It has been a trying week for the Labour Party. The leadership contenders are falling over each other in an astonishing bid to make themselves equally unelectable by a membership who are becoming exasperated with what many now view as transgender nonsense. I say that as a trans woman who is a member of the Labour Party.
Have they not learned from Jo Swinson? In December, the former Lib Dem leader’s election campaign went up in smoke on the altar of transgender ideology. Her inability to define the word “woman” is a masterclass in how not to do live radio.
Now Labour is repeating her mistakes. Events moved rather quickly. On Monday, the self-styled Labour Campaign for Trans Rights launched an appalling campaign that condemned Woman’s Place UK and the LGB Alliance as transphobic hate groups, and called for their supporters to be expelled from the party. Strong language indeed. But when the trans flag was raised, the leadership contenders came running. Now, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Angela Rayner have all signed the pledge.
However, it was back in the radio studio that Nandy stumbled on the fundamental problem with transgender ideology. She announced that “if you start from the position — as I do — that trans women are women, then…”
Unfortunately for Nandy, she floundered like Swinson before her. Transgender ideology is indeed transgender nonsense. I believe trans women are male, and women are female; male people are not female people and therefore trans women are not women. I say that as a trans woman.
But talking about it has become a statement of faith — dogma even — and it is central to both pledges. All four contenders are up to their necks in this, and by perpetuating untruths they let down three vulnerable groups. Women and children are the obvious victims. If any man can identify as a woman — for reasons known only to himself — women’s boundaries become meaningless.
Meanwhile children, some who are young enough to believe in the tooth fairy, are being told they can choose their sex long before they can understand the consequences.
Trans people also suffer. While waiting lists for specialist gender services have ballooned to more than two years, and mental health service remain chronically underfunded, campaigners have become obsessed with rhetoric and possible reform of the Gender Recognition Act. Words are cheaper than actions, and a tempting diversion to politicians with an eye on the cost.
After this week’s events, I’m unimpressed with all four candidates. I want them to cut out the dogma and focus on practical ways to improve services for transgender people. If they went into radio studios with that message, they might get my vote.
Debbie Hayton is a teacher and campaigner on transgender issues
* This article was first published by The Evening Standard on 14 February 2020: As a trans Labour party supporter I’m exasperated
4 replies on “As a trans Labour party supporter I’m exasperated”
Always thoughtful and sensible articles, Debbie. They’re so appreciated. I despair at the total collapse of rational thinking in Labour, SNP, LDs and Greens. Speaks to how much money is behind this blatant denial of reality. I fear where the path is leading. The destruction of children and young people’s boundaries seems to be uppermost while denying women’s safety and rights is the cover for it. Shut women up thus rendering them unable to stop harm coming to children.
More power to you and your bravery in staying strong in the face of this onslaught.
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What “Onslaught”. 3400 people signed the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights pledge. Journalists like drama, cos drama means clicks, so focus on this, but all three (not four) leadership candidates say they want to move on, and want dialogue even with WPUK. Debbie Hayton exaggerates the views of the side she opposes- LCTR does not demand expulsion of all supporters of WPUK, though many of them indulge in repetitive transphobic actions, and as Lisa Nandy says each individual should be judged on their individual behaviour.
If Debbie wants this to be less of an issue for Labour she should stop writing about it. There are many more important issues for Labour and for the country: Traveller’s rights, under an onslaught from the Tories, for one.
Happy to disagree with you, Clare. But I would say that problems will not disappear if I stop writing about them, and LCTR did indeed define WPUK as transphobic and then called for transphobes to be expelled. I stand by my main conclusion: “I’m unimpressed with all four candidates. I want them to cut out the dogma and focus on practical ways to improve services for transgender people. If they went into radio studios with that message, they might get my vote.”
What four candidates?
And- can you distinguish between WPUK and its supporters? You are deliberately inflaming the situation, making transphobes think they are more condemned by all the MPs so bravely signing the LCTR pledges. Can you quote the bit about WPUK being transphobic? Here it is. “Organise and fight against transphobic organisations such as Woman’s Place UK, LGB Alliance and other trans-exclusionist hate groups.” And who should be excluded? “those who express bigoted, transphobic views.” Not all WPUK supporters. Do you see now?
Who gains from your anti-trans campaigning, do you think? How are such gains going?