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Diane Abbott lands Labour in hot water with UK intersex community

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  1. How can any politician justify refusing to comment on whether stigmatisation of a segment of the population should be condemned or not?

    Any stigmatisation is abhorrent.

    Ms Abbot is known as a plain talking politician – why can she either not be plain talking and condemn stigmatisation or apologise for her carelessly chosen words?

    Ms Abbot has created an image that she (and by virtue of her position the Labour party) do not care about intersex or transgender people.

    I am sure that is not the general view of the Labour party membership – and probably not the impressions Ms Abbot chose to give.

    Ms Abbot should also know when to stop digging a hole and by refusing to condemn stigmatisation – she is digging herself into a hole.

    Its time she stopped digging, apologised and dealt with the issue.

    Whether you cause stigma to someone or not, does not need to wait until there has been a party debate on it – does she really think the party are going to change policy to encourage stigma?

    1. Another Hannah 25 May 2012, 4:23pm

      You are seeing the REAL Labour party here. They are a bunch of liars. and the statement that “While the Labour Party has historically been a firm supporter of transgender rights” is untrue. the legislation they introduced removed rights, and made life difficult for many of us. Pink News is clearly biased here, and does not deal with the FACTS.

    2. “why can she either not be plain talking and condemn stigmatisation or apologise for her carelessly chosen words?” – because she is a politician

      “Its time she stopped digging, apologised and dealt with the issue” – the other question is WHO is telling her to dig? She has to do as she is told or face being in an even bigger hole for being disobedience.

  2. When will people learn that life is a bit more complicated than just male and female? They aren’t as separate as we like to think, and there really some complicated medical issues that need careful research before making assumptions.

    I know Labour are in the middle of a review but condemning the stigmatising of intersex individuals is hardly “No comment” territory. Labour, behind the times as always.

    1. It would have been very simple to say three things that would have not affected the party political review:

      i) I did not intend to offend and I apologise for clumsy use of language
      ii) We condemn stigmatisation of any group of individuals or individual
      iii) We are currently conducting a review to determine how to address and tackle stigmatisation in this and a range of other areas, anyone wishing to contribute suggestions should contact myself or the Labour party.

      There – not difficult – why couldnt Ms Abbot do this. I thought she was more politically savvy than she appears to be in terms of how she has approached this matter.

  3. This will keep on happening as long as we don’t have trans and intersex people in positions of power within the political parties. In the same way that Dianne helps deal with racial issues, trans and intersex people need representation to help deal with their issues.

    1. Yes and no.

      Of course Trans and intersex issues can be dealt with and supported with (perhaps) more resonance by someone who understands and appreciates them better than either Ms Abbot, or myself – and that may well be trans or intersex people.

      However, many minorities (past and present) have had leadership on their rights from people who were not in those minorities. Gay rights are fought for by straight people. Racial equality is fought for by people of all races. Equality for women has been fought for by men. Disability equality is not the sole preserve of those with disbailities. It is entirely plausable that people who are not trans or intersex can lead on equality for trans and intersex people. Of course, to ensure that their support is accurate, honest, thoughtful, appropriate and sensitive – then they need to work with intersex and trans people.

      Please don’t take this as meaning I dont think trans and intersex people should lead in politics – I do. I just think that

      1. their absense should not prevent advances being made in securing greater equality for trans and intersex people. It needs to be in partnership though.

  4. why is it black people are so bigoted?

    1. Not all black people are bigoted – you’re dealing in stereotyping there which is just as bad as Abbott’s hamfisted nonsense.

    2. Like Pol Pot, the leaders of WBC, the KKK, leaders during Apartheid, Roger Gale, Nadine Dorries, Owen Paterson – yeah they are all black arent they!

      Abhorrent and bigoted comment, Sevrin.

    3. Intellectual castration is the usual reason any person is bigoted.

    4. Because so many have for generations been brainwashed by christians converting them to a superstition that flies in the face of their ancient beliefs and own culture –

      1. Staircase2 26 May 2012, 5:19am

        Oh God – here we go again…

      2. Also known as having a brain removed and a bible inserted

  5. There’s only one minority Diane Abbott concerns herself with. She’s the queen of tunnel-vision identity politics.

    1. I think its unfair to say one minority – but she shows definitie bias!

      1. Staircase2 26 May 2012, 5:20am

        Shame on you Stu – since when was representing your constituents ‘definite bias’…!?

        1. When you fail to represent other constituents.

  6. Paul Halsall 25 May 2012, 2:54pm

    Diane Abbot is a great politician, and has long been a supporter of the LGBT communities.

    She may have misspoken on this occasion, but it is ludicrous to cast her as an enemy.

    1. Whose casting her as an enemy? We’re pointing out that she has said something rather thoughtless and has yet to make amends for doing so. This whole idea that people build up some sort of “LGBT community karma” that insulates them from criticism in the future is backward and plainly silly.

      We need to have honest discussions rather than be terrified of scaring off our “friends” by pointing out when they say something out of turn.

      1. Paddyswurds 26 May 2012, 10:25am

        Who’s *** even……

    2. Paul

      I certainly do not see her as an enemy.

