A health charity for a womb condition that can leave women in agony for years has come under fire for appointing a trans woman as their new chief executive.
Endometriosis South Coast (ESC) announced on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Labour activist Steph Richards would be leading the organisation.
Ms Richards has previously claimed trans people can change their biological sex ‘a little bit’ and boasted about running a ‘safe space’ where men could dress up as women in secret, including as ‘schoolgirls’.
ECS’s announcement of Ms Richards’ appointment also came with a statement next to her image that said: ‘Isn’t it ridiculous I’ve got to my 40s before any medical professionals even mentioned endometriosis.’
Trans women, who are biological males that identify as women, do not and cannot have a uterus and, therefore, can never suffer from endometriosis.
Health charity Endometriosis South Coast provoked outrage on social media by announcing trans woman Steph Richards was their new chief executive with a quote implying biological men could suffer from the condition
Feminist author Milli Hill argued that the appointment was no different to a controversial case last year where a man was appointed Scotland’s first ever period dignity officer
The appointment of Ms Richards, who uses the pronouns she and her and has undergone £30,000 in treatment and surgery to transition, was met with backlash.
Caroline Ffiske, Director of Conservatives for Women, said she was in ‘disbelief’, adding: ‘It’s an insulting appointment. It’s an insult to women.
‘It’s an absolutely shocking appointment. There’s just disbelief and despair among the entire community.’
Kellie-Jay Keen, founder of Let Women Speak movement, was critical of the language used by charity and said it ‘ignored women’ and branded the appointment ‘barmy’.
‘Everyone has lost their collective minds,’ she added. ‘The losers are women who suffered from endometriosis a who have to rely on a charity that won’t call them “women” but “people” but who will call a man a women.
‘This is an absolute disaster and affront to all women who suffer from endometriosis, which is about 10 per cent of women. It’s really insulting.
‘I think it’s doubly insulting they will use female language for him but not for suffer the condition.’
The appointment also sparked outrage online, with critics lashing out on X, formerly known as Twitter.
One person wrote: ‘You have failed every single woman who is currently using your services.’
One person, who claimed to have suffered from the condition for years, added: ‘As a woman who suffered with endometriosis for decades, I simply cannot fathom why you’d think this appointment is appropriate.’
On it’s website, Endometriosis South Coast said it is an ‘inclusive charity set up to support people who haven’t started their diagnosis journey, are going through the diagnosis stages, or have been diagnosed with endometriosis and/or adenomyosis’.
It added that it aims to create a ‘safe space for all people with the condition regardless of race, gender, or religion.
‘This disease does not discriminate and neither do the people who run this charity,’ the organisation added on its website.
The charity was later forced to clarify that the posted statement was not from Ms Richards and apologised for the ‘misunderstanding’.
‘This quote is from a person that our charity supports. Not from Steph herself,’ they wrote.
‘Steph is a huge advocate for what people on the endo community go through.
‘This is why they were appointed, not because they have their own endo journey.’
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, including the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
The long-term condition affects women of any age, including teenagers.
Common symptoms include:
- Pelvic pain
- Period pain
- pain during or after sex
- pain peeing or pooing
- feeling sick
- difficulty getting pregnant
- Hormone medicines and contraceptives
- Surgery to cut away the patches of endometriosis
Feminist author Milli Hill also took issue with Ms Richards’ appointment, arguing on X that it was no different to the case last year where a man was appointed Scotland’s first ever period dignity officer.
That position, controversially given to tobacco salesman turned macho personal trainer Jason Grant, was axed following the furore.
While Ms Richards hasn’t responded to the outrage over her appointment directly, she responded to Ms Hill’s post, stating: ‘I was researching issues around pregnancy and women’s health well over two decades ago.
‘Strangely in those days “sex” didn’t come into it.’
Ms Richards has previously argued to Ms Hill that people can change their biological sex, male or female, ‘a bit’.
Now in her 70s, Ms Richards has previously detailed her journey to becoming a trans woman on her blog.
In that account, she details, how alongside her ex-wife Lin, she created a safe space where men could cross-dress in secret from their families.
‘Some wanted to be schoolgirls and brides, of course, but for most, it was a case of wearing a dress, having a coffee, or for the very brave, going out for a shopping experience,’ she wrote.
ECS claims to support ‘people’ going through endometriosis, a condition where womb tissue grows in parts of the female anatomy it shouldn’t, such as ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Symptoms include pain in the pelvis and abdomen, extremely painful periods, pain during sex, trouble conceiving, with the huge impact on sufferers also potentially leading to depression.
The charity was eventually forced to issue an apology and clarification that the quote came from a person the charity supported rather than Ms Richards herself
Some endometriosis, suffers, like a user who only went by IDD64, said they struggled to understand how the charity could consider this appropriate
About one in 10 women in the UK are believed to have endometriosis.
Despite being so common, many women struggle to have their pain and symptoms taken seriously and can be forced to wait decades for a diagnosis.
The issue of the terms women and those relating to female anatomy being removed from health information pages for conditions that only affect biological women has been raised before.
Health experts have criticised the trend saying it dangerously overcomplicates vital health messaging.