Council deletes trans-inclusive cervical screening tweet after vicious transphobic pile-on

A model of a cervix

A council was forced to delete a tweet encouraging trans men and non-binary people to attend cervical screenings after transphobes criticised the use of inclusive language. 

Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire shared a tweet on Tuesday (11 April) which stated that “anyone” aged between 25 and 64 with a cervix is eligible for free cervical cancer screening, also known as a smear test.

The tweet was part of an LGBTQ+ health campaign to encourage trans men and non-binary people to attend screenings.

The NHS states on its website that trans men and non-binary people who have had a total hysterectomy to remove their cervix do not need a cervical screening, but those who have a cervix should have the smear, to test for cancer.  

The inclusive language used in the tweet was quickly attacked by people who claimed the council was erasing women, resulting in a pile-on by transphobes. 

The council subsequently deleted the tweet. 

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Responding to the incident on Wednesday (12 April), the council outlined the purpose of the campaign and noted health data shows trans men and non-binary people are less likely to come forward for cervical screenings. 

“This is a potentially life-saving service and we’ll continue to do all we can to promote it,” the authority wrote. 

“We always try our best to make the language we use in our communications as inclusive as possible and on this occasion we should have been clearer.” 

In response to the pile-on, members of the LGBTQ+ community came to the defence of the council and urged them to repost the tweet. 

Trans Activism UK called Calderdale’s language perfect, saying the aims of the campaign “takes priority over transphobic bullies”. 

Stonewall told PinkNews trans people face an “uphill battle” when it comes to healthcare in the UK.

“It’s important that healthcare campaigns use clear, inclusive language to ensure that everyone who can benefit from a check-up knows that it applies to them,” said Sasha Misra, associate director of communications and campaigns.

“Considering trans identities is part of this, as we know that for LGBTQ+ individuals, accessing essential healthcare services can be an uphill battle, especially when it comes to gynaecological health, sexual health, and fertility treatment.”

Journalist Owen Jones tweeted: “Can ‘gender critical’ activists explain how cervical screening messaging aimed at trans men will ever be acceptable to them? Screening rates among trans men are much lower, so are you saying ‘if trans men have to die so we never have to see this messaging, then so be it?’” 

Data from Cancer Research shows there are, on average, 3,000 new cases of cervical cancer a year, 99.8 per cent of which are preventable. 

PinkNews has contacted Calderdale Council for further comment.