Exclusive: Labour approves policy to explicitly include self-identifying trans women in all women shortlists
The Labour Party has explicitly confirmed that trans women who self-identify are eligible for all women shortlists and women’s officer roles.
In March, a planned statement on the status of transgender people in the party was approved by the equalities subcommittee of the Labour Party’s decision-making body, the National Executive Committee.
It was also reported in March that the party had put off a National Executive Committee vote needed to explicitly confirm an official stance in support of trans women standing via all women shortlists until June, so that a consultation on the wording could take place.
However, on Tuesday the National Executive Committee confirmed a policy statement explicitly stating that all women shortlists, women’s officer roles and minimum quotas for women are all open to trans women who self-identify.
This statement reiterates existing party policy but also rebuffs recent attempts to have self-identifying transgender women banned from the shortlists.
The statement says: “Labour has a proud record of championing equality for women of all backgrounds, including BAME women, LGBT+ women, disabled women and working class women.
“The use of All Women Shortlists, women’s officers and minimum quotas for women is a key aspect of this.
“The Labour Party’s All Women Shortlists are open to all women, including self-identifying trans women.
“Similarly, women’s officers and minimum quotas for women in the Labour Party are open to all women, including self-identifying trans women.”
The statement continues: “The Labour Party is committed to upholding the principle of affirmative action for women.
“Anyone attempting to breach Labour Party rules and subvert the intention of All Women Shortlists, women’s officers or minimum quotas for women will be dealt with via our established safeguards, selection procedures and disciplinary measures.
“In adopting this approach, the Labour Party has verified that it is acting consistently with both the letter and spirit of the relevant legislation, the Equality Act 2010.”
The statement goes on to criticise any abuse or intimidation involved in the debate, some of which has prompted the party to suspend a number of anti-trans campaigners.
It states: “We recognise that there is a diversity of views on what can be a complex and emotive issue for many members, but discussions within the Labour Party should never take the form of abuse or intimidation of anyone.
“Labour’s Code of Conduct is clear on acceptable behaviour by party members. This standard of behaviour will be enforced.”
After a recent 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 Labour’s 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 “trans-identified males” are taking away women’s places in politics.
The National Executive Committee was expected to pass a statement on the issue in March, however it was later stated that any formal policy would only be confirmed in June, following the local elections.
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Tuesday’s statement follows the policy outlined in a leaked letter obtained by PinkNews from the Labour Party’s General Secretary, Jennie Formby, which confirmed the party supports the right of trans women to run for election via women-only shortlists.
In a pre-action protocol letter dated March 29, Formby confirms: “The Party’s position… is that its AWS are open to all women, including Trans women; and that Trans women do not need a GRC [Gender Recognition Certificate] to participate in an AWS.”
Justifying the policy, Formby adds: “The Party has a clear position to support reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 so it is in line with the principles of gender self-declaration.
“In Labour’s 2017 manifesto we also pledged to reform the Equality Act 2010 to ensure that this protects Trans people by changing the protected characteristic of ‘gender assignment’ to ‘gender identity’ and remove other outdated language such as ‘transsexual’.
“The Party has therefore chosen to give effect to these policies by allowing, in particular, the inclusive operation of AWS – so that those shortlists are open to all women – including self-identifying trans women.”
Tuesday’s statement also confirms that the Labour Party is committed to the potential reforms of the Gender Recognition Act and the Equality Act in order to fully include transgender people.