      I think how she has handled this is entirely wrong and she needs to put it right. That is not the same thing as saying she is an enemy.

    3. Staircase2 26 May 2012, 5:21am

      Well said, Paul!

    4. Diana Abbott has been a proven long time ally of LGBT’s, this has been a misunderstanding that has been blown out of proportion.

  7. intersex issue aside, doesn’t anyone find it odd that she raises concerns about obesity, when she is, well, to say the least, not exactly a paradigm of physical fitness herself?

    1. I can understand her wanting to address obesity (although not in the manner she chose) given that she is shadow Public Health minister.

    2. In the red corner, weighing in at…..

    3. yeah…Diane Abbott….obesity…


    4. So, what we’re really saying is that she’s a fat cow! That I can understand. What really offends me is that I’m not fat, yet as a man I had gynocomastia (I think I spelt that right) which necessitated surgery to correct the problem. It’s a very distressing condition and I never had any self confidence until after the surgery had been done.

    5. Childhood obesity is a hot politcl topic so it is no surprise that it was on her mind.

  8. Dan McGown 25 May 2012, 3:24pm

    I think that it would be both more pleasant and more effective if we ourselves tried to be a bit less touchy. What was said was spoken by a friend and susceptible to inoffensive interpretation. We should let it rest.

    1. I agree Ms Abbot is a friend.

      I think (and it appears I am not the only one) she has made an error in what she said.

      Why would she refuse to condemn stigmatisation? That is the crux of my concern about this.

      1. Staircase2 26 May 2012, 5:30am

        Thats bollocks, Stu

        1. I have several times and I think you are misunderstanding it – possibly out of misguided loyalty.

    2. With friends like her who needs enemies?

  9. What a storm in a teacup! Diane Abbot did not know what the reasons were for these 17 operations and supposed there was some link with obesity. That is not a ridiculous or outrageous mistake.

    There is no evidence to say that these operations were carried out on intersex individuals. Mammary hyperplasia can occur in non-intersex males.

    Having made an assumption and spoken once without knowing the facts she is now very sensible not to comment on the situation in relation to intersex individuals until she has got the facts! She is being very sensible.

    When she has the info I am sure she will speak. The fact that she says there is a policy review going on is good news. It means the party are taking intersex issues seriously and making sure their policies are up to date.

    Leave Diane alone and stop spinning this story to make her look bad over a small mistake. She has done a lot for the LGBT community.

    1. Thats not where I see Ms Abbott making the biggest mistake though Dromio.

      I think where she made the biggest mistake is when contacted by journalists who identified a possible perception of lack of sensitivity to intersex people and when this was identified, she was asked whether she condemned stigmatisation. Any reasonable politician (and Diane usually (although not always) is) would condemn stigmatisation – using a policy review is not an acceptable reason to refuse to condemn stigmatisation.

      Its an error and she should put it right

      1. Staircase2 26 May 2012, 5:28am

        That’s simply not true or fair, Stu

        1. Where is it untrue?

          Why is it unfair?

          1. Paddyswurds 26 May 2012, 10:48am

            ….as a matter of interest , what is Diane Abbotts educational background?

          2. @Paddyswurds

            She attended Harrow County Grammar School for Girls (where she acted in a play opposite Michael Portillo) as well as Notre Dame High School in Sheffield, and then Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read history (1973-76). At Cambridge, she was tutored by historian Simon Schama. After university she became an administration trainee at the Home Office (1976 to 1978), and then a Race Relations Officer at the National Council for Civil Liberties (1978 to 1980). Abbott was a researcher and reporter at Thames Television from 1980 to 1983 and then a researcher and reporter at the breakfast television company TV-am from 1983 to 1985. Abbott was a press officer at the Greater London Council under Ken Livingstone from 1985 to 1986 and Head of Press and Public Relations at Lambeth Council from 1986 to 1987. he 1987 general election – which was generally disappointing for Labour – Ms Abbott became the UK’s first black woman MP.

    2. Nope…doesn’t work like that. When contacted in the first place, she should have no commented, since clearly she didn’t know which of many possible reasons for these operations was correct.

      Then, when _I_ contacted her office, they wanted evidence that it might be anything other than obesity. That’s serious wiggling on their part. Like…my telling you that the capital of the UK is St Albans…and then when you just go “everyone knows its not”, refusing to even countenance being wrong until _I_ provide evidence.

      Its the wrong way round. If you – or she – makes an assertion about something, then you should be prepared to back it up.

      Second, i quite carefully detached the intersex issue from being dependent on this: i asked whether she would be prepared to condemn treatment of intersex individuals. (see next comment)

    3. Specifically, i asked her to comment :

      “1. on whether you consider characterisations by the Sun, amongst other papers, of non-normative body shape (in the case of men, the possession of “moobs”) as unhelpful, and

      “2. whether you have a view on the use of surgery to “correct” intersex conditions – sometimes carried out on children as young as 18 months – and widely condemned by many within the intersex community. ”

      It was to these last two questions that she declined to comment.

