Trans activists have accused the BBC of 'transphobia' after the broadcaster published an article about lesbians who felt pressured into having sex with trans women.
More than 8,000 people signed an open letter to the broadcaster after journalist Caroline Lowbridge wrote an article describing the pressures three lesbian women had allegedly faced from trans women to have sex.
In the piece, Ms Lowbridge attempted to discover how 'widespread' the issue was across the country and said several people had contacted her about the pressures to 'accept the idea that a penis can be a female sex organ'.
The author acknowledged it was 'difficult to determine the true scale of the problem' and referred to a survey carried out by the campaigning group Get the L Out - which reported 56 per cent of respondents had felt pressured or been coerced into accepting a trans woman as a sexual partner.
But more than 8,000 people have now signed an open letter condemning the piece and accused the BBC of 'transphobia'.
The BBC is facing a backlash after it published an article which described the pressures three lesbian women had allegedly faced from their trans partners into having sex
In her article Ms Lowbridge spoke to three women, who used aliases, and said they had experienced a backlash after stating they would not want to have sex with a trans woman.
Jennie, a lesbian who is only attracted to women who are biologically female, said she had been described as transphobic, a genital fetishist, a pervert and a 'terf' - a trans exclusionary radical feminist.
She told the BBC: 'I've had someone saying they would rather kill me than Hitler.
'They said they would strangle me with a belt if they were in a room with me and Hitler. That was so bizarrely violent, just because I won't have sex with trans women.'
Another woman, who used the name Chloe, told the BBC she felt so pressured she ended up having sex with a trans woman at university after repeatedly explaining she was not interested.
She added: 'I felt very bad for hating every moment, because the idea is we are attracted to gender rather than sex, and I did not feel that, and I felt bad for feeling like that.'
Ms Lowbridge said those affected had told her 'the pressures came from a minority of trans women'.
The open letter read: 'Dear BBC Upper Management and Editorial Staff,
'The day this open letter is being written, you published an article on the BBC News website by Caroline Lowbridge titled ''We're being pressured into sex by some trans women''.
More than 8,000 people have signed an open letter condemning the article
'The article headline may use the word ''some'', but the clear implication of the article and its headline is that transgender women as a minority group pose a threat to cisgender lesbians, and should therefor have their rights restricted in the UK.
'The implications proposed by this article suggest that transgender women generally pose a risk to cisgender lesbians in great enough numbers that it is newsworthy, and something the general public should consider as a common occurrence rather than a matter of incredibly rare, isolated experiences.'
The letter went on to say that the article 'dangerously frames this as a widespread issue' while acknowledging that there is' no actual evidence to that effect outside of isolated claims.'
It added: 'We do not dispute the claim that there are likely isolated cases of cisgender lesbians who have been pressured in the past into sex by transgender women who viewed their genital preference as transphobic, however to paint this as a widespread occurrence, or the norm, is incredibly dangerous.'
A BBC spokesperson said: 'The article looks at a complex subject from different perspectives and acknowledges it is difficult to assess the extent of the issue.
'It includes testimony from a range of different sources and provides appropriate context. It went through our rigorous editorial processes.
'It is important that journalism looks at issues - even where there are strongly held positions.
'The BBC is here to ensure debate and to make sure a wide a range of voices are heard.'