An open letter to the BBC on trans lives

Dear Fran Unsworth and Tim Davie,

We the undersigned are concerned that the BBC is in breach of its public purposes in recent reporting and coverage of issues affecting the LGBT, and in particular the trans community.

The BBC’s first public purpose stresses that “content should be provided to the highest editorial standards” and “should offer a range and depth of analysis and content”. In particular, some recent coverage regarding transgender issues have been shallow rather than in depth, and have taken the words of anti-LGBT campaign groups at face value, rather than exploring them in depth. It seems that in these recent cases, editorial standards over the coverage of issues ranging from Gender Recognition Act reform, and the role of Stonewall, fall below that set out in the charter.

One prominent example is presenting the LGB Alliance as a pro-LGB organisation, focussing purely on sexual orientation rather than gender issues, when the campaigning and action of such a group does not back this up but instead shows that they are actually an anti-trans organisation, rather than a pro-LGB one. The BBC editorial stance is particularly confused on this, where it often presents the LGB Alliance as one side of the argument when it relates to issues of gender identity, but then introduces it as a pro-LGB campaigning group. Inviting the LGB Alliance on as one side of an issue which they claim not to be involved on, but then introducing them according to their own description is showing a failing of the duty to be “duly accurate and impartial” and to outsiders causes concern that the BBC is happy to reinforce the duplicitous nature of the organisation.

Similarly, there have been many examples where BBC shows have permitted misinformation by anti-trans campaigners on self-identification within the context of Gender Recognition Act reform to pass unchallenged which may mislead an uninformed audience member. Many anti-trans campaigners conflate the issue of allowing trans women into women’s only prisons or shelters (permitted under the Equality Act of 2010), with the matter of updating birth certificates, which self-identification under GRA reform concerns itself with, and when the BBC allows misinformation to occur on its platform, it is failing on the core Reithian principles of informing and educating.

We are further concerned that on this issue the BBC is also in breach of the fourth public purpose, which seeks to “accurately and authentically represent and portray the lives of the people of the United Kingdom today”. Although there have been several documentaries which centre the experience of trans people, when it comes to more general coverage, there has been a lack of accuracy and authenticity in the representation of the lives of trans people. For example, much coverage of transgender issues has focussed on relative niche areas such as fairness in elite sports, philosophical debates of the definition of the word “woman”, or those who detransition. However, most surveys of the trans community show that the biggest issues affecting that community are access to healthcare, mental health support and secure housing. Similarly, within the active discussion around that of trans youth, a disproportionate amount of time is spent on talking about those who detransition as a result of misdiagnosis, without appropriately setting the context of how many young lives have been saved through appropriate early intervention. By focussing much of the debate around trans issues through the lens of the anti-trans campaigners arguments, rather than the authentic lives of trans people, the BBC is failing in its public purposes.

We are also concerned by the recent reports that show trans staff at the BBC consider that the working environment has become “hostile” and that there are some reports that the BBC feels that it has to be impartial when it comes to supporting LGBT colleagues in order to protect editorial impartiality. These reports are worrying and will lead to the BBC failing to represent the diversity of UK audiences through these members of staff leaving the corporation.

We make the following asks of the BBC to ensure it upholds its own public purposes and values, to restore impartiality and balance in news and current affairs programming, to authentically and accurately represent the lives of trans people as part of the wider discussion on trans rights, and to ensure the BBC remains a safe place for all who work there, to protect the BBC as a national broadcaster.