      Now you can read what you will into that: since she came back with a statement to the effect that a review is ongoing, i have since asked who, from the intersex community, is involved in that review – or whether they are looking for names.

      And no: that certainly would not be me…i can’t speak on behalf of intersex people…but just getting this story out means you now know a little more about what is going on Labour Party-wise.


      1. Jane

        Thanks for covering the story and revealing the errors that Ms Abbot has made.

        I find it astounding that she could not either no comment and then seek clarifications and issue a statement as you suggest or issue the sort of holding comment I detailed about (3 points she could have said!).

        I find it even more astounding that she refused to condemn stigmatisation – thats BASIC – I used to be a public sector manager who had to give media comment on occasion. Whilst no comment/holding comments are frequently used – if asked a direct question on a subject that is likely to be “hot” then a straightforward answer that does not dig holes is the best route to go. How can any savvy politician not know this?

        Thanks again for covering the story.

      2. If she is being asked to reply in her capacity as a shadow government minister then it is fair enough for her not to reply until she is sure of the party’s position and has had time to review the facts and make sure she gives a fully informed reply. I think these are complex issues that need proper consideration.

        I would question whether a government should be saying how an intersex child should be treated anyway. It shouldn’t be a political issue. It is a medical issue for the medical establishment to ensure they have best practise on.

        She could probably have answered the first question though about tabloid stereotypes etc but that’s a bit of a no-brainer.

        1. Do you really expect that she does not know what the party’s view on stigmatisation?


          1. Staircase2 26 May 2012, 5:32am

            What’s gotten into you recently!?!

          2. Whats gotten into me?

            I believe in equality from all politicians and I am equal in my criticism of all political parties.

            Failure to condemn stigmatisation is frankly wrong. Supporting someone doing so exhibits questionable loyalty – potentially blinkered to the facts.

            I do support a lot of DA’s work and actions as I have said. This episode was handled wrongly.

            Its like supporting Jack Straw for his stance on equal marriage and other issues but condemning him for other decisions he made.

    4. Staircase2 26 May 2012, 5:30am

      Well said, Dromio!

    5. Im far from being a Labour supporter but I can’t see what she has done wrong – she correctly stated that there is an obesity problem in children which COULD be a reason for some of the surgery being performed on minors. Breast Reduction is hardly a treatment men generally need. They asked her to comment before she read all the facts – they are still not apparent imagine if she hadn’t made a reply people would accuse her of not caring about the obesity problem which they would also assume was the issue.

      She was damned if she did comment and damned if she didn’t.

  10. Diana may have her knockers but I don’t believe it’s her fault the interview went tits up. She simply wasn’t abreast of the situation.

  11. Shake Spear 25 May 2012, 3:46pm

    She should be at home, cooking yams and praising Lord Jebus dat her real man is going to come home and give her some of dat good lovin’.

    1. So its ‘shake spear’ today is it?

    2. Your point is, its not quite clear – perhaps you should explain what you are trying to say.

      I have my suspicions but I would not like to make such ugly allegations – in case I am merely making a mistake in how I am interpreting you.

    3. Staircase2 26 May 2012, 5:27am

      I think you owe Diane and every other black person an apology – as does Pink News for allowing your comment to go unchallenged and un-moderated…!

      (If you don’t post an apology then I will in your name…)

      1. I think the racism shown by some on here is wrong and damaging.

        I hope PN will remove the racist comments. They are completely inappropriate in any debate on this matter – whether we agree with others engaged in the debate or not.

    4. How is that comment in any way relevant to the issue at hand? If you want to be racist then no one can stop you, but please keep it in your head and seek help for it because a site providing news relevant to a minority group is no place to show what a bigoted individual you really are. Go away. Get help. Most of all, open your eyes and stop being so nasty.

  12. This smells of Abbot bashing racisum and we all know PN is pro-Tory.

    1. If it was an attempt to ambush Diane Abbot – then why would she refuse to make a comment or not have supplied one to another media outlet as damage limitation?

      I have never voted Tory in a general election and have no intention of doing so, and I am concerned about this apparent lack of willingness by Ms Abbot to condemn stigmatisation.

      I applaud a lot of good work that Ms Abbot has done on various issues. She is usually positively outspoken and often very informed and thoughtful in her comments.

      This is the second unfortunate comment by her in a few months that has failed to consider issues of diversity – she was forced to apologise by Milliband over a racist tweet and she now refuses to condemn stigmatisation – what is going on?

    2. She’s made a daft statement. Has chosen not to condemn stigmatism towards intersex people after said statement. At what point has her ethnicity got anything to do with this?

      1. Staircase2 26 May 2012, 5:35am

        How is not commenting on something ‘giving a statement’…?

        This article is shoddily written and has twisted the facts to malign Diane Abbott. Whether that was done by incompetence or maliciously for political gain makes no difference – the point is that Diane CLEARLY didnt say what the headline of the article purports…which is WRONG and contrary to the National Union of Journalist’s Code of Conduct and should be corrected and an apology issued.

        1. How is refusing to answer a question (albeit making a very very late email when anxiety has been expressed on this site and elsewhere) on stigmatisation an appropriate stance for a middle ranking shadow spokesman to take?

