The man behind a suicide prevention group in Aberdeen said he almost folded after coming under fire.
The Evening Express revealed last week stand-up comedian Wray Thomson founded Man Chat Aberdeen to give men an opportunity to discuss their feelings online and in a weekly support group.
So far, more than 9,000 people have sent messages asking for support, offering to help or congratulating Wray for his work.
However, several people have accused the group online of not being inclusive because trans men are not able to attend meetings.
Wray said he sought advice from services that help trans men in crisis – but the controversy almost persuaded him to quit.
He said: “Myself and a friend spoke at length about the debate that was carried out online.
“Our initial thought was to pull the plug – the heat was all too much and it all seems like the reasons behind what we were trying to achieve have been totally overshadowed.”
One of those who criticised the group was Jenny Mannion-Krase of Aberdeen.
She said: “I commented because I saw my LGBTQ community spoken of appallingly by some members of my local community.
“The blanket exclusion of trans men from the group signalled to several would-be participants – not all of them trans – that they wouldn’t be safe or welcome.
“This is an incredibly common experience for my community, especially trans people, and there’s no reason it needs to be.”
She added: “The group is asking men to undertake emotional discomfort for their own mental health and personal growth by opening up. In-group conversations are really important but so is not being trapped forcibly in a single echo chamber of the only affinity group anyone will let you into.
“This is doubly sad because a group like this has so much potential and is so desperately needed.”
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Wray said that, in response to the debate, Man Chat Aberdeen would hold a fortnightly meeting each Monday open to everyone.
He said: “The group was set up with the best intentions and we want to be inclusive and our intention certainly was not to offend anyone.
“All feedback is welcome,” he added
The group held its second official meeting on Monday evening.
Wray added: “More than 30 men were in the room sharing, listening, supporting, reassuring and for a lot of it laughing.
“People left feeling less alone and more supported than before.
“A huge thanks to all the mums, wives, sisters and grannies who are suggesting us to their men.
“It’s amazing to see how much you care about the men in your lives.”