  • Increase staff training and knowledge of the issues to address failings of News & Current Affairs coverage which has permitted misinformation on trans issues such as Gender Recognition Act reform to spread unchecked, in order to restore the high editorial standards in this area that the BBC has fallen short of on this subject.
  • To include trans people in the coverage of their lives, and that the editorial framing accurately and authentically represents the lives of the trans community to ensure that when debate of transgender issues occurs, it does so in line with the 4th public purpose, rather than focussing on strawman arguments presented by anti-trans campaigners.
  • To recommit to a workplace that is safe for trans people in line with the BBC’s value of a respectful and diverse workplace, by providing a safe space for staff which experience bullying and harassment to report this, and to investigate any complaint with the intention of reducing hostile workplaces, and to appropriately discipline any staff that contribute to a hostile working environment.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Northwood, former BBC R&D technologist
Aaron King
Abbie Jones
Abby Jolene Feld, Camera Operator
Abi Wright
Abigail Dixon, Paramedic
Ada Bolton
Adam Turner
Adem
Adi Daly-Gourdialsing
Adrian, Welfare Officer at GULGBTQ+
Adrian Salmon
Adriana
Adrianne Monroe
Aeron Martin
Aiden Wright
Aislinn Williams
Al Smith
Alan Good
Alan Hall
Alan Mckenna
Alan Mirren
Alan O’Rourke
Alana Mullen
Alanis Ballans
Alastair James
Alba Alonso
Alec Scott Rook
Alessa Catterall
Alex Dutton
Alex Eliot
Alex Jones
Alex Jump
Alex Lambert
Alex Molyneux
Alex Owens
Alex Swanston
Alexandra Beighton
Alexandra Jones
Alexandrine Kántor
Alexis Ashley
Alexis Chilvers
Alexis Dexter
Alexis Price
Alice Alvilda Hearthrow
Alice Crowley
Alice Dean
Alice Kyriacou
Alice Lee
Alice Lefevre
Alice Rush
Alice Shelley Forbes, Northern Independence Party external comms team member
Alice Wallace
Alim Kheraj
Alina Apine
Alison Phipps
Alison Steel
Alison Williams
Alistair Armitage
Allison, Founder of Transparentsees (support group for parents of trans folk)
Allison Clough, Psychotherapeutic Counsellor
Alyx BB
Amara Drury
Amber Fox
Amber Short
Amelia-Quinn Masters
Amy Binns
Amy Bullivant
Amy Chambers
Amy Newton
Amy Petrelli
Amy Stubbs
Anastasia Styles
Andi Maratos, Chief Executive of Chrysalis, a mental wellbeing charity for trans+ adults and their families
Andie Davidson, Chair of Trustees, The Clare Project, Brighton
Andrea Nicholson
Andrea Simpson
Andrea Vine
Andrew Birmingham
Andrew Bonney
Andrew Godfrey-Collins
Andrew Gray
Andrew James Carter
Andrew Rushton
Andrew Stanley, Retired FE Principal
Andrew Taylor, Former BBC Senior Software Engineer
Andy Cairns
Andy Channelle
Andy Harris
Angela Peachey
Anna Cain
Anna Fryer
Anna Gray
Anna Knight
Anna Langley
Anna Milligan
Anna Webley
Anna-Jayne Metcalfe, Trans Violence News moderator & tdor.translivesmatter.info founder
Anne Coates
Anne G. Morring
Anne Orchard
Annette Wilkinson
Anthony Ashton
Anthony Bird
Antony Rochford
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April Preston
Aras
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Asaph Duff
Ash Alexander
Ash Herner
Ash McArthur
Asher Gibson
Ashley Harker
Ashley Wickenden
Ashly Young
Aster Read, GULGBTQ+
Asterion Grey
Astrid Walker, LGBT+ Officer, City of Chester Labour Party. Founder member Labour Trans Equality
Audrey Hershenson
Avril Coelho
Bailey Evans
Barbara Leahy
Barry Blackmore
Barry Briggs
Bay Whitaker, Director, Sheffield Central Counselling
Beatrice Copland
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Beckett Frith
Becky Minton
Bee Godwin
Ben Brown
Ben Russell
Ben Thompson
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Benedict Hoff
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Beth Barrett
Beth Grant
Beth Menzies
Beth Roberts
Bex James
Bill Hayes
Bill Swales
Bill Wringe
Blaine Coughlan
Bobbie Lea Morton, Langdon Academy
Bobbie Morton, Langdon Academy
Brandon LeBlanc, Microsoft Corporation
Brian Combe
Brian O’Faolain
Brianna Hawkins
Brie Grrrl
Bright Parry
Bronwen O’Donnell
Bruno de Florence, LGBT activist
Bruno Girin
Bryn Dawson
Bryony Grant
C Mawson, co-organiser, Sheffield Bi & Pan Social Group
C. E. Lord, OBE
Cal Desmond-Pearson, Open University Undergraduate
Callum Fraser
Calum Rosko
Camilla Jefferson
Caoilain Lewis
Cara Legender
Cara Patching
Carlos Molina
Carol Cooper
Caroline Beauchamp
Caroline Debenham
Caroline Ellis