    3. Nope. Very happy to bash anyone who gets in my sights. And if the Labour party is currently reviewing its policy on the intersex community, then i will a) happily report that and b) will ask the other lot(s) what their views are.

    4. What, what? PN isn’t pro-Tory, it just reports things some Tories say. Sometimes they are nice things, more often they are not. The only bias is against being boring and only reporting the left in glowing terms and the right in negative terms.

      And racism? She’s the Health Minister. This is a topic related to health issues. I have no idea, none, as to what her ethnicity has to do with this.

      1. Shadow Health Minister even.

  13. I think Miss Abbott interpreted the information incorrectly. Dont think she meant to offend. But still she should still apologize for her comments.

    1. She should apologise for sure.

      She should also explain that she does not seek to stigmatise and does not support stigmatisation.

      Its outrageous that she had left the issue of whether stigmatisation is right or wrong hanging like this. Its also a huge failing in media handling – basics!

      1. Agreed, think Miss Abbott should kept out of topics which she does not fully understand, as this isn’t the first time Diane Abbott has came out with comments she didnt think through before saying them.

  14. Another Hannah 25 May 2012, 4:21pm

    “While the Labour Party has historically been a firm supporter of transgender rights”
    No, the Labour party legislation on this actually took away rights – I know because it has meant no end of bullying and negative outcomes for me.

    1. hmmm…that is a much longer story and yes: i am not unaware of how that may have played out.

      I would say the Labour Party certainly identifies as being associated with trans rights. Some of the legislation they introduced was really the result of pressure from the ECHR, so one could argue not very willing there. But they didn’t have to bring trans into the Equality Act, for good or ill.

      I’d say the Labour Party likes to see itself as pro-trans…but like all parties needs to inform itself a bit better as to what is needed.


      1. I think what is probably fair re the Labour party is

        a) they like to be seen as pro-trans
        b) they think they are pro trans and (to be fair) can evidence some measures they took which were eg the equality act
        c) they are not fully enough informed about the issues that exist for trans/intersex people and need to consult more widely

        However, above all – they need to realise that stigmatising any segment of society is never, ever appropriate or acceptable

  15. Another Hannah 25 May 2012, 4:46pm

    Have to mention that both major parties have consitently treated the intersex community appalingly, and seem to have been quite happy to see terrible injustices done.

    1. I am a gay cis man – so please do not shoot me if my perception is wrong – help me get it right (I always feel like I am walking on thin ice when I engage in trans issues – so I hope I have got it right today!)

      I perceive it as labour having mixed fortunes with trans issues, lib dems (when in opposition being marginally better, struggling in coalition!) and Tories being fairly poor. Is that fair?

    2. alex mills 28 May 2012, 3:20pm

      Their decisions on the intersex community were based largely on the influence and ‘evidence’ of that awful pathological self-serving liar Stephen Whittle OBE.

  16. What an absurd story.

    OK maybe Diane Abbott misrepresented the intersex population with her comments (although I can understand her reasoning – I’ve read stories about the rise in male breast reduction being linked to Britain’s obesity epidemic also).

    However she clearly did not mean to cause any offence to the intersex population, and to get offended is a bit pointless.

    It would be better to focus anger on the vast number of bigots, crawling through the Tory party.

    1. She should have condemned stigmatisation though, even if you are right – although I do not think it is quite as straightforward as you suggest – although I think the initial issue was an error of understanding (which is arguably sloppy).

    2. I totally agree. I’m bemused by the chorus of detractors here. I’m baffled as to why this has been interpreted as a deliberate bashing attempt.

      This just felt like sloppy and sensationalist journalism to me, and pieces like this will only harm the impact of more meaningful reporting on this site.

      1. Paul

        I certainly am not saying that DA has gone out to actively cause problems for any segment of the LGBTQI communities, or LGBTQI people as a whole.

        I am saying she has been sloppy (probably unintentionally) in her initial comments, and thoughtless and politically naive in her failure to initially answer whether she condemns stigmatisation or not.

        Thats not the same as saying she has launched an attempt to deliberately “bash” the communities. I would strongly oppose that suggestion.

        I do not agree that this is sloppy journalism. This is sloppy politics by DA.

        1. Fair comments Stu. She can’t be expected to be an expert in all medical matters, but I can see how she could have handled her gaffe in a more sensitive way.

  17. Craig Nelson 25 May 2012, 5:43pm

    There is such a thing as a simple mistake. The article is a bit overblown when there is real trsnsphobia and homophobia out there

    1. Refusing to condemn stigmatisation is a mistake?

      Thats basic media handling training for non management in the public sector!

    2. A simple mistake can still be apologised for. If I stand on someone’s foot, or knock into someone I apologise to them. It really is as simple as that.

  18. Diane Abbott at best made an error in how she responded to the information she was given by the Department of Health and then made herself appear uncaring and ignorant by refusing to condemn stigmatisation.

    Diane Abbot however is the woman who said other peoples behaviour in sending their children to a private school was “indefensible” and “intellectually incoherent” and then did precisely the same thing.

