UK

Labour leader Keir Starmer emphatically says ‘trans women are women’ and that ‘is the law’

Josh Milton March 12, 2022
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Labour Party leader Keir Starmer speaks to the media

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

British Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has once again stressed that “trans women are women” as he called for a more “respectful” debate.

Stressing that the Gender Recognition Act, the benchmark of gender recognition law in Britain, needs reforming, Starmer reminded Britain that trans women being women is literally the law.

“A woman is a female adult,” the former public prosecutor and human rights lawyer told The Times in an interview published Saturday (12 March), “and, in addition to that, trans women are women.

“And that is not just my view, that is actually the law.

“It has actually been the law through the combined effects of the 2004 [Gender Recognition] Act and the 2010 [Equality] Act.”

“The process that people have to go through does need to be looked at,” he said of the GRA, which Conservative Party ministers did look into reforming before shelving them altogether.

Instead of “streamlining and de-medicalising” the GRA, as then-prime minister Theresa May promised in 2017, the government opted to digitise the process and cut the £140 fee down to £5.

“If you talk to anybody who’s been through the process,” Starmer added, “there’s a real issue about respect and dignity.”

Indeed, the process of changing someone’s legal sex in Britain is one riddled with hardship, something which Starmer has called for “progress” in tweaking.

To acquire a Gender Recognition Certificate, a trans person must apply to a panel of cis people that they have and never will meet, who effectively judge their gender identity based on bank statements and photo ID cards.

A medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria is also required as well as the demand that trans people have lived in their “acquired gender” for a minimum of two years.

This has been the way for nearly two decades.

GRA reformers wanted to scrap this invasive and lengthy process altogether, moving towards a self-declaration system adopted by many other countries.

Instead, however, Boris Johnson’s administration binned most of the changes altogether, despite the results of a public consultation being overwhelmingly in favour of reforms.

The Women and Equalities Committee found that the Tory government failed in its responsibilities with its handling of the GRA reforms, and recommended that meaningful reforms be rolled out by 2023.

Starmer was asked about trans rights, not only because British media is obsessed with the rights of a vulnerable, marginalised minority, but because his fellow Labour frontbenchers have shared their thoughts on it in recent days.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper declined to wade into the “debate” in an interview with Times Radio.

“I think people get themselves down rabbit holes on this one,” she explained.

“I think let’s just celebrate International Women’s Day and amazing women all over the country, amazing women all over the world, but also challenge inequalities and say what it is we need to be doing for the future.”

Anneliese Dodds, the shadow women and equalities minister, said the definition of womanhood “depends on what the context is” as she discussed Labour’s position on updating the GRA.

JK Rowling, the Harry Potter author who has in recent years become increasingly outspoken about trans rights, suggested that the Labour Party are seeking to erase cis women.

Responding to a tweet from the Labour Party about International Women’s Day, and as the hashtag Trans Women Are Women trended online, Rowling said: “Apparently, under a Labour government, today will become We Who Must Not Be Named Day.”

It comes as the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights organisation that stretches 47 member states, named Britain alongside Hungary, Poland, the Russian Federation, Turkey as launching “virulent attacks” against LGBT+ people.

But American pop singer Tinashe captured the backlash Rowling faced pretty succinctly: “Oh my god, SHUT UP.”

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