Caroline Hewison
Caroline Hunt
Caroline Logan, Teacher and Writer
Caroline McDonagh-Delves, Deputy Editor — The Unwritten
Carolyne O’Reilly
Carter Locksley
Cassandra Burn, University of Leeds
Cassandra Churchwell
Cassandra Gardiner
Cassian Lodge
Cassie Saltmer
Cassius Naylor
Cate Kneale
Catherine Butler
Catherine Hooper
Catherine S P Bussell, University College London
Catriona Morrison
Caz Hatten
Cerian Rees
Charis Chapman
Charles Littlechild
Charley Hasted, Vice Chair LGBT+ Lib Dems, Trustee Lambeth Links (Personal Capacity)
Charley Mather
Charlie Erskine
Charlie Smith
Charlie Tidmas
Charlotte Emily
Charlotte Vinsen
Chelsea Maher
Cheryl Arvidson
Chesska Lynx
Chloe Anderson
Chloe Benfield
Chloe Fitzgerald
Chloe Lesperance
Chloe Lunn
Chloe Nichols
Chloe Parker
Chloë S Pumpkins
Chris Atkinson
Chris Cox
Chris Eason
Chris Jacobs
Chris Lodge
Chris Sawer, former Senior Software Engineer, BBC Design & Engineering
Chris Skater
Chris Tomson
Chris Wells-Holland
Christian Ainscough
Christie Elan-Cane
Christina May
Christina Toolan
Christine Harrison
Christine Jayne Finch
Christine Power
Christopher Charters
Christopher Chiu-Tabet
Christopher Dickins
Christopher Dixon
Christopher Laslett
Christopher Lloyd, Senior Lecturer, University of Hertfordshire
Cian Hanson
CJ McArthur
Cj Smith, LGBTQ+ Affirmative Psychotherapist
Clair Wellsbury-Nye
Claire Hawk
Claire Koi
Claire Norcross
Claire Prosho
Claire Simpson
Clara Vulliamy
Clare Heggie
Clare Shep
Clare Sherman
Claude Weir
Clio Toogood
Cllr Gregor Murray, Trans Councillor
Cloud Quinn
Coraline Harris
Corrie Martell
Cosmo Bayston
Courtney Cole
Craig Stevenson
Craig Turnbull
D Adams
D. Brown
Dahnya Rose Hollier-Day
Damian Fisher
Damien Evans
Dan Lovegrove
Dan Rice
Dani Glaw
Dani Llewellyn
Daniel Morrison, Psychotherapist
Daniel Willis
Daniel Winstanley, Counsellor
Daniel Wood
Danielle King
Danni Capelin
Dario Persechino
Darren Doyle
Darren M
Darren Sherlock
Daryl Hodge
Dav Kelly
Dave Turner
Dave Williams
David Adger
David Allsopp
David Devereux, Audio Producer — Tin Can Audio
David Harrison
David Hodder
David Honeyford
David Lowther
David Paisley
David Rawlings
David Riffkin
David Thomas, former Director Strathclyde Gay & Lesbian Switchboard Ltd
Dawn Davies
Dax Romaine-Shelley
Day Riley
Dean Coombs
Dean Thom
Debbie Catherine Jones
Debra Mclennan
Delia Ives
Denis Robinson
Diana Aitchison, Coordinator Cambridge transgender self help group
Diane Jones, contributor to Lily: A Transgender Story
Dominic Davies, Chief Exec Pink Therapy
Dominic Lanigan
Don Canning
Dorian Bard
Dr Amy Walker
Dr Christopher Clark
Dr Chryssy Hunter
Dr Debbie Wood, Outreach Cumbria LGBT
Dr Heather Wood, Clinical Psychologist
Dr Kate MacDonald
Dr Miriam Silver
Dr Sahra Taylor
Dr Samuel Harry Benjamin Roberts, Chartered Mechanical Engineer
Dr. Sara L. Uckelman, Durham University
Drew Castledine
Duncan Lees
Dylan Jackson
Dylan Lewis-Creser, Chair of Under 18 Green Party
E Sarv
E. Hindle
Ebony Ettienne
Ed Firth
Ed Hill
Eilidh Hudson
Eleanor Davies
Eleanor Faye
Eleanor McDowall, Falling Tree Productions
Elena Lea
Eleni Mikroyannidi
Eleonora Foddai
Elijah Holt
Elizabeth Rosslyn-Parker, student nurse
Elizabeth Wise
Ella Lea
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Elliot P
Ellis Crawford
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Em Miles
Em Young, Broadcast Camera Operator
Emily Hamilton FRSA
Emily McGowan
Emma Banin
Emma Cuthbertson
Emma Lawrence
Emma Short
Emma Turner
Emma Wooller
Emma Young
Enda Guinan
Erica Eassom, Clinical Psychologist
Erin A., Freedom media, camera operator
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Erin Ekins
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Erin Pearce, GULGBTQ+
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Faye Windsor
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Finn McLellan
Florian Fleitmann
Fox Scarlet Jones
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Francesca Garcia
Francesca Storm
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Gavin Mochrie-Smith
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Gemma McCall, Culture Shift
Gemma Rayner James
Geoff de Burca
Geordi Mason-Jones
George Drumer
George Taxidis, Psychotherapist and lecturer
Georgia Gough
Georgia John-Charles
Georgina Shippey, BBC R&D Software Engineer
Georgy Malenkov
Gigo
Gill Garland
Giulietta Williamson
Glen Dixon
Glen Knight
Global Butterflies
Goran Newsum
Graeme Browning
Graham Murphy
Grant Roud
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Greg Cotton
