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Exclusive: Labour confirms its all-women shortlists are open to self-identifying transgender women

Josh Jackman January 24, 2018
BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 27: Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn addresses delegates on the final day of the Labour Party conference on September 26, 2017 in Brighton, England. Mr Corbyn is expected to speak about his party's new policies and present Labour as a government in waiting in his keynote address. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

(Getty)

PinkNews Exclusive

Labour has confirmed that self-identifying transgender women are welcome to apply for all-women shortlists.

For more than a decade, the UK’s Labour Party has employed all-women shortlists in some constituencies in a bid to boost the number of female MPs in Parliament.

Dr Heather Peto – a candidate for MP for Melton last year – with former Labour leader Ed Miliband

A row blew up this month as anti-transgender feminists launched a bid to block trans women from standing on women’s shortlists.

There are no openly trans MPs, but more than 1,000 donors have raised more than £19,000 to pursue legal action against the party, claiming that “transgender-identified males” were pushing “biological” women out.

(GoFundMe)

But despite pressure from TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) within Labour, the party has clarified its position at a meeting of the ruling National Executive Committee (NEC).

Speaking to PinkNews, a Labour Party spokesperson said: “At the NEC yesterday it was confirmed that all women shortlists are and always have been open to all women, which of course includes trans women.

Sophie Cook

“The Party will consult with key stakeholders about the wording of this policy and will issue guidance to CLPs.”

In a further statement, a party spokesperson told PinkNews: “The Labour Party recognises the vital importance of self-definition for the Trans community, which is why we are calling on the Government to reform the Gender Recognition Act and the Equality Act 2010 to change the protected characteristic of ‘gender reassignment’ to ‘gender identity’ to support self-identification.

“If the Conservatives fail to do so, Labour will make it law once we’re in government.”

It is understood that the party’s approach includes not turning away self-identifying trans women from all-women shortlists, though the party has refused repeated requests to explicitly say so.

This is because party officials are working on clearing up the wording of Labour’s policy on the issue, which will be revealed at the next NEC meeting in March.

The move should calm some of the fears prompted by Labour’s confusing approach to the issue.

(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Last week, the party led people to believe trans women may need a legal document known as a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) to stand on one of the shortlists.

Rhea Wolfson, a left-wing campaigner who sits on the NEC, posted an account of a meeting which suggested as much.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 27: Scottish Labour Party leader Richard Leonard joined by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as they address party activists at the Lighthouse on November 27, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland. The newly elected Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard gave his first keynote speech where he promised to "reshape and recharge" the party in Scotland in the same way Jeremy Corbyn has at Westminster. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
(Getty)

Many trans people have never obtained GRCs, as they are costly, require people to pass a number of bureaucratic hurdles and are not generally required to change gender on official documents.

Wolfson wrote: “In Equalities Committee the issue of the inclusion of trans women in All Women Shortlists was discussed.

“Members of the committee were unanimous in their support for trans women in our party, sending solidarity to our comrades who have faced abuse and been targeted recently.

(Facebook/rhea wolfson)

“The position was clarified that trans women with a Gender Recognition Certificate are welcome and encouraged to stand in AWS, as per the legislation.

Anti-trans campaigners quickly seized on the news.

The ‘Keep All-Women Shortlists Female!’ campaign group wrote: “[The] Labour party has come out and said self-ID transwomen are NOT entitled to apply to on AWS.

Jeremy Corbyn (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
(Getty)

“[The] Labour party is to send out directives to all CLPs to this effect.”

Labour MP Stella Creasy was barraged with abuse earlier this month when she spoke out in favour of transgender equality.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Stella Creasy MP speaks to delegates on the last day of the Labour party conference on September 28, 2016 in Liverpool, England. On the last day of the annual Labour party conference leader Jeremy Corbyn will deliver his keynote speech to delegates and rally members with a call for unity in preparation for a possible snap election next year. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Stella Creasy (Getty)

Labour’s Sophie Cook came within just a few thousand votes of becoming the country’s first transgender MP during the 2017 election.

Cook was the Labour candidate for the Shoreham and Worthing seat, a Conservative stronghold for over 20 years.

She has spoken about the abuse she expected to get as a trans person campaigning for the seat, and the positive reaction she was actually met with.

Cook said the campaign marked a turning point in people’s acceptance of her and her gender identity.

More: all-women shortlists, gender, Labour party, Politics, sophie cook, stella creasy, Trans, Transgender, UK, Women

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