Coffee chain Costa is facing a boycott after a caricature of a ‘trans man’ – with what appear to be double mastectomy scars – was pictured emblazoned on one of its vans.
Gender-critical campaigners have accused the company of being “irresponsible”, arguing the cartoon is “glorifying irreversible surgery” and ” promoting the mutilation of healthy young girls”. But Trans rights activists have claimed that ‘top surgery’ – which, like all surgery, carries a number of risks – “doesn’t harm people” and “saves lives”.
And Costa has defended the mural “in its entirety”, claiming it “showcases and celebrates inclusivity”. However, the image has sparked a furious backlash – with #BoycottCostaCoffee trending on X, the social-media platform formerly called Twitter.
The Costa van caricature depicts a surfer who is identifiable as a ‘trans man’ because of scars that are typical of a breast removal operation. While the photo was taken in the UK it is not clear where – and Costa has reportedly refused to divulge its location.
Actor-turned-activist Laurence Fox tweeted: “Dear Costa Coffee. You are promoting the mutilation of healthy young girls. I hope you are boycotted out of existence.” The Reclaim Party leader urged his 388,000 followers to buy their coffees “from a coffee shop tomorrow instead of a child mutilation support group”.
James Esses, co-founder of Thoughtful Therapists – a group of counsellors and psychologists who are worried about the impact of gender ideology on young people – tweeted: “Dear Costa Coffee, Could you kindly explain why you are glorifying irreversible surgery performed on healthy breasts of women for a mental health condition?”
However, a GP who founded a charity that she says has helped “thousands of people transition safely” has defended Costa and the image. Dr Helen Webberley – who earlier this year won a High Court appeal against her suspension as a doctor and can now work again – said: “I know where I’ll be stopping for my morning cuppa tomorrow morning.”
“Everyone shouting #BoycottCostaCoffee because it ‘promotes the mutilation of teenage girls’ have completely missed the point. Top surgery is a completely routine and normal procedure that helps reduce gender dysphoria in trans men – a debilitating mental health issue that sadly takes so many lives every year. Top surgery doesn’t harm people – it saves lives. Good on @CostaCoffee for being on the right side of history.”
The NHS says that top surgery risks include necrosis, haematoma, seroma and infection. And critics – like the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine – say that there is “no evidence” that ‘gender-affirming’ surgeries improve mental health and, by doing so, save lives.
A 2019 study that claimed to show a reduction in mental health treatment utilization among transgender individuals after gender-affirming surgeries was later corrected by the American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP). The publication acknowledged a number of flaws in the study
After reanalysing the data, the AJP said the “results demonstrated no advantage of surgery in relation to subsequent mood or anxiety disorder-related health care visits or prescriptions or hospitalisations following suicide attempts in that comparison”.
Maya Forstater, who is on the board of Sex Matters, a human-rights organisation that campaigns for clarity on sex in law and policy, also slammed the Costa cartoon. She said it was “irresponsible” and “sold a lie”.
Forstater, told the Telegraph: “The cartoon-like picture of a young woman who has had her breasts surgically removed is shocking and irresponsible. Young women are being sold a lie that if they have their breasts removed and take hormones they can become men, or at least avoid being women.”
A spokesperson for Costa said:”At Costa Coffee spokesman said: “At Costa Coffee we celebrate the diversity of our customers, team members and partners.
“We want everyone that interacts with us to experience the inclusive environment that we create, to encourage people to feel welcomed, free and unashamedly proud to be themselves. The mural, in its entirety, showcases and celebrates inclusivity.”
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