Labour Students demand ‘action’ on transphobia within the party

Labour leader Keir Starmer

Labour Students has written an open letter expressing its support for the trans community after Keir Starmer recently faced criticism for describing a woman as an “adult female”

During a BBC radio appearance on Wednesday (26 July), presenter Nicky Campbell claimed the Labour leader “struggles [with] the penis question”, alluding to the fact that Starmer previously claimed that “99.9 per cent” of women do not have a penis.

“A woman is an adult female, so let’s clear that one up,” Starmer replied, in a change from his previous statements, and using the term – adult female – sometimes coined by anti-trans campaigners

In a statement, Labour Students condemned Starmer’s statement, saying: “Labour Students reaffirms its unequivocal support and solidarity with the trans community in light of Keir Starmer’s recent use of transphobic dog-whistles.

“Trans women are women and trans men are men. Any statement to the contrary is transphobia and completely unacceptable.”

The group added that it would be “campaigning for anti-transphobia structures in the party” would be a priority in the coming months, pushing Labour to publicise a “definition of transphobia” to help tackle anti-trans hate.

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Labour Students didn’t specifically name anyone, but also called for “Labour MPs who have consistently espoused anti-trans beliefs” to lose the whip, claiming they “do not align with our values as the party of equality”.

Starmer’s comments came just days after Labour announced its new policy on “modernising” the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), revealing it would be backtracking on a previous commitment to self-ID.

Writing a column in The Guardian, shadow women and equalities secretary, Anneliese Dodds, said Labour would “modernise, simplify and reform” the GRA by removing “invasive bureaucracy”.

Dodds added, in a U-turn from promises made in 2020, that Labour would be dropping self-ID in favour of a “medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria” in order to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate.

During the radio interview, Starmer agreed with Dodds, adding that Labour does not think “self-identification is the right way forward”.

In response to Dodd’s column, LGBT+ Labour issued a statement saying the group finds it “very concerning” that the party is “signalling a retreat on their policy of de-medicalised self-ID”. 

They wrote on Twitter: “We will continue to lobby and fight for the rights of all LGBT+ people and push the Labour Party to continue to go further for our trans siblings, including on de-medicalised self-ID, and to build on their legacy as the party of equality.”

In a response given to PinkNews, the Labour Party describes itself as “the party of equality.”

“We’re proud that the last Labour Government did more for LGBT+ people than any other in history,” says a Labour spokesperson.

“The next will build on that positive legacy and break new ground for LGBT+ rights by introducing a full, trans-inclusive, no-loopholes ban on conversion therapy, toughening LGBT+ hate crime laws, tackling soaring waiting lists for LGBT+ healthcare, protecting LGBT+ people at work and modernising the outdated and intrusive gender recognition law to remove indignities for trans people.”