Case Number: 3405

Council Meeting: June 2023

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Comment and Fact
Columns, Blogs, Opinion and Letters
Discrimination and Diversity

Ruling Categories: Gender

Stuff published an article on June 12, 2023, headlined ‘Terf’ is the ultimate slur against women.

This was an opinion piece in which a columnist wrote about the first time she came across the word “TERF" which was about ten years earlier when she got into trouble for using a throwaway line, in another essay, about the ideal body shape being that of a Brazilian transexual.

“Looking back, I now see that if anyone throws it at you, they invariably accuse you of all sorts of violence, while at the same time making vile threats at you. TERF, which stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist, is not a neutral term or a description, it is a projection of hatred onto women and usually older women. It drips with gleeful misogyny.”

She described the origin of the term, its usage and mentioned how it was used in online bullying and to shut down speech.

Bex Woodhouse complained the article was “HATE speech and is putting my life and those of other transgender and genderqueer up for debate and, quite frankly, in danger.”

Stuff responded saying that it published opinion content on a wide range of topics and from all sides of the political and social spectrum. Opinion content was by its very nature biased towards the views of the author and columnists were free to share their honestly held opinions.

The Media Council considers that this is plainly an opinion piece and not at all an expression of hostility or wish for harm to trans people. To the contrary it expresses support for trans people but the point of the article is the misuse of the term TERF and the hatred and vilification of those who do not tow the trans line. It is a fair contribution to the ongoing discussion on transgender issues.

The complainant is free to take exception to the article, but that does not make it hate speech or discriminatory. 

Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.


Lodge a new Complaint.



Search for previous Rulings.

New Zealand Media Council

© 2024 New Zealand Media Council.
Website development by Fueldesign.