    Diane Abbott failed to declare earnings of £17,300 on the Register of Members’ Interests which had been received for appearances on the television programme This Week.

    Diane Abbott claimed, at a black studies conference in Philadelphia, that “the British invented racism.”

    Diane Abbott claimed that at her local hospital “blonde, blue-eyed Finnish girls” were unsuitable as nurses because they had “never met a black person before”.

    Diane Abbott tweeted that: “White people love playing ‘divide and rule’ We should not play their game”, which again led to widespread criticism including

    1. accusations of racism. Only after being told by the Labour Party leadership that the comment was unacceptable did she apologise for “any offence caused”, claiming that she had not intended to “make generalisations about white people”.

      Diane Abbott made further offensive tweets after this episode. She suggested that taxi drivers discriminate on racial grounds tweeting that she was “Dubious of [sic] black people claiming they’ve never experienced racism. Ever tried hailing a taxi I always wonder?”

      When faced with media furore she has caused by previous errors of judgement she has ran away from the media before – strange for someone who is usually a media whore.

      Diane Abbott may be a strong character, but the values are inconsistent. Her support is only there when it benefits her. She doesnt care about stigmatisation – she prefers to stigmatise white people. She is a bigot herself.

    2. Diane Abbott suggested West Indian mothers were better than other mothers.

      Diane Abbott upset her African constituents with an article entitled: “Think Jamaica is bad? Try Nigeria” which included phrases such as: “when it comes to corruption, Nigerians make Jamaicans, and every other nationality in the world, look like mere amateurs.”

      In relation to her racist comments on Finnish nurses not being able to deal with black people – one of the Finnish nurses was actually black!

  19. Re Diane Abbott’s racism:

    Apparently she says these comments were taken “out of context” and is using the ever pathetic and highly patronising excuse that people are “misinterpreting” them, she then went on to add insult to injury and tried to feed us even more guff and claim she was referring to 19th century colonialists although the comment doesn’t include anything about 19th century colonialists and uses the term “love” which is in the present tense and not “loved” which is in the past. Not only does she make a sweeping racist statement the kind she would undoubtedly be outraged about if made about her own race, but she then lies to every British Voter by not even having the honesty to admit to what she has said and then insults their intelligence by feeding them the world’s worst and most patronising excuse which you wouldn’t even give to a five year old, she then rubs even more salt in the wound and gives it the old and even more patronising non apology, which goes along the

    1. lines of I am sorry if you were offended idiotic rubbish, which when you consider she is claiming it is all down to “misinterpretation” is basically saying I am sorry if you got the wrong end of the stick, implying it’s all down to our stupidity rather than the fact that she actually has anything to apologise for. Hence Diane Abbott is a lying racist hypocrite who hasn’t apologised!

      Good race relations are a two way relationship, we are never going to have good race relations or make any progress while this BS double standard hypocrisy continues to be tolerated.

      If she can not get this issue right, how can we be surprised she does not believe stigmatisation is a problem – she seeks actively to stigmatise non-West Indian people.

      Its no surprise that she fails to understand other minorities. She is a disgrace!

  20. Spanner1960 25 May 2012, 8:26pm

    Engage brain before opening gob.
    The only time that woman takes the foot out of her mouth is to change feet.

  21. Actually less than impressed by the number ofcomments on here referencing race.

    The logic of this piece was: there was a story in the Sun that appearedto stem from a remark by Diane Abbott. She is also the Labour Health spokesperson.

    Ergo, i contacted MsA about the initial issue and i also added some questions about how her remarks might stigmatise members of the intersex community.

    Her colour,race or ethnicity had nothing to do with a story that was essentially about remarks already in the public domain and her viewsas a health person. And i think it fairly poor for people to turn this into a race issue.


    1. Jane

      I respect your story and what you sought to portray in it.

      Having also written articles here on PN and elsewhere, I am acutely aware that it is not possible to control where discussion on the subject goes in a forum.

      I understand the subject intended was predominantly about her health views and her poor response to your request for comment.

      However, its also legitimate to look at her character (good and not good) and given her issues on racism – I can see some would see it as legitimate to link the two.

      It is frustrating when you write an article with focus and the conversation veers away (in part or whole) from that focus, but it is an issue we have to accept.

    2. theotherone 25 May 2012, 9:31pm

      i think the comments about her attitudes to Race are, though a distraction in that they have occupied so much time here, to an extent useful in this discussion as they point towards the possibility that Diane Abbott has a history of saying objectionable things and then refusing to apologise. I do, however, think that these could have been dealt with in one post not several and the downright racist posts that have cropped up here (as well as the strange one claiming any discussion of this was racist) are far from welcome and we should really get back to the main point.

      Rights for Intersex people are often trampled underfoot by both the LG, B and even T community and, frankly, the loss of focus in this discussion is in danger of repeating this injustice.

      1. You certainly have a point.

        I sometimes think that it is disappointing that whichever minority group is being discussed, that others of other minority groups either demean the group discussed or try to hijack the discussion.

        Now, of course many of us are members of more than one minority group so there is cross-group interests – but there should also be sensitivity (in both directions – and that sometimes involves not being overly sensitive to others clumsily worded comments, or comments which might be seen as overly critical).

