Keir Starmer continues to U-turn on trans rights – he’s now backing Rosie Duffield

Keir Starmer is facing fierce criticism from trans folks and allies for once again back peddling on previous statements about the trans community. 

In an interview with Good Morning Britain on Tuesday (30 April) the Labour leader threw his support behind the gender critical views of Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield – beliefs he has previously criticised.

When asked if it was “right or wrong for Rosie Duffield to say women have a cervix” Starmer replied: “Biologically, she of course is right about that.” This is a shift from comments he made in 2021 where he said such statements were “not right”. 

In his first public comments on gender and trans issues since the publication of the Cass Review, Starmer said: “There’s a distinction between sex and gender. The Labour Party has championed women’s rights for a very long time.”

The Labour leader said he did not want to go back to a “toxic place where everybody is divided” when probed if he owes Duffield an apology, adding he and the Canterbury MP “get on very well” and they “discuss a number of issues”. 

In December 2023, Rosie Duffield claimed that Starmer hadn’t spoken to her since 2021.

You may like to watch

“She’s a much-respected member of the Parliamentary Labour Party and I want to have a discussion with her and anybody else about how we go forward in a positive way,” he added.

Today’s comments follow an ongoing, gradual U-turn by Starmer on trans issues and come just weeks on from Wes Streeting saying he regrets saying “trans men are men, trans women are women… get over it”. 

In April 2023, Starmer courted controversy from the community and was accused of “throwing trans people under the bus” when he said “for 99.9 per cent of women, it is completely biological … and of course they haven’t got a penis”.  

“I think there is a fear that somehow there could be the rolling back of some of the things that have been won,” he said at the time. 

“There are still many battles that need to go ahead for women and I don’t think we should roll anything back. I think we should go on to win the next battles for women. And that is a very important sort of starting point for this debate.”

His new comments on Good Morning Britain resulted in backlash from LGBTQ+ people and allies. 

Trans journalist India Willoughby wrote on X/Twitter: “This is dreadful stuff @Keir_Starmer @UKLabour. In the gutter. Demeaning and dehumanising trans women, trans men and non binary people. I honestly cannot believe you are the Labour Party. Disgrace.” 

Political commentator Owen Jones also posted: “Remember how Keir Starmer made political capital out of Rishi Sunak mocking him for not reducing trans people to their body parts? 

“He did that because the mother of murdered trans girl Brianna Ghey was there. 

“As we can see here, that was cynical opportunism.”