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Labour activists demand Rosie Duffield have party whip withdrawn amid bitter transphobia row

Vic Parsons October 5, 2020
Trade union for MP staff calls for Labour to investigate Rosie Duffield

The trade union for MP's staff has asked Labour to investigate Rosie Duffield's behaviour towards ex-staff. (Facebook/Rosie Duffield)

Labour activists are calling for the whip to be withdrawn from Rosie Duffield after the MP liked a tweet referring to transgender people as “cross dressers” amid a months-long row about transphobia.

Duffield, 49, liked a tweet from anti-trans campaigner Maya Forstater that branded the Law Society’s guidance on transition and changing gender expression in professional settings as “celebrating cross dressers in the office”.

Forstater is known for unsuccessfully arguing, at an employment tribunal last year, that her anti-trans “gender critical” beliefs should be protected under the Equality Act 2010. Throwing out her case, the judge said that Forstater’s views on trans issues are “not worthy of respect in a democratic society“.

LGBT+ Labour Scotland and several Momentum and student Labour groups are now calling for the whip to be withdrawn from Duffield, who’s been plagued by accusations that she is transphobic for the past two months.

“LGBT+ Labour Scotland calls for Rosie Duffield MP to have the whip withdrawn,” LGBT+ Labour Scotland tweeted. “Despite attempts to reach out and educate, she continues to like transphobic content on Twitter and mock those raising concerns. This is unacceptable behaviour from a Labour MP.”

Duffield, who is the chair of the women’s parliamentary Labour party group, now has “if you’re policing my ‘likes’ you *really* need a new hobby!” in her Twitter bio.

Multiple grassroots Labour accounts have joined calls for Labour to withdraw the whip.

On Twitter, Duffield said that “trans rights are human rights, women’s rights are sacred too” and said that the criticism she was receiving – in a thread with a tweet from LGBT+ Labour co-chair Heather Peto, who is a trans woman – was down to “stranger men I will never meet […] policing my ‘likes'”.

During the leadership race earlier this year, Keir Starmer signed LGBT+ Labour’s list of pledges, which include a commitment to introducing a “fully independent complaints process” for instances of transphobia within the Labour party.

He has yet to make a public comment about Duffield.

Rosie Duffield transphobia row.

At the start of August, Rosie Duffield insisted that “only women have a cervix” and doubled down on accusations of transphobia by labelling the backlash against her a “tedious Communist pile-on”.

Despite criticism from the LGBT+ community for excluding trans men and some non-binary people, Duffield, who was elected Labour’s first-ever Canterbury MP in 2017, spent the next 10 days liking anti-trans tweets.

She then issued an apology insisting that she had “always” supported trans rights and had been “hurt greatly” by the accusations of transphobia levelled against her.

But a cis lesbian, who was Duffield’s only LGBT+ staff member, resigned over the MP’s continued anti-trans statements – and hit back at Duffield’s claim to be a longtime LGBT+ ally.

Sophie* (name changed to protect her identity) told PinkNews that in the weeks after Duffield’s comments, there was a huge influx of “bigotry landing in [our] office” – several hundred more emails and letters each week than usual.

“The support Rosie got from this, and the bigots emboldened by this, is ongoing,” Sophie said. “It’s flabbergasting that a Labour MP should be OK with that – but she’s done nothing to say that she’s not.”

“I cannot put a price on my self-respect or my commitment to LGBT+ rights,” she wrote in her 14 August resignation letter to Rosie Duffield. “While I am in this role I am effectively a representative of you, and I cannot go out and bat for you having heard you say the things that you have, so I must resign.”

A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party is absolutely committed to advancing trans rights and we continue to support updating the GRA. Everyone should have the right to live with respect and dignity in an equal and inclusive society.”

Rosie Duffield declined to comment.

More: gender critical feminism, Labour, LGBT Labour, maya forstater, rosie duffield, trans rights

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