Jersey government facing online backlash over wording of cervical screening campaign

One of the tweets promoting cervical screening drew attention from across social media after excluding the word 'women'. Credit: @GovJersey / Twitter

Jersey's government is facing online backlash after one of its tweets promoting cervical screening didn't mention "women".

The tweet - which has now been seen more than three million times - was one of several shared on the official government account encouraging people to get a smear test.

It read: "If you are a transgender man, a gender non-conforming person, or assigned female at birth and with a cervix, you can book your free cervical screening today."

The post features Vic Tanner Davy, a transgender man with a cervix, who heads up the Channel Islands' equality charity Liberate.

He told ITV News it is important that women are represented: "It's really important that when we're talking about women's issues, we use the word 'woman' because women are a minority group when you think about equality and diversity - they are treated unequally and they are treated differently."

  • Vic Tanner Davy is the CEO of Liberate, the Channel Islands' diversity and inclusion charity

He went on to explain the advert he featured in was only intended to convey a message to the island's transgender and non-binary community:

"The advert the government asked me to do was a very targeted one - specific to the transgender and non-binary community. We are 1% of any population - a tiny population... who really do need that message.

"Trans men suffer from gender dysphoria - a diagnosable medical condition - and part of that is we're not comfortable with our bodies the way they are. But we do still have that part of the body that needs to be tested, and if we don't get those tests, we're at risk of developing cervical cancer."

Of Jersey's 103,000-strong population, only a small number of residents are Twitter users, so commonly tweets posted to the @GovJersey account are only seen a few thousand times.

However many more on social media took umbrage at the word 'women' being excluded from the tweet.

BBC Women's Hour presenter, Jenni Murray, said: "Could have mentioned women, couldn't they? We have to stop this ludicrous determination to wipe us out."

Women's Hour presenter, Jenni Murray, was one of the critics of the government's post. Credit: PA

Olympian Sharron Davies wrote: "Excuse me... the only word left off is 'woman'. What the hell is going on?"

But some defended the message, including Guardian columnist Owen Jones. He wrote: "The Jersey Government have repeatedly done ads aimed at women to get cervical screening tests.

"When they did one aimed at trans people, anti-trans activists all piled on it.

"So anti-trans activists are saying they want trans people to receive no targeted health messaging."

The viral post quickly transcended social media and had become the topic of debate for the rolling news channel, GB News.

Within a matter of hours, the Government of Jersey's tweet had become the subject of TV debates. Credit: GB News

It's not the first time the Channel Islands' governments have faced a backlash to the wording of a cervical screening campaign.

In 2021, Guernsey's health service sparked outrage after inviting "anyone with a cervix" to get tested.

Jersey's Director of Public Health, Professor Peter Bradley, addressed the outrage. He says the tweet was part of a series of planned posts carrying an important message:

"This post has been met with criticism regarding the terminology used to describe those who are eligible for screening.

"This specific post was aimed at the transgender community, gender non-conforming people and those assigned female at birth who may not identify as such, who are at risk for cervical cancer too.

"The inclusive campaign, which features four local spokespeople, three women and one transgender man, invites all eligible islanders to attend their cervical screening appointments."

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