Endometriosis charity slams 'transphobic' reaction to appointing trans woman as CEO

The charity posted Steph Richards' announcement on Facebook. Credit: Endometriosis South Coast Facebook

An endometriosis charity has criticised what it called the "transphobic" reaction of some people after it announced a trans woman as their new CEO.

Endometriosis South Coast has been forced to defend the appointment of Steph Richards, citing her "decades of experience in women's healthcare".

The 71-year-old tweeted "calmly working today while under a barrage of online transphobia" after the charity made her role public.

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places (like the ovaries and fallopian tubes) often causing pain, heavy periods, and in some cases making it difficult to get pregnant.

Helen Joyce, a gender critical activist who has faced accusations of transphobia from LGBT+ rights groups, described the appointment as "insulting and idiotic".

The director of advocacy at Sex Matters told The Telegraph: "No matter how small the organisation, appointments like these matter and women who have suffered the pain of endometriosis, which is an under-recognised women’s health issue, deserve better."

The charity clarified a "misunderstanding" on their initial post announcing Ms Richards' appointment which included a quote from a person the charity supports (not Ms Richards).

It added: "Steph is a huge advocate for what people on the endo community go through. This is why they were appointed, not because they have their own endo journey."

A follow up statement said: "Steph is an award-winning feminist with a rich history of supporting women's equality and has decades of experience in healthcare issues and pregnancy.

"In the past, she has worked alongside two pregnancy charities as a consultant and has contributed to saving hundreds of babies' lives".

The statement added: "Helping those in need has nothing to do with 'sex' - proven by the fact there are thousands of cisgender male gynaecologists and widwives based in the UK and beyond.

"We deplore the reaction to Steph's appointment by those who practice gender-critical ideology and will be raising this transphobia with the MPs we are meeting later this week".

Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, Steph Richards said: "My birth sex doesn't come into it .....my CV does.

"CEO's are appointed by boards/trustees because of their "skill set", not because of their sex (note I have a GRC).

"There are numerous examples of charities/organisations employing CEO's whose sex doesn't correspond with those they serve - look no further than Laura Kerby at Prostate Cancer UK and Simon Cook at MSI Reproductive Choices."

She added that she thought a number of comments made about her were "transphobic" and that "diversity should be seen as a strength."

Endometriosis South Coast describes itself as an "inclusive charity set up to support people who haven’t started their diagnosis journey, are going through the diagnosis stages, or have been diagnosed with Endometriosis and/or Adenomyosis.

"We are also here for friends, family, and cheerleaders of the people that have to jump through hoops to get started on the diagnosis pathway."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...