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Gwenna Hanilton
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Halina Parkinson
Hane Maung
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Hannah O Rourke
Hannah Treacher
Harry Baldrian
Harry Leach
Haydn Foster
Helen Bentley
Helen Hewitt
Helen Searle, LBGT+ Officer, Edinburgh Southern Constituency Labour Party (personal capacity)
Helen Stubbs
Helen Zaltzman
Helsa A
Henry Stevenson
Hester Lyons
Hilary Cooke, CEO Medway Gender & Sexual Diversity Centre, Chair Medway Pride CIC
Hilary Keane
Hollie Wright
Holly Morsley
Iain Birrell
Ian Forrester, BBC Firestarter
Ian Renton
Ibtisam Ahmed, Queer organiser and academic from Bangladesh
Ieuan James
India Willoughby, Broadcaster, Journalist
Isabel Harrison
Isabella Gray
Isabella Putterill
Isabelle Andrews
Isabelle Riley
Isla Kennedy
Isobel Gray
J Bee, Registered Mental Health Nurse
J Peach
J. Clay
Jack Allnutt, Principal Software Engineer, BBC R&D
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Jack Harvey
Jack Marshall
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James Doherty
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James Groves
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James Nye
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James Wyatt
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Jamie Baxter
Jamie Daly
Jamie Dorman
Jamie Evans
Jamie Hall
Jamie Jewkes
Jamie Laundon
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Jamie Woods, former BBC R&D New Talent Trainee
Jan Heiland
Jane Berrie
Jane Fae, for Trans Media Watch
Jane Frostick
Jane Hearst
Jane Peters
Janet Wall
Jasmijn Bastings
Jasmine Joséphine Sakura-Rose, Membership Secretary — LGBT+ Lib Dems
Jason Howard, Microsoft Corporation
Jason O’Toole
Jason Potts
Jasper Veart
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Jay “jeh” Aherkar
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Jay Murray
Jaydie Holmes
Jean Drumer
Jed Bland
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Jennie Kermode, Author of ‘Transgender Employees in the Workplace’
Jennifer A Clifford, BSc, MSc, MBPsS.
Jennifer Dean
Jennifer Gentleman, Microsoft Corporation
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Jennifer Hobson
Jennifer Latham
Jennifer Lovelady
Jennifer Wallis
Jennifer White
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Jenny-Anne Bishop OBE, Chairperson TransForum / Unique Transgender Network
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Joe Lynch
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Joel Howard-White
John Adams
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Jordan Tyson
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Joseph Ronan
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Julia S
Julian Phatarfod
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Kate Harris
Kate Shayler
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KD Smith
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Kenneth
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Kim Wright
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Kjersti Dahle
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L Stephenson, University of Cambridge
L Viner
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Lana Pearce
Laura Dempster
Laura Hulme
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Laura Martin
Laura Stephen
Laura van Luyn
Lauren Harper, Clinical Psychologist
Lauren Mae Simpson
Laurynas Navasaitis
Layla Leatham
Leah Davidson
Leah Millington
Leathermen Cymru
Lee Trayler
Leeanne
Lef Apostolakis
Leigh Meyer
Leoni Cachia, Trainee cognitive behavioural psychotherapist
Lesley Dougan
Leslie Cunningham
Lewis Gunn
Lewis Holroyd
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Liz Tuddenham
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Lola Grey
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Louis Shortt
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Louise Dean
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Luca Towers
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Lydian Reeves
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Lynne Mackie
M Johnston-Cowley
MA Sharif
Madelaine Taylor
Madeleine Daly
Madeleine Gregory
Madison Hughes
Maja Gorzkowicz
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Manish Lad
Marc Pearce
Margot Wilson
Maria Drumer
Maria Margetts
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Mariana K
Marie Pendle
