Labour’s shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler hosts anti-trans activists in private meeting
Labour’s shadow equalities minister hosted a string of anti-trans activists in parliament for an official meeting on ‘trans inclusion’, PinkNews has learned.
Dawn Butler, Labour’s lead MP on LGBT rights, met with activists opposed to transgender women being included on all women shortlists in an official capacity on Wednesday.
A list of invitees said to have attended, obtained by PinkNews, includes activists and party members who have been outspoken opponents of plans to reform gender recognition laws.
Among the attendees was Linda Bellos, who has said the proposed legal changes will leave “women’s spaces vulnerable to trans with beards and balls”.
No transgender people attended the ‘trans inclusion’ meeting, it is understood.
Jeremy Corbyn, who has been clear in his support for trans rights, did not attend the meeting, though it is not known if he was aware it was taking place or of who was invited.
In a statement to PinkNews Labour confirmed the meeting had taken place, but denied there would be any change to its policy around transgender women.
A spokesperson for the Labour Party told PinkNews: “All women shortlists are and always have been open to all women, which of course includes trans women.
“The NEC agreed that the Party would consult with stakeholders about the wording of a statement which clearly sets out and explains this policy.
“This consultation is ongoing and the statement will be brought to the NEC once the consultation has concluded.
“The Labour Party recognises the vital importance of self-declaration 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-declaration.
“If the Conservatives fail to do so, Labour will make it law once we’re in government.”
Labour is currently facing legal action from activists opposed to transgender women being allowed to participate in women’s reserved spaces.
After a surge in anti-trans rhetoric, a fringe group of women’s rights campaigners within the party led calls for transgender women to be banned from standing on women-only shortlists for parliament, which are used in a bid to boost the number of female MPs.
There has never been an openly trans MP, but vocal activists complain that women they refer to as “male-bodied transgenders” are taking away women’s places in politics.
A leaked copy of Labour’s proposed policy on trans women, expected to be adopted in May, explicitly affirms that “All Women Shortlists and women’s reserved places are open to self-defining women”.
It also warns that “transphobia and the abuse of members based on their trans identity will not be tolerated in the Labour Party”.
Asked about trans women’s rights on the Andrew Marr Show, Jeremy Corbyn said: “The position of the party is that where you have self-identified as a woman, then you are treated as a woman.”