CBBC Sparks Debate For Programme Featuring Transgender Child

There’s a new programme on CBBC online called Just A Girl. It’s aimed at children aged between 6 and 12. From its title, it sounds like a harmless, simple story of a young child. The kind of programme any parent would be happy to let their daughter watch.
Unfortunately, Just A Girl has recently sparked debate on Mumsnet. Why? It’s lead character, Amy, aged 11, is a transgender child going through the process of transitioning into a girl.
According to reports from the Mail On Sunday, parents have taken to Mumsnet to discuss the show. Many parents are unhappy about the storyline, labelling the show ‘inappropriate’ for their children.
“CBBC aims to reflect true life to our audience, providing content that mirrors the lives of as many UK children as possible.”
I’m pleased to see that the Mumsnet thread is not one-sided. There are also comments praising the show for raising such an important subject. One parent even talks about a child they know who recently came out as transgender in primary school and says they think it is the perfect age to teach children tolerance.
Personally, I strongly agree with that view. I strongly believe that children who are taught about differences in a positive light from an early age grow into sensitive, understanding adults who learn to show empathy, not unnecessary sympathy or pity.
Among CBBC viewers, there may be young children who are considering coming out as transgender. This programme might be showing them that they don’t need to be scared to tell anyone about the feelings they are having. Personally, I think that would be a very positive thing. Who knows how different life might have been for Caitlyn Jenner if she had been able to watch a character like Amy on TV as a 12-year-old?
There may also be children watching the programme who have already started living as transgender. They would get the chance to see themselves represented on TV through Amy. I know how positive that would be for them, because I know how much I longed to see disabled characters like myself on CBBC programmes in the 1990s. I don’t remember seeing a single one, at least not until I was too old to really be interested.
Personally, I think the debate about differences being shown on children’s TV is now an unnecessary, outdated one. If anything, we need more programmes like Just A Girl, not less.