A trans woman has been made head of an endometriosis charity, and I will not sit in silence...
MEET Steph. Steph, with her kindly smile and discreet touch of lipstick, her blonde bob and her cerise designer jacket, a silver handbag tucked under her arm and a statement necklace.
She’s the new chief executive of a women’s health charity, Endometriosis South Coast, campaigning to help women in the early stages of diagnosis for two diseases of the womb called endometriosis and adenomyosis. Not only are these conditions painful, they can make it difficult to become pregnant.
‘Isn’t it ridiculous,’ asks a caption beside Steph Richards’s photo on the charity’s handouts, ‘that I’ve got to my 40s before any medical professionals even mentioned endometriosis?’
At this point, I should point out that Steph isn’t actually in her 40s: she’s 71. And if no one discussed endometriosis with her when she was younger, the most likely explanation is that she’s a trans woman and doesn’t have a womb.
Though the charity yesterday clarified that the quote accompanying Richards’s photo was from a person the charity supports rather than the new CEO herself, the fact remains that Steph doesn’t need to worry about suffering from endometriosis herself— for the same reason that I don’t lie awake worrying that I might have testicular cancer. It’s physically impossible.
Because we’re talking about medical conditions that can be life-changing, sometimes with fatal consequences, I think it’s important to use clear language. Steph Richards is not biologically female. However, I’m going to use her preferred pronouns and refer to her as she, since I fervently believe everyone has a right to live any way they choose — provided that it’s not at the expense of other vulnerable groups.
I support trans rights, but not when they start impinging on women’s rights. Women are not a second-class species.
Males who want to be seen and treated as women, who want to actually be women, can adapt their lifestyle in lots of ways. They can wear wigs and make-up. They can buy feminine clothes, adopt female names and pronouns, and mimic women’s body language with head tilts, fluttering eyelashes and tinkling laughs.
But there’s one thing clothes and make-up cannot change. Even the most sincere trans woman must face the reality that her internal reproductive reality remains male. Aspects of female biology such as periods, pregnancy and breastfeeding are immutable barriers to the notion that a man can literally ‘become’ a woman.
That may be why female health issues are at the forefront of the debate over trans rights versus women’s rights.
There’s an active movement to force the language of trans dogma onto women’s healthcare, as though reality can be bullied into submission. And if reality itself cannot be, perhaps women can.
So what are we to make of Steph’s appointment? It’s certainly possible that a trans woman may find it ‘ selfvalidating’ to be involved in issues that affect only women.
We have seen other trans activists being given similar roles. One is trans woman Mridul Wadhwa, the CEO of Edinburgh Rape Crisis centre, who said that rape survivors who had a problem with her appointment needed to ‘reframe their trauma’. That comment doesn’t seem to betoken a deep empathy with female victims of rape.
Another is Suzanna Hopwood, a lay clinical examiner for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, whose job is to assess doctors who are applying to work in women’s reproductive health.
I don’t oppose the involvement of trans women or biological males in women’s healthcare and charity work. It isn’t always necessary to have personal experience in order to understand crucial issues.
But where reality is misrepresented, or women’s rights are undermined, I have to protest. And with the appointment of a trans woman to run Endometriosis South Coast, I cannot sit in silence.
Yesterday, Richards hit back at her critics, saying: ‘My birth sex doesn’t come into it — my CV does.’
Well, let’s have a look at her CV. This isn’t the first time I have encountered Steph Richards. She is also a Labour Party activist and a Women’s Officer for the party’s Portsmouth branch. On social media, she has used inflammatory language, labelling women who disagree with trans doctrine as ‘Terfs’ — an ugly insult, meaning ‘Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists’.
At a feminist conference in 2021 where I was speaking, Steph led noisy protests outside. This became frightening, especially when an Ethiopian woman named Zemzem Mohammed stood up to talk about rape in her home country, while outside the trans activists were screaming vulgar slogans in support of sex work: ‘Blow jobs are real jobs.’
After Steph and I were invited to attend a Reith lecture, where we didn’t actually meet, she said on social media that she had asked to be moved away from me, and was taken to a ‘safe room’ — as though my presence was a threat.
Despite this, she contacted me online repeatedly. ‘I agree we can’t change sex totally,’ she said, ‘but we can a bit.’ Then she said, ‘I have offered to share my knowledge with you, to improve your books.’
I turned down that generous offer, and also indicated that I didn’t want to meet in person.
‘I’m more than happy to travel up, Milli,’ Steph replied. ‘I know you live in Somerset. Think about it.’ Steph must know that I have received death threats from trans activists. She was saying to me: ‘I know where you live.’
The kindest interpretation I can muster is that she lacks all awareness of how ominous she sounds. That alone makes me doubt that Steph has the empathy or sensitivity to help women going through a diagnosis of endometriosis.
This disease, where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes and bladder, is debilitating and sometimes agonising. It can be especially painful during periods, and it can increase the risk of miscarriage.
I do not believe it is an exaggeration to say that no man, not even a caring husband whose wife suffers from endometriosis, can ever fully understand all the physical and psychological implications.
For a trans woman to imply she has an innate right to represent women with endometriosis is insulting and cruel.
Steph Richards does us one great service, however, by becoming the face of a serious problem throughout healthcare. The presence of women is being eroded.
Take this tweet by the Vagina Museum in East London: ‘Instead of “women’s health”, say “reproductive health” or “gynaecological health”. Instead of “women and girls”, say “people who menstruate” or “people who have periods”.’
In Surrey, Kingston hospital’s delivery suite published its monthly statistics last week without any reference to women, instead referring to ‘labouring people’ and ‘birthing people’. And Guy’s and St Thomas’ advised expectant mothers that ‘most people[sic] have their first ultrasound scan around 12 weeks’ — as though this service was equally applicable to women and men.
Language like this matters. A headline on the main webpage for Endometriosis South Coast warns that ‘one in ten people are diagnosed with endometriosis’.
The reality is that as many as one in ten women might suffer the disease, no biological men will ever get it.
This is not a widely publicised condition, and it ought to be imperative that this charity, set up to combat it, provide accurate information.
The charity seems to think that being inclusive to males who think they are female is more important than scientific reality. Appointing a trans woman, Steph Richards, as CEO prioritises virtue-signalling over the importance of improving women’s lives.
Yet again, we are relegated to second place, all to support the insane delusion that biological males can become women.