February 27, 2024 - 7:00am

Scarlet Blake is a dangerous man. Months after livestreaming himself torturing and killing his neighbour’s cat, the 26-year-old deliberately lured Jorge Martin Carreno to his death in the River Cherwell. Both crimes were thought to be sexually motivated. But those who’ve followed reports of the trial through the BBC might not know that Blake shares something in common with over 90% of other murderers: he is male.

BBC correspondent Duncan Kennedy, who reported on the sentencing of Blake, referred to him simply as a “woman”, as did news anchor Ben Brown. Online reports from the corporation were slightly more open about Blake’s transgender identity, with one article noting “she came out to her parents as transgender at 12.”

Such language accords with the BBC’s news style, which advises: “We generally use the term and pronoun preferred by the person in question, unless there are editorial reasons not to do so.” Nonetheless, to the casual reader it is jarring that Blake — a brutal, sadistic male killer — was referred to as “she” and “her” throughout reports of his crimes as per his preference.

As the detective overseeing the case noted, crimes such as those committed by Blake are thankfully “incredibly rare”. But they are vanishingly rare among women. This is because males, whatever their identity, are significantly more likely to be violent.

This is far from the first time the BBC has rolled over and shown its belly to trans activists. From sympathetic coverage of criminals such as Tara Hudson to Isla Bryson, the BBC has form for championing trans-identified offenders.

A 2018 survey revealed that 417 staff members at the BBC identified as trans (one in 50), which is significantly more than the proportion among the wider population (estimated by ONS as one in 200). Given these figures, it is tempting to surmise that editors at the BBC are more scared of the sensibilities of their powerful LGBTQ+ staff network than they are of the public they serve.

In obscuring the sex of offenders, the BBC may well have been following its own editorial guidelines on transgender inclusion. But the effect of performing allyship to the LGBTQ+ community was to deny its whole audience the truth. For the UK’s national broadcaster, arguably the world’s most trusted news outlet, this shows a troubling disregard for accuracy.

Notably, the BBC is less coy about reporting on the trans identity of victims. Indeed, the corporation positively drools over stories of rising hate crime among “marginalised genders” and even has dedicated LGBTQ reporters. Yet these journalists seem more interested in writing puff pieces on trans-identified pop stars and drag queens than digging into crime data. This is a shame, because arguably there are patterns which deserve to be scrutinised.

To an impartial journalist, the trans identities of perpetrators ought to be every bit as important as those of victims. Today the Telegraph reported that Ministry of Justice figures show at least 181 of the 244 transgender inmates, more than 74%, are in jail for crimes including rape, forcing children into having sex, grievous bodily harm and robbery. Tellingly, this story has yet to be picked up by the BBC.

On these issues, we need an impartial, national broadcaster more than ever. But that hope is slipping away by the day.

Josephine Bartosch is a freelance writer and assistant editor at The Critic.