A health charity for a disease of the womb that can leave women in agony for years has been criticized for appointing a trans woman as its new chief executive.
Endometriosis South Coast (ESC) announced on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Labor activist Steph Richards would lead the organisation.
Richards has previously claimed that trans people can change their biological sex “a little bit” and boasted of running a “safe space” where men can secretly dress up as women, including as “schoolgirls.”
The ECS announcement of Ms Richards’ appointment also came with a statement alongside her image that read: “Isn’t it ridiculous that she reached the age of 40 before any medical professional even mentioned endometriosis?”
Trans women, who are biological males who identify as women, do not and cannot have a uterus and, therefore, can never suffer from endometriosis.
Health charity Endometriosis South Coast sparked outrage on social media by announcing trans woman Steph Richards as its new chief executive with a quote implying biological males could suffer from the condition.
Feminist author Milli Hill argued that the appointment was no different to a controversial case last year in which a man was appointed Scotland’s first one-term dignity officer.
Ms Richards’ appointment sparked negative reactions online.
One woman, who only posted the account name IDD64, said: “As a woman who suffered from endometriosis for decades, I simply cannot understand why you would think this naming is appropriate.”
The charity was later forced to clarify that the statement was not from Ms Richards and apologized for the “misunderstanding”.
‘This quote is from a person our charity supports. Not from Steph herself,” they wrote.
‘Steph is a great advocate for what people in the endodontic community go through.
“That’s why they were named, not because they have their own endo trip.”
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows in other places, including the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Long-term disease affects women of any age, including adolescents.
Common symptoms include:
- Pelvic pain
- Menstrual pain
- pain during or after sex
- pain when urinating or defecating
- Feeling sick
- difficulty getting pregnant
- Hormonal medications and contraceptives.
- Surgery to remove endometriosis patches.
Feminist author Milli Hill also took issue with Ms Richards’ appointment, arguing in X that it was no different to the case last year when a man was appointed Scotland’s first one-term dignity officer.
That position, controversially awarded to tobacco salesman turned macho personal trainer Jason Grant, was eliminated after the furor.
While Richards has not directly responded to the outrage over her appointment, she did respond to Hill’s post, stating: “More than two decades ago I was researching issues related to pregnancy and women’s health.”
“Interestingly, in those days ‘sex’ didn’t come into play.”
Richards has previously argued to Hill that people can change their biological sex, male or female, “a little bit.”
Richards, now 70, has already detailed her journey to becoming a trans woman on her blog.
In that account, he details how together with his ex-wife Lin, he created a safe space where men could cross-dress secretly from their families.
“Some wanted to be schoolgirls and brides, of course, but for most it was about wearing a dress, having a coffee or, for the braver ones, going shopping,” she wrote.
ECS claims to support “people” going through endometriosis, a condition in which uterine tissue grows in parts of the female anatomy that it shouldn’t, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Symptoms include pain in the pelvis and abdomen, extremely painful periods, pain during sex, problems conceiving, and the huge impact on sufferers can also lead to depression.
The charity was eventually forced to issue an apology and clarify that the quote came from a person it supported and not Ms Richards herself.
Some endometriosis sufferers, such as one user who only called herself IDD64, said they struggled to understand how the charity could consider this appropriate.
Around one in 10 women in the UK are thought to have endometriosis.
Despite being so common, many women struggle to have their pain and symptoms taken seriously and may be forced to wait decades for a diagnosis.
The issue of removing the terms woman and those related to female anatomy from health information pages for conditions that only affect biological women has been raised before.
Health experts have criticized the trend, saying it dangerously complicates vital health messages.