Keir Starmer: Trans women don’t have right to use women’s spaces – even if they have a GRC

Keir Starmer and a toilet sign

Labour leader Keir Starmer has issued another troubling statement on trans rights, this time saying trans women do not have the right to use women-only spaces, even if they have a gender recognition certificate (GRC).

Trans rights have been used a “political football to divide people”, with single-sex spaces and the definition of sex in the 2010 Equality Act wielded as culture-war topics, during the six-week-long general election campaign.

In a new interview with The Times, Keir Starmer was presented with a question posed by author JK Rowling about whether trans people who have transitioned and have a gender-recognition certificate can use female-only toilets.

Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, Rowling wrote: “Do biological males with gender-recognition certificates have the right to enter women-only spaces? It’s a simple yes/no question.”

Starmer replied: “No, they don’t have that right. They shouldn’t. That’s why I’ve always said biological women’s spaces need to be protected.”

His words reflect what was set out in the party’s manifesto, which says Labour is “proud of our Equality Act and the rights and protections it affords women, we will continue to support the implementation of its single-sex exceptions”.

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However, in recent days, Labour heavyweights have failed to clarify that stance.

During an interview on LBC on Thursday (27 June), Bridget Phillipson, who is expected to become education secretary if Labour wins a majority in Thursday’s (4 July) election, refused to answer a question about which toilets trans women should use.

“I believe that single-sex spaces are important… my background before I became a politician was managing a women’s refuge. So, I understand how important it is that women have access to single-sex spaces, have that safety, that dignity, that opportunity to speak openly about traumatic events in their lives.”

When pushed on the subject, Phillipson would only say “common sense solutions” were needed and people had to be “practical”.

And on Monday (1 July), former shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth was asked a similar question on the radio station. “I’m not a toilet monitor,” he replied.

“We don’t have police officers outside or guards outside every [toilet]… matters like that are for individual establishments.”

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