Daily Mail and The Times wrongly accuse Action for Trans Health of condoning violent protests

Trans rights protest in Chicago (Getty Images)

The Daily Mail and The Times have wrongly accused Action for Trans Health (ATH) of condoning violence against anti-trans activists.

The two outlets misreported that the trans group had called for violence in light of a fight between ATH activists and trans-exclusionary radical feminists in Speakers’ Corner last week.

Speakers' Corner fight
The fight that broke out as Speakers’ Corner (Twitter)

60-year-old Maria MacLachlan says that she was punched and kicked to the floor as the two groups came head to head at Speakers’ Corner on Wednesday 13, September.

MacLachlan, who subscribes to trans-exclusionary feminist ideas, was at the area with other TERF activists as they waited for a location to be announced for an event about gender.

A video showed the fight that broke out was shared online.

While it’s difficult to determine exactly what happened and police are still investigating, it appeared to show MacLachlan putting a trans activist in a headlock.

It then shows her camera being knocked out of her hand and her being punched.

Following the fight, discussions broke out online about whether violence against transphobia was appropriate.

“Punching people isn’t activism – it’s assault,” wrote one trans writer on Twitter.

Shon Faye, another trans writer, added: “Whether this is true or not – physical violence against women (cis or trans) even by women (cis or trans) is unacceptable.”

Action for Trans Health statement

Action for Health, who was one of the groups that helped organise a counter-protest against the TERF event, released a statement about the incident.

While it condemned the violence it also called for trans activists to keep on with the fight for inclusion.

Related: What is a TERF and why should you be worried?

“We condemn violence against women in all forms,” they said. “There was an incident this evening which will be hatefully and wrongly depicted by TERFs as male violence.”

They added: “We called this event in order to challenge and condemn transphobic hate speech. At the action, we had no ability to control or police the behaviours of attendees from either side of the event.

“We regret that we could not ensure the safety of trans activists from being filmed and photographed, opening them up to potential online harassment by transphobes.

“We also regret that individuals from both sides were hurt during the altercation. We would like to thank the people who acted quickly and efficiently to de-escalate the situation effectively.”

Action for Trans Health statement

In reports by the Mail Online and The Times they accused Action for Trans Health of condoning the violence.

However, they wrongly reported on statements from EdinburghATH, which is a locally organised branch that is an offshoot from the main ATH group.

On their Twitter, Edinburgh ATH said that “violence against terms is always self-defence”.

“Punching terms is the same as punching Nazis. Fascism must be smashed with the greatest violence to ensure our collective liberation from it,” they added.

However, the group later tweeted that they were “feeling a devastating lack of solidarity from the central ATH committee, not just today, but for the entirety of our chapter’s existence.”

They added: “Shocking today to see central ATH submitting neutral commentary to a gross Sunday Times article engaging in targeted violence.”

The Daily Mail and Times also identified a trans activist as the person who punched MacLachlan, despite no police arrests being made.

The offshoot group has called for people to make IPSO complaints about the articles.