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NSPCC issues official apology for treatment of Munroe Bergdorf

Emma Powys Maurice June 12, 2019
Munro Bergdord smiling in an abstract print dress

Munroe Bergdorf was dropped by Childline. (Getty)

The NSPCC has issued an official apology for its treatment of trans model Munroe Bergdorf, who was dropped as Childline’s first LGBT+ campaigner following social media criticism.

The children’s charity released a statement from NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless on Wednesday (June 12), which reads: “We did not intend to cause distress to her, or by implication the wider LGBTQ+ community, and we deeply regret the impact our decision and its implementation had on Munroe and the LGBTQ+ community.”

“The reason we stopped working with Munroe has nothing to do with the fact that she is transgender.”

— NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless

Wanless maintains that the NSPCC supports trans rights and considers itself to be an ally to the trans community, adding that the reason they stopped working with Munroe had “nothing to do with the fact that Munroe is transgender.”

In explanation, Wanless cited “concern around the lack of process that our organisation used when deciding to work with Munroe.”

He said: “This is not Munroe’s doing but is much more a failure of our systems and processes than anything Munroe has done while engaged with us, and something we have to learn from.”

He explained that the NSPCC’s Board of Trustees decided an ongoing relationship with Munroe was “inappropriate” because of her statements on the public record, which would breach their risk assessments and undermine the charity. He added: “These statements are specific to safeguarding and equality.”

Bergdorf responded on Twitter: “I appreciate the formal apology @NSPCC. This situation has been extremely stressful and unnecessary. I just want to move on from the whole ordeal.”

The lengthy apology comes after the charity was widely condemned by many in the media, and by nearly 150 of its own staff. In an open letter they spoke of their “embarrassment and shame” at their employer’s decision.

“We are deeply disappointed about the treatment of Munroe by the organisation. In particular, we are concerned at the NSPCC’s decision to replicate the experience that many trans children and adults experience in being subjected to abuse and ridicule and subsequently abandoned,” said the letter, which was seen by The Guardian.

‘Transphobia’ blamed for Munroe’s Childline axe

On June 5, Bergdorf tweeted to say she was proud to be announced as Childline’s first LGBT+ campaigner, before the charity ended its association with her 48 hours later.

Posting on Twitter, Bergdorf said the campaign against her was started by Janice Turner, a journalist from The Times who asked the charity if the partnership was “worth the cancelled direct debits.”

Turner wrongfully accused Bergdorf of being a porn model, which Bergdorf immediately denied.

Shortly after this the NSPCC severed ties with Bergdorf without giving her any reason why. Her supporters highlighted that the NSPCC has previously worked with the glamour models Melinda Messenger and Abbey Clancy, leaving many to consider that transphobia lay behind the NSPCC’s decision.

While their reasons for dropping her remained unclear, Bergdorf gave an interview for the BBC in which she blamed transphobia for the decision and declared “trans people are treated like second-class citizens.”

The BBC confirmed that the NSPCC’s board of trustees had received “transphobic letters” after appointing Bergdorf as their LGBT+ campaigner.

But in their recent statement, the charity stringently denies that transphobia had anything to do with it, and said that they are seeking to work with Pride in NSPCC Colleagues and Children (PINCC) to help them understand “how best to repair the damage we have created in our relationships with the LGBTQ+ community.”

It adds: “We clearly should have been more considerate and respectful in clarifying our relationship with Munroe, and in how we ended our association with her on our recent campaign.”

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