Wales’ first minister dismisses ‘deliberately divisive’ question about ‘biological women’

Mark Drakeford and Laura Anne

Wales’ first minister, Mark Drakeford, who previously declared that trans women are women, has shut down a “deliberately divisive” question about “biological women”. 

Once again, Drakeford was faced with questions about trans rights from Tory MS Laura Anne Jones, who he said “continuously attempts to raise” such topics on the floor of the Welsh Senedd.

In a video posted to Twitter on 9 May, Jones asks Drakeford if he agrees with the Labour leader Keir Starmer that biological men can be women. 

In April, the British Labour Party leader faced searing backlash from the LGBTQ+ community after Starmer gave an interview littered with anti-trans comments in which he claimed: “For 99.9 per cent of women, it is completely biological … and of course they haven’t got a penis.”

Jones questioned if Drakeford agreed that “that biological men can be women and therefore enter vulnerable spaces”, or that “biological women and girls’ rights should not be rolled back”, to which she added that the Welsh first minister should rewrite the LGBTQ+ action plan along with its aim of gender recognition reform plans. 

Wales’ LGBTQ+ Action Plan was released on 7 February and included a pledge of making the process of obtaining a gender-recognition certificate easier for trans people.

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Unfazed by the question, Drakeford responded: “I’m simply not going to get drawn into the shrill and deliberately divisive debate that the member continuously attempts to raise on the floor of this Senedd. 

“Did she not see that her party lost over a thousand seats in elections in England this week?” 

In England’s local elections at the start of May, the Tories use of ‘culture wars’ and the ‘war on woke’ – which includes trans rights – failed to garner them support.

Instead, the Tories lost 48 councils and 1,061 councillors across England on 4 May.

‘Your party absolutely has lost any credibility’

“I don’t think it’s wise of her to come here telling me my party doesn’t understand the priorities of people in Wales,” Drakeford continued. “Your party absolutely has lost any credibility it may ever of had on that basis.” 

Drakeford said that ahead of the elections, the Tory party worked to raise “dogwhistle concerns” on trans rights and “found, as I would have been confident all along, that people out there have a much greater sense of decency than the Conservative Party ever attributes to them”. 

“They are not interested in attacks on trans people, they are not interested in attacks on Black people, they are not interested in attacks on asylum seekers, exactly the sort of agenda that the member herself pursues and her party pursues,” Wales’ first minister added.

The Scottish government, under former first minister Nicola Sturgeon passed the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill in December 2022, a piece of legislation that makes it easier for trans people to live as their true gender – and aligns with leading international practices endorsed by the United Nations.

The bill was later blocked by the UK government in Westminster, in an unprecedented use of a section 35 order, which Sturgeon described as a “full-frontal attack” on the Scottish parliament. 

Newly-elected first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, Humza Yousaf, has pledged to uphold Sturgeon’s bill and mount a legal challenge against Westminster over the use of section 35. 

Drakeford has previously stated his unwavering support for Scotland’s gender self-identifying system, adding that he would welcome a similar system in Wales.

In 2022, he declared that trans women are women while answering a question from Jones about inclusion in sport in the Senedd, while making clear that there is no such thing as “too inclusive”. 

His responses were praised by LGBTQ+ folks on on social media, with one Twitter user writing: “Mark really is such a credit to Wales and the Labour Party.

“I wish there were more people in British politics with his absolute decency.”