Jeremy Corbyn tees up transgender candidate row with Labour feminists
Jeremy Corbyn has teed up a huge row with Labour feminists by insisting transgender people who want to stand on all-women shortlists should be allowed to do so.
The Labour leader said a person who chooses to declare themselves a woman “should be respected” and that “self-identification is what it is”.
Labour feminists, such as campaigner and equality law specialist Linda Bellos, have argued men who chose to become women should not be allowed on all-women candidate shortlists.
They argue men enjoy enough privileges and should not be allowed to stand on a list aimed at promoting diversity by choosing to change their gender.
Some £20,000 has been raised to fund a legal challenge to the decision by the party to allow trans women onto all-women shortlists.
Mr Corbyn said he would like to talk to Ms Bellos about the issue but he reiterated the Labour position and suggested it would not be changed.
“Obviously I respect the view that she has but the position of the party is that self-identification is what it is,” he told the Andrew Marr show today.
“The position of the party is that where you have self-identified as a woman you are treated as a woman…
“These people have been through a big decision a big process a big trauma, let’s look at the human beings in front of us.”
He added: “My mind is that I look at the person in front of me. I see that that’s their identification that should be respected.”
Ms Bellos has welcomed the suggestion she could get into trouble with the Labour party over her campaign, saying: “I can't wait. Is this another white man going to shit on me in the Labour party[?]”
Jennifer James - a Labour feminist who has raised the cash for the legal challenge - said she was suspended by the party this week for saying “women don’t have dicks”.
Meanwhile, Cabinet Office minister David Lidington said a trans woman “should be treated as a woman”.
He told the same show: “I think somebody who is transgender or somebody who has not yet gone through transgender reassignment and feels that they were born into the wrong body, to use the phrase, deserves respect.
“We should respect everybody, we should respect people for who they are however they identify.”
He said the Tories were still consulting on the position of the law on the issue, but added: “I don’t, perhaps, spend time thinking about this. I try to deal with the person in front of me.”
Mr Lidington has voted against a number of gay rights measures in the past but today said he would now vote for civil partnerships after seeing how the change had affected "gay friends" of his.