Marion Cromb
Marisa Johnson
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Mark Brown
Mark Horwood-James
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Martin Walker
Martina Bador
Mat Bunting-Day
Matilda Wilkinson
Matt Blackwood
Matt Freestone
Matt Mould
Matthew Edgar-Gibson
Matthew Fordyce
Matthew Hibbert
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Matthew Ruffels
Max V
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Mayank Parmar, WindowsLatest
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Mia Cassey
Michael Armstrong
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Nat Nimmo
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Natalie Morrison
Natasha Nelson
Natasha Rudkin
Nate Hammond
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Nathan Connell
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Neil Bartlett
Neil Brannigan
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Neil McDonald
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Nic Beck
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Nicholas Drake
Nick Fette
Nick Finn
Nick Tee
Nicola Hodson
Nicola Mason
Nicola Rimington
Nicola Roberts
Nigel Armstrong
Nikki Baxter, Mental Health Nurse
Nikki Howes
Nix Black
Ocean Riley
Oliver JC Hunt
Oliver McCarthy
Olivia Hall
Olivia Mowll
Oscar Appleyard-Keeling
Oscar O’Callaghan
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Patrick Swayne
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Paul Bruton
Paul Burgess
Paul Caporn
Paul Dazeley
Paul Hodgson
Paul Ilett
Paul Taylor
Paul Warren
Paul Woods
Paul Wooldridge
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Peter Graham
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Rachel
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Rae
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S Chase
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S Walker
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Saleena Ali, Langdon Academy
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Sherri Joyce
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Shivani Dave, Non-binary former BBC Journalist
Sigríður Sigurðardóttir
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Simon Lepori, former Lib Dem candidate for Greater Manchester Mayor 2021
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Sinead Wilson
Siobhan J Garvey
Sister Mona Key / Scott Robinson, Sister of Perpetual Indulgence
Skye Jones
Skye Micu
Sofie Lewis
Sophia Christina Botha
Sophia Kearney
Sophie Beaumont
Sophie Bennett
Sophie Bourne
Sophie Bradshaw
Sophie Cook
Sophie Grace Chappell
Sophie Lynx
Sophie Rebecca
Sou Alexander
Stacy Nicolson
Stefan Liberadzki
Stella MacDonald
Steph Egan
Steph Nicholls
Stephanie Dale, former Labour town councillor for Sleaford
Stephanie J. Davies
Stephanie McAlea, Creative Manager at Stygian Fox Publishing
Stephanie Ressort
Stephanie White
Stephanie Zihms
Stephen Donnan-Dalzell, Writer & activist
Steve Goddard
Steve Urquhart
Steve Wright
Steven Fleming
Steven Meacher
Steven Perkins
Stuart Frazer
Stuart Robertson
Stuart Sharpe
Su Stopporton
Sue Akehurst
Sunil Hutchin-Bellur
Susannah Mallaghan
Suusi Malcolm-Brown
Suzie McCarthy
Sydney Cardew
Sylvia van Wijk
Tabitha Adams
Talia Augustidis
Tamara Marie Keating
Tanya Newton
Teresa Hewitt
Terry Clarke
Thea Shortman
Theo Jupp
Theresa Davis
Thomas Barfield
Thomas Edwards
Thomas Keyton
Thomas Luke Shaw
Thomas Parker
Tilly
Tim Hoogenboom
Tim Lancaster
Tina
Tina Sikka
TMSA-UK (Trans Masculine Support & Advice UK)
Toby Kill
Toby Sullivan
Tom C
Tom Earl
Tom Howe, Former BBC Employee
Tom Katsumi
Tom Langham
Tom Macgregor
Tom Meadowcroft, Socialist Alternative South West
Tom Vousden
Tommy Hill
Torin Bramley
Trish Watt, Musician
Tristan Gray
Tyler Atkins
Tyler Dennis
Tyler Rai Ingram
Tyrone Curtis
Ultan Murray
Val Walker
Vanessa Atkins
Verin Smyth Callard
Vic Entwistle
Vicki Malesza
Vicky-Jane Gooding
Victoria Manning
Viktor Leppänen
Violet Tyler
Violette Lundsten, Trans Media Watch Trustee
Wai Ming Lee
Wendy Priscott
Wenjin Ren
Will Glynn
William Hayden-Shears
William Hobson, BBC Staff Member
William Slade
William Tench
Xavier de Sousa
Xin Lowell
Yena Ahmed
Yvonne O’Keefe
Zachary Mcarthur
Zack Gray
Zayna
Zero Piraeus, National Secretary, Northern Independence Party
Zoë Abendstern
Zoë Ellery, Associate Lecturer
Zoe Goodacre MNCS (Accred), Psychotherapeutic Counsellor
Zoë Martin
Zoey Cruz

A technologist wanting to share knowledge and iterate towards a better world.