Daily Telegraph criticised for anti-trans NHS women’s wards article

The Daily Telegraph's anti-trans headline

Trans campaigners have heavily criticised a front page headline in the Daily Telegraph as an example of “gutter press journalism,” with one telling PinkNews that they will be reporting the article to press regulator IPSO.

The Daily Telegraph published an article about trans women being treated in NHS hospitals on the front page of Friday’s edition under the headline “Trans row as men get access to women’s NHS wards.”

The piece, based on an “investigation by The Telegraph,” went on to allege that “hospitals routinely allow male patients to share female wards if they self-identify as women.”

Daily Telegraph article “incites hatred and fear,” say trans campaigners

It claims that trans women are not women.

“A physically intact male has the right to choose to be treated on a ward for women that is simultaneously declared to be single sex,” it reads.

Trans campaigners have condemned the article and its headline for fuelling hate against the trans community.

Ugla Stefania, better known as Owl, a non-binary filmmaker and activist, told PinkNews: “The headline is clearly meant to incite hatred and fear, and implies that hospitals in the UK are suddenly allowing ‘men’ to use their wards.

“It’s complete gutter press journalism, and a newspaper should be ashamed of publishing such low quality content with no basis.”

Under the Equality Act 2010, service providers have been legally obliged to give trans people access to facilities in accordance with their gender identity, including single-sex space, for years.

This exception to this requirement is where operators can show there is a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.”

Owl, who writes a column for the Metro, said they are planning to complain to IPSO about the Daily Telegraph article, adding: “I truly hope that IPSO will make a similar ruling to this clearly inaccurate and vile article.

“Trans women are women, and have been using women’s wards for well over a decade along with other women, and the official policy is that trans people use services in accordance to their gender identity. There is no sudden change, and this is clearly meant to stir up outrage and fear about trans people.”

“It’s complete gutter press journalism, and a newspaper should be ashamed of publishing such low quality content with no basis.”

—Owl, non-binary filmmaker, activist, and columnist

Owl highlighted a recent ruling by IPSO, which resulted in the The Sunday Times publishing a correction regarding its July 2018 article on public women’s toilets and trans women in the City of London.

And, on Wednesday (January 9), the MailOnline apologised to Mermaids UK, which supports gender-diverse kids, admitting that it “incorrectly” represented the charity’s views on transgender children and hormone medication.

Trans campaigner Juno Dawson on Twitter

Author Juno Dawson called out the Daily Telegraph on Twitter. (junodawson/Twitter)

Sarah Brown, a trans woman and a member of Stonewall’s Trans Advisory Group, said that the mainstream media needs to significantly improve its coverage of trans issues, comparing it to the vitriolic press articles about the gay community in the 1980s during the AIDS crisis. 

“Despite an increasing number of complaints being upheld against transphobic articles in the press, it seems they aren’t getting the message,” Brown told PinkNews.

“Trans women are women, not men. The newspapers seem to have declared all out war on us in the same way they did against lesbian and gay people in the ’80s and are trying to eradicate us from the public realm.

“They call us ‘men’ and tell us we aren’t allowed to use public toilets, and now we apparently aren’t allowed to have medical treatment when we are ill, either? Where does this end?”

Trans women are women, not men

Helen Belcher, co-founder of Trans Media Watch, which works to improve the media’s coverage of trans issues, told PinkNews that the Daily Telegraph‘s article failed to acknowledge the fact that trans women can legally change their gender because of the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

“If the [Daily] Telegraph wants to position trans women as men, or suggest that you’re only validly trans if you’ve had surgery, then they are 15 years behind the times and against the law passed in 2004,” she said.

“The whole campaign is increasingly showing itself as against trans peoples’ existing rights.”

Juno Dawson, a trans campaigner and author, meanwhile, criticised the Daily Telegraph on Twitter, writing: “Is it a row? Trans women have been on female wards for YEARS under the Equality Act 2010.

“They are not men, they are trans women. Please f**k off, this isn’t news.”

The Telegraph has not responded to PinkNews’ request for comment at press time. Camilla Tominey, one of the authors of the article, referred PinkNews to the Telegraph‘s press office.