Politics

Tory frontrunner Penny Mordaunt makes crude, anti-trans ‘willy’ jibe at leadership launch

Patrick Kelleher July 13, 2022
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Penny Mordaunt attends the launch of her campaign to become the next leader of the Conservative party.

Penny Mordaunt attends the launch of her campaign to become the next leader of the Conservative party. (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty)

Penny Mordaunt has been condemned by LGBTQ+ rights activists after she made a crude, anti-trans “willy” jibe at the launch of her Tory leadership campaign.

Mordaunt, once seen as a rare LGBTQ+ ally within the parliamentary Conservative Party, has repeatedly hit out at trans rights since announcing her bid to become the party’s next leader.

At her campaign launch on Wednesday (13 July) in London, Mordaunt was asked about her stance on the “war on woke”.

“Well I think we should be talking about the cost of living, I think we should talk about healthcare,” Mordaunt said. “But let me deal with the issue that is floating in the background there.

“I think it was Margaret Thatcher that said that every prime minister needs a willy. A woman like me doesn’t have one.”

Later, Mordaunt was asked to define what a woman is by The Telegraph‘s Chris Hope.

“I’m a woman,” she replied. “I am biologically a woman, and I can tell you Chris that if you have been in the Royal Navy and you have competed physically against men, you understand the biological difference between men and women.”

LGBTQ+ activists ‘shocked’ by Penny Mordaunt’s anti-trans comments

Mordaunt’s comments have been greeted with shock and dismay from LGBTQ+ activists, many of whom expected her to champion trans rights in her leadership bid.

Jayne Ozanne, an anti-conversion therapy campaigner who has supported Mordaunt’s campaign for the Tory leadership, told PinkNews that she hopes to talk to Mordaunt personally about her comments.

Penny Mordaunt attends a service to recognise fifty years of continuous deterrent at sea at Westminster Abbey on May 3, 2019 in London.
Penny Mordaunt attends a service to recognise fifty years of continuous deterrent at sea at Westminster Abbey on May 3, 2019 in London. (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty)

“I’m truly shocked in the way that trans people are being used as a political football in this leadership race,” Ozanne said.

“They deserve understanding, respect and protection. What’s even more perplexing is the fact that research shows this is just not an issue amongst Tory voters.”

She continued: “I am looking forward to talking personally with Penny to understand why she has chosen to say what she has, which will naturally have caused deep concern amongst the LGBT+ community.

“That said I would still far rather have Penny as a leader than any of the other candidates, as I believe that she does at least have a record on LGBT+ matters.”

Meanwhile, members of LGBT+ Conservatives – the party’s national organisation for LGBTQ+ members – have told PinkNews that they are “in despair” as leadership candidates continue to make inflammatory remarks about trans rights.

Mordaunt and other Tories are using trans people as a ‘political football’

There was widespread backlash on social media to Mordaunt’s comments, with many expressing concern for the future of LGBTQ+ rights.

Mordaunt’s latest comments come just days after she first spoke out against what she called the “trans orthodoxy” in a lengthy Twitter thread in which she sought to answer the question: “Do I know what a woman is?”

During an appearance on LBC on Tuesday (12 July), Mordaunt said she never supported plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). The equalities office ran a public consultation on reform when Mordaunt served as equalities minister under Theresa May.

Speaking on LBC, Mordaunt said she “never supported self-ID”, saying that she “disagreed” with the “clamour” to separate the gender recognition process “out from healthcare” during her time in the equalities office.

Penny Mordaunt leaves 10 Downing Street after the weekly Cabinet meeting on 11 June, 2019.
Penny Mordaunt leaves 10 Downing Street after the weekly Cabinet meeting on 11 June, 2019. (WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty)

After Mordaunt shared her Twitter thread, LGBTQ+ rights activist Lisa Power told PinkNews that she was “surprised and disappointed” by Mordaunt’s U-turn on trans rights.

She suggested that Mordaunt and other leadership hopefuls are attacking trans rights to distract from their party’s “atrociously poor” track record in government.

Notably, Mordaunt’s comments about trans women have failed to curry favour among “gender critical” feminists.

Fair Play For Women, an organisation that campaigns against trans inclusion, tweeted: “Saying you never supported self-ID is nonsense. What fools do you take us for?”

 

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