        In terms of this particular story – which I think Jane has reported well. I think Diane Aboott’s assumptions are unfortunate – but her reaction to the questions posed by Jane are equally (and to some people probably more) disappointing.

        1. theotherone 25 May 2012, 9:42pm

          i always say you can be wrong as long as you are willing to be educated but DA has refused to do this, refused to back down.

          As you say ‘her reaction to the questions posed by Jane are equally (and to some people probably more) disappointing’

          I’m in the ‘more’ camp.

          1. Absolutely.

            The best politicians, leaders, managers, humans are those who have opinions but are prepared to have them challenged. When given evidence that contradicts their opinion they are prepared to review their opinion and change it if the evidence is strong. These people tend to admit they have got it wrong, made and error or misunderstood and can see where that error was. Thats a strong person and we are seeing it not in the issue of equal marriage from some politicians. Its a shame and disappointment DA could not be so strong and admit her weakness in this area and move on. If she admitted she had made a mistake then promised to put it right and sought to work with trans/intersex people or groups – how much better would it have looked?

          2. theotherone 25 May 2012, 9:59pm

            much better but she’s not one of those ‘good managers,’ she’s opinionated, defensive and as far as this issue is concerned dead wrong.

            another PR own goal from DA and another reason to distrust her

          3. That -mthe reaction -is an issue. I also teach media handling (anyone hiring?) and while i enjoy hunting down a good story, there are times when my heart sinks:when someone who has a perfectl;y good case to make just handles it badly.

            I,in turn,have no alternative but to report what has been said.

            In his case, media handling 101 suggests the following as best course of action:

            -in response to my initial contact,admit that maybe Ms A was not as fully informed as could be and express willingness to engage with the intersex community to understand better;

            – in response to follow-up, agree that co-ercive correction surgery is a bad idea…but p;olitely refrain from giving any more info on grounds of policy review.

            That would have defused the story entirely…possibly even made it go away…and left Ms A on the side of the angels against tabloid ickiness. Sadly not to be…


        2. alex mills 28 May 2012, 3:33pm

          I despair of the whole LGBT community when we cannot even muster support for those different from ourselves how can we reasonably expect others to? Whittle did more damage to the intersex cause than any ignorant politician by deliberately excluding them from his self serving Gender Recognition Act. They have a biological right to choose their gender, not an unqualified self diagnosis as in his own case.

  22. Diane Abbott MP 25 May 2012, 10:08pm

    Odd story. Asked a general question about Labour Party policy on the intersex community I pointed out that the Labour Party was in the middle of a policy review. It is a bit of a leap to claim that I refused “to condemn stigmatising of intersex individuals or to oppose ‘corrective’ surgery carried out on under-age intersex boys and girls.” I did nothing of the kind.
    Everyone that knows me will be aware that I have always stood up for LGBT equality.

    1. theotherone 25 May 2012, 10:11pm

      so will you condemn it then?

    2. theotherone 25 May 2012, 10:15pm

      oh and dianne: you’ve put your foot in it again – the L(esbian)G(ay)B(isexual)T(rans) community? What about I(ntersex)

      1. Spanner1960 26 May 2012, 8:23am

        Oh give it a rest and stop trying to join all the dots.
        Sexuality and gender are two entirely different things.

        1. Different but with commonalities

        2. theotherone 26 May 2012, 6:04pm

          and ignoring parts of our community is an old tradition too.

          oh and this isn’t about Trans issues you idiot

      2. alex mills 28 May 2012, 3:43pm

        How can you expect ignorant politicians to comprehend intersexuality when they were stabbed quite brutally in the back by the mouthpiece of the trans community?

    3. Diane

      I wasn’t involved in the conversation where you were asked questions.

      However, I understand you were asked the following:
      “1. on whether you consider characterisations by the Sun, amongst other papers, of non-normative body shape (in the case of men, the possession of “moobs”) as unhelpful, and

      “2. whether you have a view on the use of surgery to “correct” intersex conditions – sometimes carried out on children as young as 18 months – and widely condemned by many within the intersex community. ”

      Then you declined to comment. That is a refusal to comment on whether you condemn stigmatisation.

      I acknowledge you have been very supportive of many minority groups in the past. I thank you for this. I think you have made a significant error on this occasion, and digging your heels in makes you look worse.

    4. Diane,

      I am sorry that the story ended up this way…I did ask the questions that Stu has reposted above, by email, and you felt unable to respond to them because of an ongoing policy review.

      Maybe best now is to move on. I do acknowledge that both you, personally, and the Labour Party more generally, has done much to support the LGBT community…even if there are perhaps one or two on this thread who will take issue on the detail.

      However, if there is a review under way…and one which will definitely expand LGBT up to LGBTI (or even LGBTQI), then i would be more than happy to write it up on here and to give it the rave reviews i think it would quite possibly deserve.

      Basically, let’s move on and celebrate the positive which i think may be lurking at the back of this, rather than rehashing the negative.


      1. Staircase2 26 May 2012, 5:25am

        See – thats wrong Jane – I had already typed up my response before seeing what Diane had to say for herself.

