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Mumsnet users declare Flora margarine boycott after brand cuts ties over claims of transphobia

Flora owner Upfield said Mumsnet's content did not ally with its values of inclusion

Moya Lothian-McLean
Monday 14 October 2019 13:50 BST

Users of parenting site Mumsnet have announced they will boycott margarine product Flora following a transphobia row.

Upfield, which owns the Flora margarine brand, withdrew from an advertising partnership with Mumsnet after Twitter user @mimmymum and campaign group Stop Funding Hate raised concerns over the existence of transphobic content on the site.

Now, a thread calling for Mumsnet users to abstain from buying the margarine brand and other products belonging to the Upfield group has attracted over 760 comments.

The row started after Upfield responded to a tweet questioning how its company values of being “intolerant of discrimination and harassment” aligned with a promotion that marketed Flora as “Mumsnet rated".

Mumsnet has repeatedly been accused of allowing transphobic content to run unchecked on its site. Of the top 10 threads on the popular ‘Women's Rights’ forum at the time of writing, six are centred on “debate” around trans identities.

I [shall] have to tell my mother to stop buying Flora though if they don't want her grubby money, she struggles with drag[,] let alone those who claim to be women all the time,” reads one comment posted on the Mumsnet Flora thread.

“Thanks for heads-up will be avoiding those brands going forward and I did buy them. Not anymore though,” began another.

“Great that a company is putting its values however misguided before profit. That’s very sweet of them that they are prepared to lose their customers over this. Oops.”

Upfield made its decision after concerns were raised online about Mumsnet content.

“We've investigated,” tweeted the brand in response to user @mimmymum, who queried how its brand values of inclusion aligned with transphobic remarks found on Mumsnet forums.

“We are wholly committed to our values, which include treating everyone equally, so have made the decision to no longer work with Mumsnet. #DiversityMatters @Flora

Former Mumsnet employees have also accused site editors of ignoring concerns raised by staff around transphobic posts and of dismissing any criticism as “smear attempts” by “trans activists”.

In December 2018, a Vice article found Mumsnet was used to organise action against trans-inclusive policies announced by Girlguiding.

Users were also encouraged to respond to Gender Recognition Act proposals – which would allow trans people the power of self-identification – by taking part in "Man Friday", a campaign asking cisgender women to “identify as men on Fridays”.

"Mumsnet will always stand in solidarity with minority communities," a Mumsnet statement on Twitter read.

"We don’t tolerate transphobic comments and will delete any when they are flagged to us. But we do also believe strongly in free speech.

The discussion of gender self-id and what that might mean for very hard-won women’s rights, as well as the rapidly growing number of children exploring gender identity issues, is contentious.

We know some people would like us to simply censor this entire debate but a similar number think we censor too much. We’re committed to allowing respectful discussion of an issue that is of particular interest to parents."

Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts introduced new forum moderation rules in June 2018 after complaints and denied the site allowed unchecked transphobia.

However, although the regulations stated that moderators would be likely to delete comments including transphobic phrases like “Trans-Idenitified Male”, used to refer to trans women, they would also crack down on uses of “cisgender” and “TERF”.

The term TERF is an acronym for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. It’s commonly used to describe individuals who identify as feminists but hold views that are considered as being hostile to trans individuals.

Ms Roberts has previously said that complaints to Mumsnet advertisers about the platform enabling transphobic sentiment to flourish is “thought-police action”.

It is estimated that only one per cent of the UK population identifies as trans, yet research shows two in five trans individuals have experienced a hate crime in the last 12 months.

Figures released in June revealed transgender hate crimes recorded by police had risen by 81 per cent in England, Scotland and Wales from April 2018 to April 2019.

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