The febrile transgender debate tends to unite politicians only in their quest to obfuscate the truth. But at last we have a prime minister who is willing to be honest with the public. It’s not Boris Johnson — not yet, anyway — but Scott Morrison who has thrown caution to the wind. The Australian PM has declared that trans sheilas are not sheilas. Not in sport, anyway.
Are we reversing out of the scientific enlightenment? The frenzied scenes from Sussex University this week suggest that we might be. This should worry everyone. When a professor of philosophy is hounded by a mob for supposedly having the wrong opinions, the age of reason is in danger.
Andrew Marr’s question was simple and straightforward, ‘[Is] someone who thinks that only women have a cervix welcome in the Labour party?’ As a party member who still clings to science and reason, I willed Keir Starmer to give a simple and straightforward answer. Instead, he blustered:
Well, Andrew, we need to have a mature, respectful debate about trans rights and we need to, I think, bear in mind that the trans community are amongst the most marginalised and abused communities.Keir Starmer
News that Rosie Duffield will be missing the Labour Party conference over threats to her personal security brings to a head an appalling situation where a female Labour MP cannot stand up for the rights of women without triggering opprobrium. Keir Starmer cannot and must not sit on the fence any longer. Maybe he is trying to sit tight and hope that this goes away? This seems unlikely: Duffield’s opponents are motivated by an evangelistic zeal to silence those who dare to disagree with them.
I grew up in 1980s County Durham; it felt at the time like a People’s Democratic Republic. When the miners went on strike in 1984, Labour held 53 of the 72 seats on the county council. But whatever impression southerners might get from watching Billy Elliot, boys like me did not engage in ballet. Labour may have been in charge, but attitudes were socially conservative. We played football and supported the Toon, or Newcastle United to give them their official name. Allegiance to Sunderland raised eyebrows — in my town at least — while Manchester United was beyond the pale.
Jess Phillips thinks that transwomen — like me — are not female, but we should be treated as women. She has probably succeeded in upsetting both sides of what has become a toxic debate. Politicians entering these shark-infested waters do so at their own peril. If, like Rosie Duffield or Joanna Cherry, they stand up for science and reason, they put their careers at risk. If they go with the programme that we all have a gender identity, and biological sex doesn’t matter, they end up looking ridiculous, like the ‘jiggle on the stairs’ crew.
Tonia Antoniazzi’s speech in the House of Commons this week was remarkable, not because of what she said – the need for accurate recording of crimes according to sex – but because she had the courage to actually say it.
LGBT+ Labour might be a fringe group in the minds of traditional Labour voters but they have the power to extract a grovelling apology from Keir Starmer.
August is the traditional silly season, but the Labour party risks descending into a farce from which it might struggle to recover when real politics resumes in September. In the absence of any direction from the party leadership, the transgender thought police have led the party down a rabbit hole. Last week, Spectator readers may recall the appalling attack on Rosie Duffield MP for claiming – quite rightly – that ‘only women have a cervix’. Now, the madness has continued.
It’s summer but the war on women continues. The latest person to fall victim to the transgender thought police is Labour MP Rosie Duffield after she liked a tweet by Piers Morgan where he harrumphed CNN’s reference to ‘individuals with a cervix’. Duffield later angered her critics more by asking: ‘I’m a ‘transphobe’ for knowing that only women have a cervix….?!’
Morgan is a man, of course, so he escaped censure. But Duffield was not so lucky. This modern witch hunt tends to target women, specifically those who have the audacity to reclaim the word ‘woman’ to describe their sex.