Is Jo Stevens MP a transphobe? Possibly. She is the new shadow digital, culture, media and sport secretary. She refused to sign the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights pledges, and her explanation is dodgy.
The Labour Campaign for Trans Rights calls for the expulsion from the Party of “those who express bigoted, transphobic views”. Well, that’s in accord with the rule book, which says, No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is prejudicial… to the Party. The NEC and NCC … shall regard any incident which in their view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on … gender reassignment or identity … as conduct prejudicial to the Party.
Ms Stevens’ letter refusing to sign the pledges was shared on twitter. She claims to have been considering gender recognition reform since 2016. She has “listened to a very wide range of passionately held views about possible future reform”. She wishes to ensure the legislation is workable and will not have unintended consequences. She writes,
“My current view is that there is a case for reforming the Gender Recognition Act to create a simpler, less medicalised process but alongside that, there must also be protection of single-sex spaces. And in that regard, it has been extremely concerning to see and hear both transgender people and women who are vocal and visible in defence of sex-based rights and single-sex spaces being repeatedly targeted with abuse, threats and violence.
“…Everyone needs to understand that there are legitimate fears on each side of the debate that need to be recognised and respectful listening and discussion is essential…
“I will not be signing the unofficial ‘Labour Party Campaign for Trans Rights Pledge.’ It does not recognise the responsibilities I have outlined above and its language hinders rather than helps the case for reform of the Gender Recognition Act.
“I have fought for equality all my life and will continue to do so. I will continue to safeguard and progress women’s rights while also supporting advances in trans rights.”
Gender recognition reform, self-declaration, will not affect women’s rights at all. Stevens uses TERF language: “sex-based rights” means trans exclusion. The phrase involves the claim that trans women are men, so should not be in women’s spaces. “Single-sex spaces” for women generally admit trans women. It is perfectly lawful to exclude trans women from single-sex spaces if it is “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”. Everyone accepts the need for women’s spaces- changing rooms, loos, rape crisis centres, etc- so campaigners for “single-sex spaces” have the sole aim of excluding trans women.
Stevens writes, “There must also be protection of single-sex spaces”. The Tory government has expressly stated there would be no change to the law on excluding trans women from women’s spaces, in its consultation. Stevens is stating TERF fake “concerns” and repeating TERF propaganda.
I do not accept that TERFs have legitimate fears. If they had, they should state them, rather than monstering and dehumanising trans women by endless comparison to Karen White and Jessica Yaniv, etc. Nor do I think anyone should “listen respectfully” when LGB All Liars says (transphobia whited out) “Self-ID gives predators the green light”. The pledges recognise trans people’s concerns as reasonable.
If TERFs are “repeatedly targeted with abuse, threats and violence”, I condemn it. I know some. I even like them, but for their obsessive hatred of trans people. But they should still be expelled from the Labour Party for their “conduct prejudicial to the party”. Their bleated victimhood does not make them innocent. Stevens is muddying the waters here, seeking to punish all trans people for abuse by a few, and because of the way some trans women express themselves painting the victims as the oppressors.
Stevens is working against trans rights by giving encouragement to anti-trans campaigners. If she will do this publicly, she will do a great deal more behind closed doors. She should not be a member of the Labour Party, leave alone the shadow cabinet.
According to a TERF on Mumsnet, Marsha de Cordova, the new shadow women and equalities secretary, who is registered blind, wrote to her that “fighting for the rights of women means fighting for all women, including those women who may have been given another classification at birth”. That’s what Labour MPs should be saying about trans rights.