The BBC has been accused of acting recklessly after screening a programme aimed at young children which depicts a schoolboy who is proscribed hormones to assist gender reassignment. Some of the programme's viewers are believed to be as young as six years of age. The show, Just A Girl, is available on the CBBC website.
Some parents are concerned that its transgender storyline might be inappropriate for their children. Campaigners have said it could "sow the seeds of confusion" in children's minds. The programme narrates an 11-year-old's attempts to be prescribed hormones that limit puberty, facilitating future gender reassignment surgery.
On the Mumsnet website, one mother posted to say her daughter had become anxious after watching the progamme. The girl likes wearing boys' clothes and playing football. Her mother said that she had "asked me, anxiously, if that means she was a boy".
In an interview with the Daily Mail, family campaigner Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust said: "It is irresponsible of the BBC to introduce impressionable children as young as six to the idea that they can choose to be something other than their biological sex."
However, there were also positive responses on Mumsnet. One parent wrote: "I don't believe there is 'too young' for stuff like this. The earlier you teach your children that everyone is different and that nobody is 'normal' the better."
Polly Carmichael, a clinical psychologist who specialises in transgender children, said: "Raising awareness of these issues is the best way to challenge stigma and discrimination associated with identity issues. Programmes like Just A Girl can contribute to a healthy and informed public discussion."
In a statement the BBC said: "Just A Girl is about a fictional transgender character trying to make sense of the world, deal with bullying and work out how to keep her friends, which are universal themes that many children relate to, and which has had a positive response from our audience. CBBC aims to reflect true life, providing content that mirrors the lives of as many UK children as possible."
Meanwhile, American talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres has reportedly teamed up with Angelina Jolie to produce a film about transgender children.