Can Labour’s Keir Starmer be trusted on trans rights?

Rishi Sunak stood in the rain outside 10 Downing Street on Wednesday (22 May) and announced that voters will be heading to the polls in a general election on 4 July.

Polls suggest that the frontrunner to enter Number 10 is Keir Starmer, with the BBC reporting that Labour’s lead over the Tories is more than 17 percentage points.

While Labour leader Starmer has voiced his support for the trans community in the past, his recent comments around trans rights make it sound as if he is wavering.

His pledges to the trans community range from firm plans to introduce a trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban to reiterating that the Gender Recognition Act, which allows trans people to legally change their gender, needs to be updated.

However, he has also voiced his support for so-called gender-critical individuals and has supported several Conservative policies which could harm trans people.

What is Keir Starmer’s stance on trans rights?

Since becoming Labour leader four years ago, Keir Starmer’s approach to trans rights has been a mixed bag of positive and negative pledges to the community, should he become prime minister.

While the former director of public prosecutions has previously said that trans women are women, and trans men are men, he and his party have U-turned and shown support for legislation that seems to say the complete opposite.

Last month, while appearing on Good Morning Britain, Starmer faced criticism for appearing to support gender-critical Labour MP Rosie Duffield.

Keir Starmer appeared to backed Rosie Duffield. (ITV)

When asked if it was right or wrong for Duffield to say “women have a cervix,” Starmer replied: “Biologically, she of course is right about that.” Previously, in 2021, he said such a statement was “not right”.

Members of Starmer’s shadow cabinet have followed suit in sharing controversial statements on trans rights, including shadow health secretary Wes Streeting who said he no longer believes trans women are women.

Starmer has also backed legislation that would ban trans women from female hospital wards, and supported a trans sports ban, which he said was “common sense.”

Last July, he described a woman as an “adult female” – a dog whistle phrase typically used by anti-trans groups.

Starmer has ‘thrown trans people under the bus’

Trans journalist India Willoughby told PinkNews in August that she found Starmer’s gradual shift on trans rights “deeply disappointing.

Willoughby went on to say: “That is not the traditional Labour way. The Labour heroes of the past would be turning in their graves at a leader who shies away from a minority that is clearly being attacked, day in, day out, with the most horrendous lies you can imagine.”

She was particularly shocked by Labour’s decision to scrap a promise to implement self-ID amendments to the Gender Recognition Act.

Keir Starmer on an episode of LBC.
Keir Starmer and other Labour grandees have been accused of betraying the transgender community. (Getty)

“I, like everyone else in the trans community, couldn’t believe it,” she said. “It’s[a] betrayal, a Judas move by Keir Starmer, Anneliese Dodds, Rachel Reeves and Wes Streeting. They have thrown us under the bus purely because they don’t have the stomach to fight.”

LGBT+ Labour, a campaign group representing queer Labour voters, has also criticised Starmer.

The group called for the Labour Party to create a new definition of transphobia, following a string of comments from Starmer, with more than 1,600 signatories saying they want a “zero-tolerance” policy on trans hate in the party.

After it was revealed that shadow equalities minister Dodds had met controversial gender-critical group LGB Alliance, LGBT+ Labour demanded an “explanation” as well as “reassurances on the Labour leadership’s policy commitments to LGBT+ people”.

Please login or register to comment on this story.