Lobby group Labour for Trans Rights has called on leader Keir Starmer to urgently mend the party’s relationship with the trans community, before it’s too late.
On Monday (12 December), Labour for Trans Rights published an open letter to Starmer, which was co-signed by Young Labour, Labour Students, LGBT+ Socialists, the LGBTQ+ section of the UK’s largest union UNISON, as well as activist groups TransLucent, Reclaim Pride Liverpool and United We Stand – Solidarity Network.
Labour for Trans Rights said it first wrote to Starmer on 1 November, following his interview with Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts, in which the Labour leader said he opposed teenagers making decisions about their own healthcare, used anti-trans dogwhistles when discussing trans inclusion in sport, and even appeared to support blocking trans people from gendered spaces under the Equality Act 2010.
The group said it had asked to meet with Starmer following the interview and was “disappointed not to have received a response”.
“LGBTQ+ members and voters have a number of serious concerns around the party’s approach to trans issues, and as we mentioned in our original letter, your Mumsnet interview has unfortunately put Labour’s relationship with the LGBTQ+ community under further strain,” the letter continued.
“We’d like nothing more than for you to have an opportunity to clarify some of the concerns raised, and assuage the concerns of trans and LGBTQ+ people… Transphobia, like any kind of prejudice, should not be welcome in the Labour Party.
“We urge you to listen to the trans community in this moment, and to mend the party’s relationship with them before it’s irreversibly fractured.”
Labour for Trans Rights noted that the current Conservative government “represents the greatest threat to us since the days of Section 28”, and said that the trans community needs to “be able to trust that Labour would be an ally in the project to build a progressive Britain”.
“We need a Labour Party that rejects bigotry, and holds members accountable for transphobic behaviour,” the letter went on to say.
“We need a Labour Party that embraces acceptance and tolerance. There can be no delay when our lives are on the line, and the people we love are under attack.”
Labour for Trans Rights is launching a campaign to demand that the Labour Party adopts a definition of transphobia, commits to defending Equality Act provisions for the trans community, clearly supports the principle of self-identification, and establishes a trans equalities minister role.
Labour for Trans Rights co-chair Alexis Chilvers said: “For months the Tory government and right-wing press have whipped up hatred against trans people. As the party that repealed Section 28 and introduced the Equalities Act, Labour should be opposing this agenda of hate and standing up for trans rights.
“Instead, the Labour leadership has consistently failed to stand up for trans rights, from endorsing transphobic talking points to failing to take action against an MP who denies the existence of trans women.
“Tragically, this has strained the party’s relationship with the LGBTQ+ community. After private overtures were unsuccessful, we are now going public with our concerns: Labour’s leadership needs to get serious about tackling transphobia and standing up for trans rights.”
PinkNews has contacted Keir Starmer’s office for comment.