Starmer is as slippery as ever on the trans debate

He may have finally admitted that only women have cervixes, but that doesn’t mean he cares about women’s rights.

Fraser Myers

Fraser Myers
Deputy editor

Topics Identity Politics Politics UK

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Is Keir Starmer finally seeing sense on the trans issue? Speaking on Good Morning Britain yesterday, the UK Labour leader admitted that Rosie Duffield, the Labour MP for Canterbury and an outspoken gender-critical feminist, was ‘of course right’ to say that ‘only women have cervixes’.

On the surface, this seems like quite the turnaround. Back in 2021, Starmer infamously chastised Duffield for making the simple statement of biological fact that a man cannot have a cervix – referring to the canal between the uterus and the vagina, two other organs that men do not possess. He even decreed haughtily that this ‘is not something that should be said’. Yet now, we have Starmer saying that ‘biologically’, Duffield ‘of course is right’. In the space of three years, the Labour leader appears to have morphed from a trans-activist zealot who thinks that women can have penises and men can have cervixes into a reasonable respecter of biological reality. That’s progress, right?

Not so fast. As the GMB interview revealed, Starmer is as slippery as ever when it comes to the gender debate. When asked whether he should apologise to Duffield for his and his party’s treatment of her, he flat-out refused, saying he didn’t want to ‘go back to this toxic place where everybody is divided’. Of course, the reason most people give apologies is to smooth over old divides, not reopen them. Perhaps Starmer is not as ready to do that as he wants to let on. Most likely, he still sees Duffield, and other gender-critical feminists like her, as being on the ‘toxic’ side in this debate.

It gets worse. Starmer also claimed that he and Duffield ‘get on well’ and ‘discuss a number of issues’ together. This came as a bit of a shock to Duffield herself. After the interview, she quipped on X that their only form of communication must have been ‘telepathy’, as the Labour leader has apparently not spoken to her in more than two years. Nor has any Labour frontbencher ever approached her to discuss the gender issue – although, as she recently noted in the Daily Mail, some have ‘lied’ in public about having spoken to her ‘behind the scenes’. This lack of communication is not for want of trying on Duffield’s part. She says she has repeatedly tried in vain to raise concerns with senior Labour figures about everything from the threats and bullying she has faced from trans activists to the dangers self-ID poses to women to the medical scandal unfolding at the Tavistock gender clinic. But the response from Labour has been crickets.

Far from listening to Rosie Duffield and her concerns, Starmer and his Labour Party have thrown her to the trans-activist wolves. Starmer has never directly defended her against the onslaught of hatred she has received for her belief in biological sex. This abuse goes far beyond the kind of bitter disagreements, insults and trolling on social media that sadly now come with the territory of being a public figure. A man from Manchester pleaded guilty this week to sending her death threats. He sent her an audio message that said: ‘I’m going to kill Rosie Duffield with a big gun. I hate her so much.’

At times, Labour has actively taken part in the witch-hunting of Duffield. She has been subjected to two formal investigations by the party, following malicious complaints made by trans activists. Incredibly, her critics even tried to smear her as an anti-Semite, after she liked a tweet by gender-critical comedy writer Graham Linehan, which mocked wannabe Labour MP Eddie Izzard for his ludicrous and historically inaccurate claim that his crossdressing would have landed him in a Nazi extermination camp. It ought to have been clear from the off that these complaints were baseless. This was a transparent attempt to target Duffield for her views on trans. Yet Labour took the smears at face value and subjected Duffield to a disciplinary investigation. This alone should warrant an apology from Starmer.

The Labour leader may well claim he has now seen the light on the biological truth that only women can have cervixes. But this should not be taken to mean that his party can be relied upon to stand up for women’s rights or for children’s safety. As long as it sees gender-critical views as inherently ‘toxic’, it will keep finding itself on the wrong side of the debate.

Labour is especially confused when it comes to children who are struggling with their gender. Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting says Labour fully accepts the findings of the Cass Review into the NHS’s provision of gender-identity services. This includes the acknowledgement that there was never any medical evidence to justify giving puberty blockers to kids, and that extreme caution should be exercised in prescribing cross-sex hormones. It even states that ‘social transitioning’ – letting children change their names, pronouns and gender expression – could do more harm than good, by pushing youngsters on to a damaging medical pathway. It calls for ‘watchful waiting’ instead of immediate ‘gender affirmation’. Yet, even as Streeting claims to accept these findings, on the very day the Cass Review was published shadow equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds was pushing for a bill that would make many of its recommendations illegal. A ‘full, no-loopholes ban’ on trans conversion therapy, as Dodds describes it, could criminalise parents and therapists who don’t affirm a child in their chosen gender. It would treat a caring parent’s desire to help their child accept their body, rather than mutilate it, as an act of transphobic bigotry.

Starmer’s about-turn on ‘the cervix question’ shows that he knows just how toxic and unpopular the trans agenda is with voters. But his reluctance to back Rosie Duffield suggests that he is still far too wedded to this dangerous ideology. Whether he is running scared of his party’s trans activists, or he is personally, privately committed to this bizarre cause, we will probably never know. Either way, slippery Starmer simply cannot be trusted.

Fraser Myers is deputy editor at spiked and host of the spiked podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @FraserMyers.

Picture by: YouTube.

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Topics Identity Politics Politics UK


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