        The article was shoddy – its simply not good enough to artifically bismirch the woman’s reputation and then claim “Maybe best now is to move on”

        YOU wrote the article – RE-WRITE IT.

        Your article whips up a storm where there wasn’t one and is irresponsible. Just reading the comments that most people (even the usually lucid) demonstrate that people have been waylaid by your article – common decency demands that you amend it to portray the circumstances accurately.

        The subject matter is too important to be tied down in petty Abbott bashing – SORT IT OUT!

        1. So you decided on your response before knowing the “facts” from both sides?

          Judgemental, somewhat? Prejudging the story?

      2. Holly Greenberry 26 May 2012, 9:33am

        We at intersexuk agree, well said Jane, we are happy to hrlp and assist Diane as we are already having meetings with ministerial separtments and some MPs and Lords. Regards, Holly Greenberry.
        PS our site is down for rebuild and upgrade, we are on twitter though #intersexuk . Miss representation in tabloids is awful, but Pink news do a great job.

        1. Holly Greenberry 26 May 2012, 9:35am

          apologogies (typos) i phone keypad.

    5. Craig Denney 26 May 2012, 1:21am


      I have been campaigning for 26 years for gay rights and I cannot get my ‘own’ head round intersex issues.

      So what chance do you have?

      1. I must admit (and I have said this regularly on PN) that I striuggle with intersex and trans issues – but I try to understand and am willing to listen and change my views if I misunderstand or get it wrong. I am sure you try to do this too, Craig (you are usually pretty reasonable!).

        For me, its not so much about the initial conclusions that DA jumped to about obesity and that this was clumsy – thats a mistake many would make (and perhaps thats something that needs to be thought about in wider society). She could however have acknowledged this when it was identified to her/

        Its more about having had an opportunity to condemn stigmatisation she declined to answer a question about it.

        Thats a serious error of judgement for any reasonable politician – and DA usually (although I accept not all agree with this) is pretty reasonable and thoughtful.

    6. Holly Greenberry 26 May 2012, 9:04am

      Diane, we are very happy to meet and offer guidance we are already in discussion with advocate supports in the Lords and now meeting with Ministerial Departments. Our site is down but you can email us at, we can highlight the progression and non tabloid focus / response in which we are progressively moving forward. Of course we realise papers often miss quote. This is a really very serious issue affecting betwen 1:200 and 1:20,000 UK citizens; dependant on the type of DSD / intersex condition that ‘we look at’.

      Kind Regards Holly Greenberry ( Co founder intersexuk)
      Apologies that our web site is temporarily down for rebuild and upgrade purposes, however we are already working within the ‘houses’ / departments and would be happy to assist you and your understandable need for better information and ‘unintentional’ poor representation in the press on this matter.

      1. alex mills 28 May 2012, 3:51pm

        How can you expect ignorant politicians to comprehend intersexuality when they were stabbed quite brutally in the back by the mouthpiece of the trans community? Professor Stephen Whittle OBE.

  23. A late development: an e-mail back from Ms Abbott which i think worth sharing with folk here. She writes:

    “We are in the middle of deciding exactly what shape the policy review should take. So, if you have any policy proposals that you want the Labour Party to consider, please send them in.

    “And it goes without saying the Labour Party is not, and never has been, in favour of “forced cosmetic surgery on under-age individuals” “

    1. theotherone 25 May 2012, 11:13pm

      i thought they where ‘in the middle of a policy review’

      still it’s welcome to find her responding to your points.

    2. Good to see you got a response.

      Why couldnt she have said that a little earlier?

      Hopefully the policy review will have strong and positive outcomes. I’m cis so I recognise that I am probably not best to contribute but I hope many trans/intersex people do.

      1. theotherone 26 May 2012, 12:07am

        i won’t contribute either as I don’t wish to step on other people’s toes.

    3. Still not able to take a stand against stigmatism though. Disapointing.

    4. Staircase2 26 May 2012, 5:17am

      I think it would be better to put that onto the article itself actually, Jane, rather than posting a comment on the comments boards where only dedicated posters are likely to even see it…

      I’m shocked that this story was bent and distorted into a Diane Abbott bashing in the first place for political gain when the actual information doesn’t even support the headline.

      1. I may be wrong, Staircase2

        I wonder if Jane (like myself when I have written PN articles) has no ability to immediately edit stories – so adding a comment here would have been the most instantaneous method of addressing the email that DA sent late after failing to respond to earlier requests for comment about stigmatisation.

        1. Spot on, stu. In fact, I thought it fairest to get this out asap…as opposed to waiting for Monday. I also slightly sacrificed a follow-up story by going with her comment straight away.

  24. Staircase2 26 May 2012, 5:13am

    What a bloody hoo-hah!

    The original question didnt even relate to the question of Intersex related operations.

    I find it shameful that Pink News has chosen to bend and distort its very own story into a headline which misleads its readers so much.

    Based on the facts as given in the Pink News article, it would appear that Jennie Kermode is using this as an opportunity to raise awareness of Intersex issues.

