, who announced in 2014 that she was beginning gender reassignment, said she was "shocked" at Murray's comments.

"I may not have gone through everything a woman has, like childbirth, but I've gone through other anxiety. I would have given anything to be born a woman," she said.

Maloney said she was "protecting a hidden identity" when she lived as a man: "I would cry myself to sleep, I would drink myself to oblivion because I didn't know how to deal with what was going on inside myself, so to read that someone dismisses me with the stroke of a pen, it doesn't help when an established broadcaster does this."

Natalie Washington, writing for the nGendr blog, said "misogyny can come from anywhere" and urged Murray to call a misogynist trans woman a "misogynist, not a man".

"What we can't allow is a situation where people are stripped of their identity and dismissed as 'fake' because they hold bad opinions," she said, "particularly when that action is taken against the entire group."

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