Tory deputy makes cruel comment about trans election rival

Rachel Maclean on the set of BBC Politics Live.

The Conservative Party’s deputy chair has been heavily criticised after she publicly misgendered one of her general election rivals.

Redditch MP Rachel Maclean was heavily criticised after she endorsed a post on X, formerly Twitter, that described her Bromsgrove political opponent, Melissa Poulton, who is trans, as a “man who wears a wig”.

Maclean shared the post and replied, saying: “While the Greens don’t know what a woman is, my Worcestershire neighbours, the people of Bromsgrove certainly do.”

Poulton, who announced her candidacy in early December, said she believed the comments were “gaslighting” and “childish games from a government party who’s going to be out of office”.

“I’m here for representation as a queer woman, as a woman with transgender experience,” Poulton said. “I’m sure the people of Redditch will see that they are attacking someone for who they are.”

The Green Party candidate has claimed that, since announcing her bid to run for her constituency, she has received a significant amount of online abuse, including from Maclean.

You may like to watch

“Without a shadow of a doubt, it is a transphobic comment,” she said. “It’s dog-whistling of the finest. It’s gaslighting. It does have an impact on people.”

Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer described Maclean’s statement as “deeply offensive” and said the Conservative MP should “be representing everybody in the community, not making these nasty, snide and divisive comments”.

In a statement to the BBC, Maclean, who was appointed deputy chair of the Conservative pParty in November, said: “Everyone in the UK should be free to live their lives and fulfil their potential regardless of their sex, sexual orientation or gender identity and to have the confidence and the freedom to be themselves.”

Regardless, several elected officials blasted Rachel Maclean’s comments, with Redditch Labour group leader Joe Baker calling her comments “vile and hateful“.

“People who hold positions of authority should be looking after those they are in a position to serve,” Baker said.

“I understand that the situation is sensitive and I believe everyone has a right to their opinions, but when that opinion promotes hate and harm then this needs to be challenged.”

Please login or register to comment on this story.