Starmer’s slipperiness on trans is utterly inexcusable

The Labour leader refuses to understand why gender ideology is so dangerous.

Graham Linehan

Topics Identity Politics Politics

As the Telegraph noted this week, Keir Starmer’s pledge to remove ‘gender ideology’ from schools is hollow, as he doesn’t understand what the term means. This the Labour leader has in common with many comfortable, middle-class men who only read the Guardian and get their news from the BBC. These men – and I was once among them – refuse to believe stories from ‘unclean’ sources. Thus, many people in this country are as clueless as Starmer is on the subject, though they at least have the excuse that they aren’t about to run the sixth-largest economy in the world.

In the end, that’s no excuse either. It’s 2024 and it ought to be common knowledge by now that a few brave, despised women are fending off a vicious male sexual-rights movement that threatens them, their children, and the vulnerable. Lesbians are subjected to protests and sabotage when they put on female-exclusive events, and those events only happen if the organisers are vague enough about their intentions when hiring a venue. Women are expected to change clothes in the presence of fully intact transvestites and marked as bigots if they object. Young women are crowdfunding for double mastectomies in their thousands and turning up on Grindr to the bemusement and despair of the actual gay men who, up until the world went mad, were the only people who used it. Both parties – straight women and gay men – are victims of one of the cruellest lies that ever took hold over society – namely, that not only is it possible to change sex, but also that all your problems will disappear if you do. This lie is at the core of gender ideology.

Calling all this a ‘culture war’, as Starmer often does, is heartlessly minimising a crucial and complicated issue that, we must remind him, has already brought down three governments. Scotland’s Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon are now shackled for eternity into a chain gang with the fragrant ‘Isla Bryson’ (Adam Graham), a rapist they almost put into a women’s prison. Leo Vadrakar began his term by making history as Ireland’s first gay taoiseach but resigned in disgrace in March after trying to remove the word ‘mother’ from the Irish constitution. Canada’s Justin Trudeau has been doing the Wokey Cokey for eight years, resulting both in a dramatic drop in LGB acceptance and, in a recent by-election, the loss of a safe seat that his Liberal Party has held for 30 years.

In all cases (except perhaps Trudeau, who I believe has been compensating for his hilarious and repeated use of blackface by going along with every last woke whim), these politicians have been let down by their advisers in the same way that the BBC is letting down its viewers, and the Guardian its readers. Starmer’s advisers are not clarifying the gender issue for him. In fact, they are keeping it muddy and unclear. So when Starmer cluelessly praised Tony Blair and criticised Rosie Duffield for saying the same thing about men having a pee-pee and women having a doo-dah, Starmer seemed genuinely baffled when things kicked off.

Gender ideology is irrational, divisive, regressive, misleading, confusing, coercive and deceptive. It cannot bear any scrutiny or these qualities quickly become apparent. The main way it defends itself is by pretending it doesn’t exist. Activists have now taken to saying, in their usual, copy-and-pasted manner, ‘Trans people are not an ideology’. It is another straw man – no one said they were – but repeated by so many people, and the multiple Twitter accounts that they control, that the phrase achieves what Stephen Colbert once called ‘truthiness’. Such a powerful form of truthiness, in fact, that it led his former colleague, Jon Stewart, to destroy his legacy by promoting sex-change procedures for children on air. When told by former Arkansas attorney general Leslie Rutledge back in 2022 that it is a fact that puberty blockers create permanent changes in children, Stewart replied: ‘It’s not! It’s just not. Puberty blockers aren’t changing people permanently, they’re just not.’ When the scale of this medical scandal finally sinks into public consciousness, Stewart will rue those words.

When a man exposed himself to women and children in LA’s Wi Spa in 2021, the Guardian attempted multiple times to frame the incident as a hoax, set up to villainise ‘trans people’, even after the culprit was revealed to be a sex offender named Darren Merager. He had recently violated his parole and was wanted for six felony charges of indecent exposure related to a previous incident. The Guardian did not report these facts for several months. Those who only read the initial reporting may still be under the impression that the whole thing was an example of groundless transphobia and moral panic.

The state of ignorant bliss that Guardian readers exist in can only be maintained if the trans issue is not properly understood, and that’s where the BBC comes in. Or rather, does not come in, as the Beeb has spent the past six years pretending there’s no issue with men in women’s spaces and sports, or children being maimed and sterilised at an industrial speed and scale.

Gender ideology is invisible, and it is the water that Starmer swims in. He is a comfortable, middle-class man, and this is a condition that afflicts most of all the members of that class. (So many famous actors with trans kids! What are the chances!?) Starmer probably has a friend of a friend of a sister of a friend who allowed her niece to cut her breasts off and now can never, ever admit she made such a terrible decision for her child. As Helen Joyce, author of Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, has pointed out, a single person like this can poison a whole friendship network, and such people are always watchful for any digressions from the one true path. Comfortable, middle-class women are acutely aware of this precarious situation in a way that men are not. I suspect this leads many comfortable, middle-class men to say of the issue, as Hat Trick Productions boss Jimmy Mulville once said to me, ‘My wife says it’s not a problem’.

Starmer has had many years now of not having to address the gender issue. As he got on with thinking about important stuff like how to pay for, say, infrastructure, he continued to inhale toxins from a radical ideology spread by his comfortable, middle-class spads, a younger crowd who probably themselves have a friend who blew their minds when he started wearing black lipstick to the pub. They too have been programmed with the copy-and-pasted responses they’ve learned on Twitter: ‘Trans rights are human rights’ (meaningless); ‘You have a gender-neutral toilet in your house’ (stupid); ‘Trans people have existed throughout history’ (untrue); ‘Clownfish can change sex’ (irrelevant as humans cannot).

Google ‘Starmer cervix’ and watch that famous 2021 interview again. He doesn’t actually know why he thinks it’s ‘wrong’ to say that only women have a cervix. His advisers told him just that, and no more, because they don’t know either. Worse than that, Starmer does not understand the vulnerabilities of the working-class women who will be at the sharp end of his inattention, such as prisoners, rape victims, disabled women, nurses and artists.

Gender ideology destroys everything it touches. It has tarnished the reputations of the NHS, the Guardian, the BBC, numerous celebrities and the UK’s publishing and theatre industries. Will Starmer only snap out of his trance when someone close to him is affected? Believe me, even toolmaking isn’t safe.

Graham Linehan is a former TV comedy writer best known for sitcoms Father Ted, Black Books and The IT Crowd. Follow him on Substack.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Identity Politics Politics


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