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Labour equalities chief: ‘Don’t make a big fuss’ about transgender people

Nick Duffy January 12, 2018
Labour's Dawn Butler (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

(Jack Taylor/Getty)

Labour’s equalities chief has said that people shouldn’t make a “big fuss” about trans equality.

Dawn Butler, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, made the comments in an interview with This House magazine.

Asked about trans equality, she said: “I just don’t think people really need to make a big fuss about it.

Butler, who is responsible for Labour’s policy on LGBT issues, elaborated: “If one of my team members came into the office and decided that James wanted to be called Jane and was now a woman, I would not say ‘prove it, what do you mean?’

“I would just accept where he is and his journey or where she is and her journey and that she is being her true authentic self.”

She added that there were “two ways of looking at” trans issues.

Ms Butler said: “This is a very complicated subject and there’s two ways to look at it, to be fair. I am in favour of equality.

“I don’t really care how people want to live their lives, if they are not hurting anyone then equality is equality and you should fight for somebody else’s rights as strongly as you fight for your own because that is how we get true equality.

“For me I want people to be their true authentic self whatever that may be.”

Of policy on trans issues, she said: “We will take each step at a time.”

The MP also backed trans women running for Parliament on all-women shortlists.

Labour is broadly supportive of transgender rights, with Jeremy Corbyn and former leader Ed Miliband both pledging their support to gender recognition reform.

But not everyone in the party agrees.

Caroline Flint has claimed that allowing transgender women into women-only spaces puts other women at risk.

Jeremy Corbyn (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Ms Flint said: “We need to think through how to support those from the trans community but not in such a way that compromises women’s and girls’ rights.”

The Labour politician went on to question whether transgender women who “look and sound like a man” should be allowed to access women’s spaces.

Ms Flint, a prominent critic of party leader Jeremy Corbyn, added: “It’s important that women feel safe there. It’s difficult to judge if someone says they define themselves as a trans woman but for all intents and purposes they look and sound like a man.”

“We need to make sure we don’t end up undoing the work to give women the space they need to be safe. There is some concern that a wider group of voices wasn’t heard on the women and equalities committee.”

Labour MP Stella Creasy was barraged with abuse last week when she spoke out in favour of transgender equality.

The Labour MP was targeted with a slew of transphobic abuse over the weekend after she came out in support of trans activist and model Paris Lees.

The pair both appeared on a recent cover of Vogue, which was commemorating 100 years since women won the right to vote in the UK.

Creasy wrote that she was “proud” to have been on the cover with Lees, adding: “No one said change was easy and change is imperative for each and all of us to live in a world where everyone is free to be who they are. However hard the road ahead know we can do it…even in overly high heels.”

Trans-exclusionary radical feminists then took aim at Creasy, criticising her for her support for trans rights.

The vile abuse misgendered Lees and claimed that Creasy’s support for trans people went against the fight for women’s rights.

One person wrote: “So, Ms Creasy … you think a male pretending to be a female is appropriate for associating with the history of the Suffragettes?”

“Absolutely shameful abandonment and insulting of women by @stellacreasy. Labour really doesn’t give a sh*t,” another added.

A third said: “The proud Labour MP who pretends she doesn’t abandon lesbians (since it’s transphobic to be one now), abandons the proud history of suffragettes (transwomen could vote, as they still keep their peerage).”

Another wrote: “Calm down, Stella. Please. You’re coming across as an unstable, impartial, nobbled woman on the edge of a laydeepeen chokedown. Get yourself together. No backhanders. If women can’t trust you, your career is ruined. And we wouldn’t want that, would we?”

Hundreds of abusive tweets were sent to Creasy degrading the experience of trans women and accusing her of being a “lesophobe” and a “handmaiden scumbag”.

However, Creasy took it all in her stride and quickly hit back at the trans-exclusionary abuse.

Creasy wrote: “I don’t subscribe to notion that it’s either trans rights or women’s rights. I don’t suggest its easy to navigate either.

“No one says these issues are easy – what is needed is light not heat and a commitment to make progress rather this kind of commentary…

“Lesbians and suffragettes I am really not abandoning you.”

More: Dawn Butler, Labour, LGBT, Politics, Trans, Transgender

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