Red hair
A sperm bank recently barred red-headed donors, which begs the question of whether redhead discrimination is alive and well. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

People with red hair get a bad rap in some circles. A story about a Danish sperm bank refusing red-headed donors is making the rounds, and there may be such a thing as redhead discrimination.

Red-haired donors refused

Cryos, a Danish company that runs the world’s largest network of sperm banks, recently said it would no longer accept sperm donors with red hair, according to MSNBC. Cryos maintains it has “nothing against redheads,” but that there is little demand in the 65 countries it provides services in for red hair, outside of Ireland. Also, in  Scandanavian donors the company will now only accept those who have brown eyes.

The company has made these policies to combat cases in which the supply is greater than the demand. However, it begs the question of whether there is such a thing as discrimination against redheads.

‘Gingerism’ in the U.K.

Stories of discrimination against redheads, or “gingers,” in England have been around for some time. A 2004 CNN article says redhead discrimination being common in England.

A 2007 BBC article discusses a photographer assembling a book of photos of 300 English “gingers.” She found that 298 of her subjects had experienced some sort of bullying or discrimination for their red hair, including herself. At least one red hair-related hate crime had been committed, according to that article.

Tesco, an English supermarket chain, pulled a Christmas card from its stores in 2009 after complaints over the card’s caption: “Santa loves all children, even ginger ones,” according to The Telegraph.

Not confined to U.K.

In 2008, according to the Sydney Telegraph, Australian Trent Speering said in his murder-suicide note that redhead discrimination was one of the reasons he killed his mother and himself.

In 2009, according to the Los Angeles Times, seven middle school students were beaten in Calabasas, Calif., after other students saw a “Kick A Ginger Day” advertised on Facebook. Some were assaulted multiple times by different groups of students.

The same “Kick A Ginger Day” Facebook campaign was also implicated when a group of 13 high school students in Calgary, Canada, beat up one of their red-haired classmates in 2008, according to CBCNews. Two more redheaded seventh-grade girls were beaten by girls in upper grades as well.

Literary tradition

Redhead stereotypes are rife in art and literature, according to Wikipedia. Johnathan Swift, the Irish writer, satirized stereotypes of redheads in “Gulliver’s Travels.” Shakespeare made his villains wear red wigs, according to the BBC. Judas Iscariot,  Mary Magdalene and Lillith, supposed first wife of the biblical Adam, are often depicted as redheads.

Even Mark Twain humorously mentioned discrimination against redheads in his short story “Warm Hair” about a woman fed up with jokes about her red hair.





The Telegraph:

Sydney Telegraph:

Los Angeles Times:,0,1893029.story

CBC News:


“Warm Hair” on Google Books:

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