Come on Keir, Let's Make our Trans Allyship Clear!

Labour’s problems with transphobia have become extremely well known, particularly since hundreds of party members took to social media to advertise it. These individuals’ transphobic beliefs have even encouraged a #ExpelMe campaign within the membership, consisting of them goading the party to suspend them for being anti-trans. We have even seen prominent members of the parliamentary Labour party engaging in undeniable and unapologetic transphobia. Within Labour there are numerous out and proud transphobes and the party leadership are well aware of this issue, with Rosie Duffield and Jess Phillips being some of the main culprits engaging in transphobia. The issue of transphobia and terfism within Labour has become so severe that even during the leadership campaign candidates were encouraged to sign a pledge to tackle these issues. However, our incumbent leader Keir Starmer was the only candidate to not sign this pledge.

Starmer has unequivocally been too relaxed on supporting trans rights. With his first months of leadership encouraging the party to “stand back” from the “debate” and to avoid being “dragged into it”. Most significantly after Liz Truss announced her plans to scrap GRA reform. This came as a shock with the GRA consolation reporting 70% in favour of the reform, according to leaks posted in The Sunday Times. This alongside other leaked plans which suggest a rolling back of the equality act protections for transgender people, and an attack on Gillick competency which protects 16-year old’s rights to consent to medical treatment, ultimately topped off with reluctance to ban conversion therapy including trans conversion therapy. Shows that on the issue of trans rights labour is severely lacking in opposing the Tories archaic and regressive decisions.

These are merely a few examples of ways Labour have failed our Trans members and Trans individuals across the UK alike. We see transphobes, and bigots so encouraged by the lack of consequences they have faced for their bigotry for so long that half of them don’t even try to pretend there’s anything wrong with it. Personally, I have seen Labour Women’s Officers and a variety of individuals in high-ranking CLP positions post transphobic conspiracy theories including stating trans people are paedophiles with no such swift action being taken against them. Time and time again ally’s report these individuals to the party and time and time again we see a lack of actions and complacency. This has to change.

Bigotry is on the rise and trans people are under widespread attack here in the United Kingdom. Not just by wider society anymore, but now also by a clearly biased media class and even multiple politicians within our Government and Opposition actively supporting transphobic campaigning. If Starmer’s Labour party remains deafeningly silent on the issue, only chiming up to say that they just don’t want to get involved. Then it has failed those who it should represent the most; marginalised groups.

Now more than ever is not the time for silence on matters of equality. Now is the time to stand up and fight.

Under Starmer’s Labour party we must aggressively tackle bigotry, or it will continue to lose us members who have lost faith in our values. Whether you think it was right or wrong, Rebecca Long-Bailey’s sacking proves that Starmer is able and willing to take action in order to restore the trust of people from marginalised groups. He just needs to stop being so selective with that power. Otherwise any statements or commitments he has to fighting any kind of bigotry just simply can’t be trusted. This action must start by punishing members of the parliamentary party who engage and advocate for transphobic views. Along with providing a new commitment to trans individuals inside and outside of the party.

We will not win an election while so disjointed, we must become a unified front and to do that we must tackle bigotry head on. This means all forms of bigotry; anything less is simply not good enough.

Megan Cole

7 Sept 2020

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Come on Keir, Let's Make our Trans Allyship Clear!

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