LGBT+ Labour calls for long-overdue definition of transphobia amid Keir Starmer concerns

At long last, Keir Starmer has addressed Labour's transphobia problem

LGBT+ Labour is calling for a new definition of transphobia within the Labour Party, following a string of comments from party leader Keir Starmer.

A petition asking for the change currently stands at just over 1,600 signatures. It urges the party to take action “immediately” to adopt a new definition and enact a “zero-tolerance” policy on transphobia in the Labour Party.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has said he wants to “modernise” gender recognition laws but thinks 16 is too young for a person to legally change their gender – following proposed changes to gender recognition in Scotland.

Speaking to BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday, Starmer admitted there were “indignities” in the gender recognition process in its current form.

Scotland recently approved making it easier for people to obtain a gender recognition certificate. Despite this landmark move for the community, the Labour leader said he has “concerns” about the move.

“I have concerns about the provision in Scotland, in particular the age reduction to 16 and in particular the rejection of our amendment in relation to the Equalities Act,” Starmer said.

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He continued saying: “I think we need a respectful debate that recognises the different arguments that are being made.

“At the moment, this is being treated as a political football from start to finish and I don’t think that actually advances the cause of anyone.”

Starmer urged to ‘listen’ to the trans community

Last year the leader of the Labour party sat down with Mumsnet founder, Justine Roberts, saying children “shouldn’t be making these important decisions” without seeking consent from their parents.

Following the interview with the Mumsnet founder, lobby group Labour for Trans Rights wrote to Starmer, urging him to “listen” to the trans community, which reportedly received no response.

In another interview in late 2022, Starmer was asked if he felt “sorry” for Harry Potter author JK Rowling. The Labour leader said that “I respect her position on this. People do take different positions on this.”

At the 2022 PinkNews awards, Starmer had spoken in support of trans people.

Trans LGBT+ Labour co-chair, Heather Peto, resigns citing transphobia
Former co-chair of LGBT+ Labour, Dr Heather Peto, has criticised Keir Starmer’s comments.(Supplied)

Dr Heather Peto, who recently resigned as co-chair of LGBT+ Labour, tells PinkNews Starmer “doesn’t understand” the pain that trans teenagers currently face.

“I doubt that Keir Starmer talks to trans children, their loving parents, and trans adults.

“He certainly doesn’t understand the terrible pain trans teenagers feel when growing up and why having your identity recognised would make such a difference to you.  

Peto says Starmer doesn’t understand the “terrible pain” experienced by trans teenagers.

“Most trans people are aware from the age when they are first aware of gender, that their gender is the opposite to how they are treated,” says the former LBGT+ Labour chair.

“As a teenager you experience the enormous mental pain of your body doing the opposite to your identity, and society telling you they don’t accept who you are.

According to Dr Peto, in 2018, Labour’s front bench supported LGBT+ Labour’s submission to the 2018 consultation on GRA reform, which dismissed any concern that other Equalities would be affected by GRA reform questions.

“Given 16-year-olds could make their own medical decisions it should at least have been consulted upon that the age of application be lowered to 16; perhaps with the additional safe guards used in Ireland for 16-17 year olds’,” it explained.

“This has an enormous impact on mental health.  Having your gender recognised in law at 16 would make such a difference to the mental health of trans teenagers,” Peto added.

LGBT+ Labour’s petition currently stands at just over 1,600 signatures.

LGBT+ Labour has been contacted for comment.