    While that in itself is to be applauded, to dunk Diane Abbott in the sh!t merely for making that possible seems very very very wrong.

    That Stu has got the wrong end of the stick shows how worrying this article is – he’s usually one for methodical dissection of an article. If he can’t pick out the actual details of the case from the writing then other people are likely to fall into the same trap.


    1. I really am not convinced that I got it wrong.

      Please evidence where DA was willing to condemn stigmatisation prior to her late email.

    2. Er, yes. That is the problem. The original story contained one fact – about incidence of surgery. A lot of guff about overweight. And one comment, from ms Abbott linking the fact to obesity.

      Invited to think again, her office refused to. Invited to comment on intersex abuse irrespective of a definite conclusion about cause of boobs, again they ducked.

      Politicians must be presumed to be very aware of what they say. Refusal to respond is, itself, a significant fact.


  25. Staircase2 26 May 2012, 5:38am

    “Very happy to bash anyone who gets in my sights. And if the Labour party is currently reviewing its policy on the intersex community, then i will a) happily report that and b) will ask the other lot(s) what their views are.”

    Might I suggest this has more to do with your own agenda than it does with anything Diane Abbott didn’t actually say….

  26. Holly Greenberry 26 May 2012, 8:50am

    Intersexuk dot org agree with Jenny. Well said Jenny.
    Also, Which ever government is in power- the awareness of varying Intersex conditions / DSDs is an urgent must by the UK government as is the attention to the unintentional breach of certain human rights which to varying degrees affect all people with intersex conditions / DSDs, this is a matter we are discussing in the UK and with Government. We support Jenny in her comments. Diane Abbot simply needs as many others do to learn a little about this hidden and very difficult situation. We are happy to assist here. Intersex children, teens and young adults need their rights and ‘choices’ protecting as non intersex children and teens and young adults experience, education and outreach with sensitivity and an open mind matter, hence intersexuk dot org exists and work with other activists. ( our site is down temporarily for rebuild and new layout / function etc).

  27. Well done Pinknews, never miss an opportunity to knock a labour MP. How did a question relating to breast reduction move to a position of endorsement of genital mutilation. My understanding of the human body tells me that those are two very different areas!!
    As for the promotion of body normative people need to be realistic, for some having noobs is a major issue that can affect personal self esteem. Getting the NHS to conduct any proceedure of this nature is extremely difficult and Idout if its purely down to ticking boxes about producing an ideal body.
    Perhaps Dianne should have made a more positive clarification of what her point was but why should she when being asked about something that does not relate to the question she posed.

    1. um…did you read the article? The one thing these ops probably did NOT relate to was obesity. That makes them either a hormonal or intersex condition.

      Those two are not entirely exclusive.

      Behind the ops is a climate of body normativity, fostered by the likes of the Sun, that happily headlines moobs as “shameful”. In one case in which they did this, it very much looks as though the individual feeling “shame”, which the Sun endorsed,was intersex.

      The basic principle here: that if you back body normativity by describing non-normative as shameful, you are very much providing encouragement to a wider culture of surgical intervention to normalise intersex bodies.

      That happens to young girls: and this, if we are talking intersex, is an extension of that principle.


    2. Or to put it another way. What many in the intersex community are asking/suggesting is: please stop telling us we should be ashamed of just being who we are;provide us with support for that; and stop trying to change our bodies to fit in with your ideas of what is normal.

      A bit like the attitude of the gay community towards reparative therapy.

      Or are you saying that since some individuals who are gay still feel ashamed to be so, the NHS should be funding psychotherapy to help “cure” them?


  28. Diane Abbott is only capable of gaffes. She’s a well intentioned moron.

    Much like most of the Labour front bench tbf.

  29. Inspector General 26 May 2012, 12:50pm

    I say gay types, what’s this all about ! We can’t discuss natures freaks now without accusations flying everywhere. Do take an adult view, will you…

    1. Ignore the irrelevant troll

      1. Inspector General 26 May 2012, 1:16pm

        You should be out in the good weather, not indoors complaining again…

        1. Ben Foster 26 May 2012, 1:37pm

          There is such thing as wi-fi these days, twit. We can be
          out in the sunshine and still call you out for the fool you are.

          1. Relaxing in the garden with the laptop is a great way to pass the time!

        2. “You should be out in the good weather, not indoors complaining again…”

          Says some one complaining again on the site . . .

    2. This is the adult view.

    3. And your childish attempt to stir up controversy is what precisely? Adult? More like Idiot

    4. I say Ex-gay types, grow up, and you might then begin to understand adult discussions!

  30. Strange question, now can I ask one, Sevrin were you born a knob or did you just choose to be one?

  31. vversatile 26 May 2012, 3:50pm

    “has long been a supporter of the LGBT communities”
    So much so that chose a song by Buju Banton (who also sings about shooting gay men and performing corrective rape on lesbians) as one of Desert Island Discs on radio 4.

    Frankly, I’d rather not have friends like Diane Abbot

  32. alex mills 28 May 2012, 3:12pm

    The awful self serving Whittle is responsible for throwing the intersex community to the wolves. What a nasty little bully he is.

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