Head of Britain’s equalities watchdog says she doesn’t know what ‘transphobe’ means
The head of Britain’s disgraced equalities watchdog, Kishwer Falkner, is facing fresh calls to resign after admitting she doesn’t know what the word “transphobe” means.
In a 14 February interview with Holyrood magazine, Falkner was asked directly if she is “a transphobe”.
“I don’t know what the meaning of that word is,” Falkner replied. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which Falkner heads, is responsible for promoting and upholding equality and human rights ideals and laws across England, Scotland and Wales.
Asked again about the word transphobe, which the interviewer said “gets bandied around a lot at the moment, though, doesn’t it?”, Falkner replied: “Too much… too much.”
The EHRC has been heavily criticised in the last few weeks, with every major LGBT+ charity in the UK adding its name to a call for the body to be downgraded that was “prompted by the EHRC’s recent, and significant, change in stance on the issue of trans rights”.
Stonewall and the Good Law Project, along with 20 other organisations, have submitted evidence to the UN showing that the EHRC is no longer “credible” or “fit for purpose”.
Amid this, Falkner not being able to define the word “transphobe” has sparked disbelief among LGBT advocates – and another wave of calls for her to resign.
Kishwer Falkner ‘cannot lead’ equalities watchdog, LGBT+ activists say
After Kishwer Falkner made the admission that she doesn’t know what the word “transphobe” means, she faced fresh calls from LGBT+ advocates to resign from her post – who also pointed out that there has never been an openly trans commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
Referencing Falkner’s comments about the word “transphobe”, Baroness Liz Barker, a Lib Dem who is LGBT+ spokesperson in the House of Lords, tweeted: “By your own admission you cannot lead the EHRC.”
— Liz Barker (@LizBarkerLords) February 15, 2022
A presenter for Trans Radio UK, also quoting Falkner’s comments, added: “THIS IS THE PERSON MEANT TO BE PROTECTING PEOPLE FROM TRANSPHOBIA!”
A researcher with the Trans Safety Network, a grassroots group that tracks anti-trans hate in the UK, said Falkner’s comments “should raise alarm bells”.
And as well this, @EHRCChair claiming that she doesn't know what the word transphobia means – a statement that should raise alarm bells even for those not already doubting the ability of @EHRC to protect trans equality.https://t.co/tKKyOJzENy
— 「Meryl Links」#UnsafeToBeMe (@minusplnp) February 14, 2022
The @EHRCChair doesn't get it at all does she? She comes across as complacent, self satisfied, rather smug, privileged & deeply patronising. No real empathy or worse still no insight. Stuck in a personal bubble of complacency. Rather shocking in fact!https://t.co/LjPfvABczK
— Labour Trans Equality (@LabourLte) February 14, 2022
These calls follow months of heavy criticism of the EHRC, which have seen Falkner and the rest of the commissioners told they should quit their posts over perceived institutional transphobia in the organisation.
It’s time for Baroness Falkner to resign, along with her fellow Commissioners, and for the EHRC to be reset on its proper focus for human rights for all. (7/7)
— Trans Actual (@TransActualUK) February 10, 2022
No better proof that Falkner is fundamentally unfit for this role than her trying to pretend she supports trans people with the phrase “the identity they feel strongly committed to”. She either hasn’t got a clue or is being wilfully malicious.
— Andrew James Carter (@Carter_AndrewJ) February 14, 2022
In my view @EHRCChair Kishwer Falkner and the rest of the @EHRC board should resign. It seems to me that their actions are inconsistent with the Equality Act 2010 and incompatible with the "A" status given to them by the @UN, a status that IMO urgently needs to be reviewed.
— Natacha On Strike🏳️⚧️ (@natachakennedy) February 2, 2022
Jesus Fucking Christ!!
We have read the accounts of whistleblowers and ex staff.
We have read the incandescent anti-trans bigotry of Kishwer Falkner.
— Joss Prior🌈 * Pleasant to a fault. * 🌈 (@joss_prior) February 11, 2022
According to Collins dictionary, a transphobe is “someone who fears or hates transgender people”.