First-ever trans LGBT+ Labour co-chair, Dr Heather Peto, resigns amid transphobia allegations

Trans LGBT+ Labour co-chair, Heather Peto, resigns citing transphobia

Dr Heather Peto has resigned as co-chair of LGBT+ Labour, citing transphobia.

Peto alleges that other officers in LGBT+ Labour “directly discriminated” against her and that, while co-chair, she was excluded from important decisions by “cisgender officers [who] thought they knew more about transgender issues […] than I did”.

The veteran Labour activist quit LGBT+ Labour, a party-affiliated group that has campaigned for equality since 1975, on 28 January, just three days after the launch of new campaign group Labour Trans Equality, which she co-sponsored.

Moreover in her resignation letter, seen by PinkNews, Peto describes the launch of the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights (LCTR) in February 2020 as a “warning shot” to show LGBT+ Labour “it could not rely on being the exclusive representative of transgender Labour Party members and their allies”. She also reveals that “grievances” led to “this split”.

“A motion was negotiated through our [transgender] caucus for the AGM, which would address most of transgender activists’ concerns. Unfortunately, it was defeated at the AGM which led to many recriminations,” she wrote in her resignation letter. As a result of this, Heather Peto says, “transgender Labour activists started to organise independently of LGBT+ Labour.”

Alex Beverley, chair of LGBT+ Labour said: “We are very sorry to see Heather stand down and thank her for her time and work on the committee. As a committee and organisation, we remain committed to protecting and extending the rights of all LGBT+ people and have a broad set of priorities for the year ahead.

“Our officers and committee will continue working with our excellent trans officer to tackle transphobia in politics and the UK.”

Labour was heavily criticised for failing to address transphobia within the party in 2020, a year that saw Labour politicians quit rather than support trans equality, lose staff due to their “overtly transphobic” views, and align themselves with transphobic hate groups.

And as a result, trans and non-binary Labour members have been quitting the party in their droves, with the chair of the LCTR, Torr Robinson, warning last August that Labour and Keir Starmer’s inaction on transphobia would set the “party of equality” back decades when it comes to LGBT+ voters. Starmer maintains he is a “proud ally“.

In her resignation letter to LGBT+ Labour, Heather Peto says: “I discovered that despite being co-chair I had been excluded from information and decisions by my other core officers. This exclusion included information and decisions about transgender matters.

“One of those decisions appeared to be designed to create antagonism between LCTR and the transgender members of the committee. A crude form of divide and conquer. I would have resigned then, but with the AGM just a few days away, I decided to remain and draw a line under it.

“After the AGM, I made it clear to the new core officers, that I would not tolerate being excluded as I was the previous year. Unfortunately, almost immediately, I found that I was being excluded again, and cisgender officers thought they knew more about transgender issues and our caucus than I did.”

Eden Ladley, trans officer of LGBT+ Labour said: “I feel that I’ve been well supported by LGBT+ Labour since being elected as trans officer in November, especially on work surrounding GRA reform and tackling transphobia in the party – which is why I do not recognise Heather’s allegations or find them plausible.

“I am determined that we do our best for trans people in the Labour Party and the wider country.”