Sunday Telegraph slammed for using transphobic slur in headline

Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph has been hit by a wave of criticism and complaints after they published a transphobic slur in a headline.

The newspaper was sharing the news that actor Scarlett Johansson had decided to withdraw from the film Rub & Tug, following negative publicity around her decision to accept a part where she would portray a transgender man.

The newspaper published the story under the title ‘Scarlett dumps tranny role’.

Members of the LGBTIQ community immediately took to social media to ask why the publication had decided to use the slur. A language guide released in late 2017 by ACON: The AIDS Council of New South Wales advises that the phrase is not an acceptable way to address people who are transgender.

Debate broke out online over whether the image being shared was legitimate. The images included the date and were published alongside an image of the newspapers front cover, but no page number was visible.

Those sharing the image and highlighting the inappropriate use of the slur were accused of creating and promoting ‘fake news’ when they couldn’t locate the article in their own editions of the newspaper.

A representative from the newspaper confirmed to OUTinPerth that the article had run in the early edition of the newspaper released on Saturday night, but the article was not included in the additional three editions of the newspaper published later in the day.

The online version of the article used the headline ‘Scarlett forced to drop out of transgender film role’.

Sally Rugg, the director of, shared her thoughts on Twitter describing the headline as “unacceptable”.

“There are words so poisonous with historical violence and persecution they’re no longer acceptable in public discourse. They’re traumatic for the people once labelled with those smears, and we are meant to be better than the past they come from.”

Greens Senator Janet Rice said transgender and gender diverse people shouldn’t be subjected to this kind of offence from anyone, let alone from a newspaper.

Actor and LGBTI rights advocate Harry Cook has encouraged people to lodge a complaint with Australia’s Press Council.

Author Benjamin Law labelled the comments as “vile” saying “If you work in a media culture that thinks this is fine and dismisses anger over this as hypersensitivity, you work in a place that regards some people as less than human.”

Last year the Press Council found an article published in the weekday edition of the same newspaper had misled readers by presenting a graphic that indicated that being gay was a health hazard. The newspaper printed the newspapers adjudication.

OUTinPerth has contacted the The Sunday Telegraph for additional comment.






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