TV writer Graham Linehan has defended his views on transgenderism after a fierce backlash against his appearance on RTÉ's Prime Time programme this week.
The writer, best known for his work on the hit comedy show Father Ted and The IT Crowd, has been an outspoken critic of gender self-identification and early intervention for gender non-conforming children.
The latest wave of protest against Linehan arose in response to his appearance in RTÉ's Prime Time programme on trans issues in Ireland that aired on Tuesday night.
Despite a petition and protest outside its studios by trans activists objecting to his appearance, RTÉ refused to axe Linehan's four-minute interview from the show. The network said it hoped viewers would find the programme 'a fair and responsible examination of an issue of considerable public importance'.
Speaking to the Irish Times before the programme aired, Linehan said it was 'obviously wonderful' that trans people were finding greater acceptance and that it was important for people with gender dysphoria 'to be helped and supported'.
But he said some trans activists 'dont realise the damage done' and that he had to 'disagree fundamentally with certain aspects of current activism', which he said 'will stop those genuinely needing help from getting it'.
'I don't think I'm saying anything controversial,' he said.
He claimed to have support from lesbians and even transgender people, and said that other people shared his views but were too 'terrified' to speak out.
'There have been protests at pride parades in London and New Zealand, from lesbians who say this is affecting lesbians on the ground,' he said.
'A lot of transgender people agree with me. I'm not transphobic. Because of this debate, I now have a number of friends who are trans, and they don't agree with this dogma.'
He strongly criticised 'early affirmation' of transgenderism in young people, saying that it was 'dangerous' to offer surgery or drugs to children still going through puberty.
'There are lots of gender non-conforming children who may not be trans and may grow up to be gay adults, but who are being told by an extreme, misogynist ideology, that they were born in the wrong body, and anyone who disagrees with that diagnosis is a bigot,' he said.
'The normal experience of puberty is the first time we all experience gender dysphoria. It's natural. But to tell confused kids who might every second be feeling uncomfortable in their own skin that they are trapped in the wrong body?
'It's an obscenity. It's like telling anorexic kids they need liposuction.'