Gynaecological cancer charity condemns transphobes taking ‘ownership’ of cancer – and receives barrage of, yes, transphobic abuse
British gynaecological cancer charity The Eve Appeal has been forced to delete a trans-inclusive post about smear tests after a wave of transphobic abuse.
The Eve Appeal, which funds research and raises awareness of womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal cancer, was responding to an anti-trans online campaign that’s been rumbling this month.
The campaign, “Only Females Get Cervical Cancer”, began on Twitter – and led to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, another charity, releasing a statement earlier this week emphasising that “everyone with a cervix” should have access to cervical cancer screenings.
Also in response to the anti-trans campaign – which claims that it harms women to use inclusive language like “people with cervixes” in awareness-raising campaigns for smear tests – The Eve Appeal published a series of Instagram posts.
“A few days ago there was a hashtag trending on Twitter that I can only now bring myself to type out in full,” wrote Karen Hobbs, herself a survivor of cervical cancer, in a post on The Eve Appeal’s Instagram page.
Hobbs continued: “How we have reached a point where transphobic people are arguing over and trying to take ownership of who ‘gets’ cervical cancer?
“It’s vile. It’s also really triggering for people who’ve actually had the disease. I’m including myself in ‘people’. It’s upsetting, and I’ve had a cry over it, because how people can get possessive over cancer is beyond me.”
She added: “Yes, someone called Karen is triggered. I appreciate that’s hilarious.”
Excellent post by cervical cancer charity, @eveappeal, on Instagram – calling out transphobes ??????
(Screenshots in thread) pic.twitter.com/AlrQwvKrqa
— Helen??♀️ (@mimmymum) July 16, 2020
Less than 24 hours after sharing Hobbs’ post, The Eve Appeal was forced to delete it – after it was screenshot and taken out of context by those who took issue with the charity’s trans-inclusive stance.
“It was really upsetting to see our Instagram post, which was written from the personal perspective of someone who’s had cervical cancer, get taken out of context,” a spokesperson for The Eve Appeal told PinkNews.
“The problem with the hashtag ‘Only Females Get Cervical Cancer’ is the word “only”. There are already so many barriers to gynaecological healthcare that are difficult to talk about, because of stigmas and taboos – we want to break those barriers down, not create more of them.”
Using inclusive language in awareness campaigns for reproductive healthcare is often a red flag for those who think that trans people are a threat to women.
On Mumsnet’s feminist forum, where trans-exclusionary or “gender critical” activists are known to hang out, many people were quick to slam The Eve Appeal.
“How can a charity for gynecological [sic] cancer say that trans women are women?” began a thread of hundreds of messages.
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“It feels like I’m living in The Twilight Zone. I can’t support a charity that goes against science. This feels like such a betrayal. Women are not disgusting for going against trans women are women.”
The ensuing commentary was similar to the barrage The Eve Appeal faced after posting Karen Hobbs’ story on Instagram.
The Eve Appeal will be republishing Hobbs’ story, but in a different format so that it cannot be wilfully misconstrued and taken out of context.
The Eve Appeal spokesperson added: “Everyone deserves information about cancer. Cervical cancer is theoretically a preventable disease – with the HPV vaccine along with the brilliant NHS cervical screening programme. We need to make sure everyone eligible is able to access to screening and the information they need.
“We have a commitment to be inclusive and will put the information up in a different format that we hope will get this important cancer prevention message across.”