The Labour Party has been accused of not having a clear stance on transgender issues by MP Rosie Duffield.
Duffield has expressed an array of anti-trans views, such as demanding a ban on those who self-identify as trans entering the likes of “DV refuges, women’s prisons, single-sex wards and school toilets.”
In September 2021, the MP for Canterbury wrote a Twitter thread on the topic and called trans women “male-bodied biological men”.
“I also have feminist and gender critical beliefs which mean that whilst I’ve always fully supported the rights of all trans people to live freely as they choose, I do not accept self-ID as a passport for male-bodied biological men to enter protected spaces for biological women,” Duffield wrote in one of the thread’s 10 tweets.
The MP’s stance has been heavily criticised by LGBTQ+ activists, with Duffield claiming that online threats and abuse are the reason for her not attending the party’s conference.
In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the 50-year-old said she and other female MPs are attempting to meet with Sir Keir Starmer to clarify Labour’s position on trans issues.
She said: “Lots of women have been asking to meet with Keir Starmer in groups or one-to-one about this issue and obviously he is incredibly busy, but it would be good to just clarify what our position is as a party and just to discuss how we go forward with this issue.
“He’s always positive about trying to organise a meeting, it just hasn’t happened yet. I think it is really necessary that we actually talk about this.”
In 2020, two of Duffield’s staffers (a lesbian and an ally to the community) quit the MP’s office because of her “overtly transphobic” views.
I also have feminist and gender critical beliefs which mean that whilst I've always fully supported the rights of all trans people to live freely as they choose, I do not accept self-ID as a passport for male-bodied biological men to enter protected spaces for biological women..
— Rosie Duffield MP 💙 (@RosieDuffield1) September 10, 2021
It has been reported that the Labour Party is investigating Duffield after she liked a tweet saying that trans people are mostly “heterosexuals cosplaying as the opposite sex”.
“Women have every right to voice their opinions,” Duffield continued on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “I have seen tweets by male colleagues that have been identical to mine about Labour policy for example, and the comments undermine and other women’s tweets are very different.”
She added: “This is a cross-party issue. All women in public life, anyone who puts their head above the parapet… just gets abuse for the way we look, what we say and it is really horrible and it always turns to violence when it’s women.
“We always get the violence, pictures of guns, pictures of mocked up nooses, that’s the kind of thing we get on social media.”
Speaking anonymously to the BBC, a senior Labour MP said the discourse around Duffield’s anti-trans views is “a stupid, pointless, manufactured row about rights”.
“Let’s talk about how every single trans person awaiting NHS treatment is having their rights to see a specialist in 18 weeks under the NHS constitution breached, for example, rather than whether Rosie Duffield thinks everyone should have their genitals and chromosomes checked to go to the toilet,” they said.
The Labour Party’s conference is taking place in Brighton from Saturday 25 to Wednesday 29 September.