'Woman's Hour' Presenter Jenni Murray Under Fire After Arguing Transgender Women Aren't 'Real Women'

The BBC Radio 4 presenter has caused controversy after she wrote a piece about claims to womanhood from transgender women.

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Dame Jenni Murray has provoked controversy this week after arguing that transgender women who undergo sex change operations cannot be 'real women'.

Writing for the Sunday Times, the Woman's Hour host said 'it takes more than a sex change and make-up' to 'lay claim to womanhood', and has since received criticism from LGBTQ campaign group, Stonewall, that call her comments 'reductive' and 'hurtful'.

In the article, the 66-year-old debated the question whether a man who had experienced a life of privileges of being male could ever truly be a woman.

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The BBC Radio 4 presenter recounted the first time she felt 'anger when a man claimed to have become a woman' was when she met the first serving Church of England priest, Rev Peter Stone, who had a sex-change operation in 2000.

'Her primary concerns, she told me, were finding the most suitable dress in which to meet her parishioners in her new persona and deciding if she should wear make-up or not,' she wrote.

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'I remember asking... what she owed those women who had struggled for so long to have their calling to the priesthood acted upon.

'His calling, as a man, had never been questioned. I had nothing but a blank look and more concerns about clothing,' she added.

She also described a meeting with transgender presenter India Willoughby, who believed she was a 'real woman', despite ignoring the fact she enjoyed the 'privileged position in our society generally accorded to a man', after she publicly agreed with the Dorchester's hotels' controversial dress code and grooming demands for female staff.

I remember asking... what she owed those women who had struggled for so long to have their calling to the priesthood acted upon.

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'There wasn't a hint of understanding that she was simply playing into the stereotype - a man's idea of what a woman should be,' said Murray.

While Murray admits she is not 'transphobic or anti-trans', LGBTQ campaign group Stonewall criticized her remarks.

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In a statement, reported by the BBC, the group explained: '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 engrained in their identity as yours or mine.

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'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,' it added.

Since the publication of Murray's article, titled 'Be trans, be proud — but don't call yourself a 'real woman'', she has received a mixed response of support and criticism for her comments on social media.

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However, this isn't the first time the question of transgender identity and womanhood has hit the headlines.

Being trans is not about 'sex changes' and clothes - it's about an innate sense of self.

In 2015, academic and writer Germaine Greer said transgender women were 'not women', resulting in thousands of students signing a petition in an attempt to prevent her appearing on panel discussions.

While Murray described Greer's comments as 'unacceptably rude' about the transgender community, the presenter said she was equally 'appalled' at the misogyny shown by trans activists who demanded the 'no platforming' (a ban on speaking in public) of women 'who have questioned the claims of trans women to be real women'.

No matter if you agree or disagree with Murray's comments, the extent of a transgender woman's 'womanhood', without having experienced the burden of gender inequality as a woman, is certainly a question of debate.

Let us know what you think @ELLEUK.

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