Doctor Who writer dumped over T word

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BBC Books  dumped Gareth Roberts, a gay writer for the Doctor Who franchise from an upcoming story anthology over comments he made about trans people. Those comments included the T word, a well known transgender slur.

Gareth Roberts also wrote for the Doctor Who television series.


Originally, the publisher planned to include his story in the upcoming Doctor Who: The Target Storybook.

However the publisher since confirmed they will not include the story, BBC News reported.

In 2017, Roberts tweeted a joke about trans women’s names, in which he referred to them using the T word transgender slur.

“I love how ________ choose names like Munroe, Paris and Chelsea. It’s never Julie or Bev is it?” he wrote.

The tweet recently re-emerged, drawing online criticism from trans people and allies.

Roberts claimed in a Medium post that BBC Books said that, because of the controversy, including his story would render the book “economically unviable”.

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Anti-trans comments

In his announcement, Roberts went on to explain his views on gender.

He wrote that he does not “believe in gender identity” and seemed to argue against the legitimacy of trans people.

“It is impossible for a person to change their biological sex,” he wrote.

“I don’t believe anybody is born in the wrong body.

“I think it’s wrong to—write a falsehood into law; compel people by law to speak words they do not believe; rewrite the law to remove women’s biological sex-based rights and protections; reinforce gender stereotypes; medicalise children who don’t conform to gender stereotypes.”


Roberts added that he believes his views on trans people are “neither extreme nor unusual”.

Trans terminology

The T word has a complex history for the trans community.

While many older trans people use the word themselves, it entered common use as a transgender slur in the late twentieth century. It is generally deemed unacceptable other than for self-identification.

Older transgender and gay male people used the word with some affection. However, research shows that outside those communities, the word objectified transgender people as a sexual fetish. Many transgender people find the word dehumanising because it reduces their identity to a sexual fixation.

The problem arises from the disconnect between the context of the word for older LGBTIQ people and in the broader community.

Last year The Sunday Telegraph was criticised for using the T word in a headline.

Most drag bingo events which previously used the word changed their names, with legal action taken in 2017 against some venues that continued to use the old name.

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