Everyone needs to be ‘more relaxed’ about transgender people, says Emily Thornberry

Labour’s Emily Thornberry has said it is “desperately sad” that the debate on transgender rights has become aggressive.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary, who is considered a possible frontrunner to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, weighed in after substantial turmoil within the party on trans issues.

Labour faced a wave of resignations from anti-transgender feminists in May this year, after the party refused to alter its policies for women-only shortlists to exclude transgender women.

Opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn applauds as Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry waves to delegates at Labour conference (Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty)

Speaking to the Times Red Box podcast at Labour Party conference in Liverpool, Thornberry dismissed fears that trans women—who currently hold zero seats in Parliament—would edge out the party’s female MPs and candidates.

She said: “Sometimes, people say, ‘what about all-women shortlists, there’s going to be a whole lot of men turning up in dresses and insisting on [running].’

“Really? Really? Let’s leave it to the good sense of local parties. They will decide who they’re going to have on their shortlist and who they aren’t.

“They will know people who are genuinely struggling with their identity, and people who can contribute to parliament and who would be a good representative of their community.

“I think we really can be a little bit more relaxed about it. I think it’s desperately sad to see the way it’s become so aggressive, and we need to step down a bit.”

The politician added that she found much of the debate “challenging.”

Opposition Labour party shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry addresses delegates at the Labour party conference in Liverpool, on September 25. (Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty) 

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