This feels a bit like the silly season, all the political parties are trying to set out their positions in relation to Trans rights as it conference time. It seems to be quite hard for any party to get everyone to sing from the same hymn sheet.
The Liberal Democrats went first and by their Leader, Ed Davey, made a very clear statement that Trans rights are human rights. No problem there really except they are very unlikely to have any power.
Next came Labour. Now this really is not that simple, the party want to please all possible outcomes. The Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer made a statement saying that the Labour position had not changed from their 2019 manifesto and that they supported the Equality Act and the provision of single sex spaces. Basically that is fine. It was meant to imply, so Sir Keir says, that the Equality Act already provides for single sex spaces by providing exceptions and that is what he is supporting. However, Rose Duffield, one of his MPs who felt unable to attend the conference because she suggested it would not be safe for her to do so for fear of reprisals takes the view that “only women have a cervix” and is carrying the banner for the exclusion of trans woman from single sex spaces. Interestingly, she also did not want attend as she did not want to be the centre of attraction which of course she was by making a point of not attending. Emily Thornbury promptly responded to a question to say that “only women have a cervix” is just wrong.
Sir Keir did not clarify his position and rebut that proposal and confirming that the Equality Act already contains sufficient provisions by way of exemptions.
The Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner in her forthright manner simply said that Women’s rights are not in conflict with trans rights and that our fight is your fight. She went on to point out how the present Government was running a campaign of hate and that Ministers were looking at vulnerable people, that they are looking at the trans community and they see it as an opportunity to divide people”. The Labour LGBT+ group and official affiliate of the party has taken a public stance against the views of Rose Duffield and voiced support for the inclusion of trans women in all women spaces, saying “we will stand with our trans siblings”.
The Green Party although not having a conference have been electing a new leader and have elected joint leaders who support the trans community. One of the candidates for the leadership, who lost, has proposed that it should not be possible for anybody to join the party without the signing up to the view that women’s spaces should be single sex spaces. It is thought that proposal is unlikely to be carried.
Then we have the Government. The Conservative Party conference. At the conference they allowed the transphobic group, LGB Alliance to have a stand. That says it all really and at the moment there do not seem to be any MPs willing to put their head above the parapet and make a clear statement in support of trans rights. The conference has not yet concluded but with the Equality Ministers being opposed to changes in legislation and in regular contact with LGB Alliance and being critical of and misrepresenting the Stonewall policies I am not expecting any supportive statements from them.