Shropshire Star

Starmer says transgender issues need to be handled with ‘respect and dignity’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said ‘as a country, we’re a pretty reasonable and tolerant bunch’.

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Sir Keir Starmer visit to Selby

Sir Keir Starmer said his views on gender issues “start with biology” as he backed blocking trans women from female-only hospital wards and prisons.

The Labour leader was speaking as the Government proposed changes to England’s NHS constitution to give patients the right to request to be treated on single-sex wards, with transgender people placed in rooms on their own.

Sir Keir told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “There’s a distinction between sex and gender. The Labour Party has championed women’s rights for a very long time.”

LGB Alliance annual conference 2021
Sir Keir was pressed on whether he would apologise to Rosie Duffield (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The Labour leader has repeatedly faced questions about his views on transgender issues.

He has previously said that “99.9% of women” do not have a penis and in 2021 he said it was “not right” for Labour MP Rosie Duffield to state that “only women have a cervix”.

But asked about his response to Ms Duffield, Sir Keir said: “Biologically, she of course is right about that.”

Asked if he would apologise to the Canterbury MP, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “I don’t want this to go back into this toxic place where everybody is divided.”

But he said: “Rosie Duffield and I get on very well, we discuss a number of issues.

“She’s a much-respected member of the Parliamentary Labour Party and I want to have a discussion with her and anybody else about how we go forward in a positive way.”

Asked how Labour would respond to transgender women who did not want to go on to male hospital wards, Sir Keir said: “We have to accommodate that situation as it arises, but treat everybody with respect and dignity… I do not accept this is an issue that cannot be resolved with respect and dignity.”

He added: “Where we need to make accommodations, we can make accommodations… As a country, we’re a pretty reasonable, tolerant bunch and most people know that there are a small number of individuals who do not identify with the gender that they were born into.

“Many of them suffer great distress and trauma. And for my part, I’m perfectly happy to say I would treat them, as I would treat anybody, with respect.”

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