Lib Dem politician Phillip Lee says trans prisoners should be segregated during car crash Mumsnet interview

Phillip Lee

Dr Phillip Lee – the British politician who dramatically defected to the Lib Dems in September, costing the Tory government its majority – said trans prisoners should be segregated during a webchat with Mumsnet users.

Lee is the Lib Dem candidate for Wokingham, having previously been the Tory MP for neighbouring Bracknell.

Questions put to Lee, the former Tory justice minister whose admittance into the Lib Dems threw the party into chaos over his views on LGBT+ rights, were dominated by the subject of the process by which transgender people change their legal gender and the supposed threat this poses to women’s rights.

In particular, Mumsnet users asked about the Lib Dems’ policies regarding single-sex spaces and gender self-ID. Mumsnet moderators had to ask users to stop repeating the same question.

Lee responded to a question about trans women being housed in women’s prisons and said he thought “a separate unit” for trans prisoners “is a sensitive and practical option”.

130 trans women in UK prison system.

Last month, government figures revealed that nine out of 10 trans prisoners in England and Wales are not in the correct prison facility for their gender.

A Ministry of Justice report said that of 163 trans inmates in England and Wales, only 11 are housed in the correct facility for their gender.

Officials counted 130 trans women in the prison system. One-hundred-and-nineteen of those are housed in men’s prisons, with a further 11 in women’s prisons.

Phillip Lee said segregating trans prisoners is ‘sensitive and practical’.

“I am a Wokingham voter, and would dearly love to vote for you,” said Mumsnet user PikesPeaked. “But how can I, when your party has declared that they will not recognise my sex-based rights, nor protect children, prisoners, hospital patients, from predatory behaviour??”

In response, Lee said: “The provision of women-only services in the public sector can often be challenging, with regards to these issues, as I found as the women’s justice minister for two years.

“My view is that, so that people who have made a decision to change their gender ID can be properly supported, eg in the prison system, there is a need for particular provision for those individuals.”

Pressed on what he meant by “particular provision”, Lee confirmed: “The point I’m making is that it would wrong to leave somebody in a male prison who is self ID-ing as a woman because they can be vulnerable to abuse.”

“By the same token, the women’s justice system needs to be confident that someone coming in to the system has properly transitioned. Because this can take some time, it strikes me that to have a separate unit for this process to take place is a sensitive and practical option.”

Users accuse Mumsnet of censoring questions on women’s rights.

On a separate thread, Mumsnet users discussed Lee’s webchat interview – with the original poster saying he “didn’t cover himself in glory” and another adding they thought he was “utterly cowardly and patronising”.

Mumsnet users on this thread called his responses to their questions “disappointing” and a “fudge”, with several saying “he really didn’t want women’s votes”.

And the issue of the number of comments deleted by Mumsnet moderators was also raised.

“I’ve just read the thread. Oh, Justine,” wrote one Mumsnet user. Another said: “What is the point of a webchat if questions are censored?”

“My question wasn’t just deleted – it was completely erased from the thread – no trace of my name on there anymore,” said another.

Lib Dem members objected to Phillip Lee joining them.

Several members of the Lib Dems resigned in protest when Phillip Lee joined the party, citing his abstention on a vote on equal marriage and his attempts to introduce an amendment to a bill that would have banned HIV-positive immigrants from entering the UK.

One person who quit was the chair of the Lib Dem LGBT+ group, Jennie Rigg, who explained her reasons for leaving in a scathing blog post that called Lee “a homophobe, a xenophobe, and someone who thinks people should be barred from the country if they are ill”.

The Lib Dem manifesto includes high-profile pledges on trans issues, including the completion of long-stalled efforts to reform the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier for trans people to change their legal gender, and backing the introduction of legal gender ‘X’ markers on documents, to permit non-binary and intersex people to gain legal recognition for the first time.

PinkNews has contacted Mumsnet for comment.