Rishi Sunak says he ‘knows what a woman is’ in yet another brazen attack on trans rights

Rishi Sunak walking down a street.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak is, yet again, stoking the fires of a ‘culture war’ by backing a campaign against so-called ‘trans-extremism’.

The prime minister has offered his support to a campaign by Labour MP Rosie Duffield and Conservative MP Miriam Cates, who have made several demands that activists have described as ‘anti-trans’.

In a statement to the Express newspaper, which is heading the campaign, Sunak said he supports its goals against what the paper described as ‘trans-extremism’, adding that the subject is “personal to me”.

“As prime minister, it is my job to ensure that women are given every protection the state can put in place,” he said.

“I am pledging my support of Miriam Cates MP and Rosie Duffield MP’s call to protect women’s rights and ensure the dignity of women and girls by preserving single-sex spaces.”

Both Cates and Duffield have been criticised for their views on trans rights in the past for either making regressive remarks against trans people or purporting claims about the community’s infringement on women’s rights.

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In January, Miriam Cates was criticised for linking trans people to predators in what was described as a ‘dog-whistle’ filled speech in the House of Commons.

Similarly, Duffield has been criticised for using a number of anti-trans ‘dog-whistles’, including calling trans women ‘male-bodied‘ and refusing to acknowledge trans comedian and activist Suzy Izzard’s gender identity.

Their campaign makes several demands that have a foundation in ‘gender-critical’ rhetoric, including the exclusion of trans women from female sporting categories and mitigating legal trans healthcare for under-18s.

Rishi Sunak responded to their campaign continually reiterating the importance of what he described as “biological sex”.

“I know what a woman is – and I’ll protect women’s rights and women’s spaces. That’s why I am supporting the Express’s campaign,” he continued.

Culture wars ‘so far down’ list of voters’ concerns

But conservative MP Caroline Nokes hit back against her party’s views on trans rights, saying she believes the “toxicity” of debates on the topic will see Tories lose the next election.

“I know as well as any other colleague that general elections are won and lost on the economy, on how you deliver public services,” she said.

“Culture wars, when it comes to determining how people vote in any given election, are so far down the average voter’s political radar that I don’t know why we’re seeking to stoke division and hatred.”

In February 2023, Lee Anderson, the Tory party’s deputy chair, said it should put a “mix of culture wars and trans debate” at the heart of its next election campaign if it is to win the next general election.

In April, Rishi Sunak said people exploring their gender identity should be treated with “compassion and understanding”, while at the same time banging on about genitalia, saying “100 per cent” of women do not have a penis.

“As a general kind of operating principle, for me biological sex is vitally fundamentally important,” he said,

“We can’t forget that and that’s why we need to make sure – particularly when it comes to women’s health, women’s sports or indeed spaces – that we’re protecting those rights and places.”

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