A charity fun run for men dressed as Pantomime dames has been reported to police and accused of "poking fun" at transsexual people.
The Derian House Children's Hospice said it was "shocked" its fundraising 'Dames on the Run' challenge had caused offence and said it had apologised after a complaint has been made to Lancashire Police.
The run, described as "drawing on the much-loved Pantomime Dame character that is part of our theatrical heritage and supported by hundreds of thousands of people in every year" by the hospice, was labelled "dehumanising" by transsexual support group Chrysalis.
The men-only Dames on the Run race is intended to support fathers who 'do so much to hold their family together in the face of their child’s devastating illness,' the hospice said
Steph Holmes, from Chrysalis, told local paper The Chorley Guardian: "We get enough confusion with the word transgender, which mixes us up with transvestites.
“Transvestites certainly don’t dress for comic purposes and I don’t get up in the morning and think ‘what can I put on today to give people a laugh?’
“This race pokes fun at cross-dressing and, by association, us, reducing us to objects to be laughed at."
She added: “It’s a small step from ridicule to persecution... I am sure that Derian House didn’t intend to give offence. The very fact that it’s a children’s hospice should make them sensitive to potential bad publicity and the effect that this has on young trans people."
Lancashire Police told The Huffington Post UK they had received a complaint about the event but were not investigating.
A hospice spokesman told HuffPost UK that it dealt with "highly sensitive and emotive issues all the time" and "would never have considered organising a fundraising event that might cause upset or offence".
He said in a statement: "Dames on the Run was conceived as a fun event, drawing on the much-loved Pantomime Dame character that is part of our theatrical heritage and supported by hundreds of thousands of people in every year.
"It was intended appeal to the fathers of desperately sick children, who do so much to hold their family together in the face of their child’s devastating illness and who ask for very little support in return.
"We wanted to provide an opportunity for them to participate in a fun-packed event and encourage other men to show their support and raise vitally needed funds for the hospice."
He added the hospice chief executive had "immediately" written to the person who complained and was due to meet with her today.
The said the hospice was "disappointed" to hear of the comments from Chrysalis.