NEC nominations and trans rights

Updated 13 November: the results of the NEC elections have been announced. Candidates in bold were elected. Most have spoken up for trans rights or against transphobia.

Labour Party members voted for National Executive Committee CLP representatives. Every eligible member could vote for nine CLP reps and one treasurer. What are the candidates’ positions on trans rights? The Labour Party LGBT Network asked a long list of questions, mainly about trans rights. Most candidates have spoken or written in favour of trans rights, or against transphobia. The ballot closed at noon on 12th November, and the results were announced the following day.

Katherine Foy is a trans woman. I voted for her. We need strong LGBT+ representation on the NEC. Kira Lewis, a trans woman, stood for youth representative, with the support of USDAW and UNISON.

The LGBT Labour Party Network asked all candidates, “Do you accept that trans women are women, trans men are men, and non-binary people are non-binary – and will you commit to respecting trans people as their self-declared gender – if so, how will you integrate this approach to tackle the culture of entrenched transphobia, from the grassroots membership up to the leadership?”

Most of the slate of the Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance was elected:

  • In an email, Mish Rahman wrote, “I will stand in solidarity with the entire LGBTQ community in proudly demanding their rights, including trans rights. Labour must continue its support for reforming the Gender Recognition Act and stand up to the Tories’ attempts to fuel prejudice against the trans community.”
  • Nadia Jama answered the LGBT questions, “We must challenge discrimination… including… transphobia”, but considering the emphasis the questions gave to trans rights, this may seem not much.
  • Gemma Bolton, as a member of Labour South East Regional Executive, signed this statement: “We stand in solidarity with the transgender community… trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid… trans rights are human rights… trans inclusive language is necessary…denying a person recognition for their self-declared gender, including being of no gender, was abusive, oppressive and discriminatory.”
  • Laura Pidcock wants to enforce “single-sex” spaces.
  • Yasmin Dar was endorsed by the Labour Transphobes’ Declaration.
  • Ann Henderson, not elected, tweeted details of a WPUK meeting. WPUK is a transphobic hate group.

These six candidates made a collective statement, including this: “We must challenge discrimination and prejudice wherever it occurs, including tackling sexism, sexual harassment, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and ableism.” That statement opposes racism in particular detail.

On Facebook, Luke Akehurst wrote, “I stand in solidarity with our trans and non-binary comrades in the Labour Party and I’m proud that the slates/organisations I am involved in backed trans candidates for CLP Rep in 2018 and Youth rep this time. The party needs to adopt a definition of transphobia… I hate the idea of anyone having their identity or sense of who they are questioned within the party.”

Ann Black answered the LGBT Labour Party Network, “Yes, I would seek more information on the extent of transphobia at every level of the party, and also the degree of intersectionality with homophobia, misogyny, ageism, ableism, racism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, classism and all other forms of prejudice and discrimination.  I believe all these must be addressed, and would want to look at how far this is best done separately and how far they share common problems and might benefit from common approaches.”

The other candidates elected were Johanna Baxter and Gurinder Singh Josan. I could find nothing on their position on trans rights.

Treasurer.

Diana Holland was elected. She made this tweet for the Transgender Day of Remembrance. She was nominated for the 2017 LGBT awards.

When Nic Shall and Esther Betts complained about a transphobe at the University of Bristol, candidate Esther Giles signed a letter supporting the transphobe. Warning- extreme transphobia. She refused to engage with the LGBT questions, instead saying that complaints should be time limited and that she opposes “witch hunts”. There are no witch hunts. Giles is repeatedly, publicly transphobic- signing a Sunday Times letter from the transphobic organisation FPFW, a long screed to Jeremy Corbyn drafted by WPUK, a blog post addressed to women’s groups- she is a go-to signatory for any transphobe rubbish.

Reg Cotterill answered the questions fully and supportively. Vincent Lo’s answers are ridiculous, such that someone reading them might not think him a serious candidate. There were five other candidates.

Disabled people’s rep:

Ellen Morrison tweeted, “It’s completely unacceptable for Labour politicians to support transphobia without repercussions. We must commit ourselves to challenging anti-trans hatred and stand in solidarity with transgender people everywhere.

Kevin Watts gave a brief answer: “Good morning, as I am LGBT, as a gay disabled activist I agree with all your points. I will not only be a voice for disabled members/people but for the whole of the LGBTQ community as well.I hope that has answered your questions.”

Youth rep:

Lara McNeill was elected. She has signed the Labour campaign for trans rights and tweeted that.

Welsh Rep:

Carwyn Jones, the former First Minister was elected. He is an LGBT ally.

Councillors’ Reps:

Alice Perry: here are her blogs on trans rights.

Nick Forbes is a “politician who happens to be gay“. I could find no particular reference to his attitudes on trans rights.

The other candidates for the CLP section were mostly in favour of trans rights.

John Wiseman says in his statement, “We need to deliver for the young and old, if your trans, disabled, BAEM, or from any other background, this should be the party for you.”

No other candidates mention trans in their statements. Several mention LGBT+: Alex Beverley is “co-chair of LGBT+ Labour South West and LGBT+ Rep on the REC.” Michael Payne says he will “work relentlessly for greater representation of women, BAME, disabled and LGBT+ members at all levels of politics.” Chaudry Qamer Iqbal will “Be a voice for LGBTQ+ rights.” Stephanie Shuttleworth says “We must demand policies, local governments and a PLP which protects and empowers LGBTQ+ communities, BAME people, women, people with disabilities, the young, the elderly, renters, shielders, those in precarious employment and the unemployed.” Julian Vaughan wants to “Increase quotas on the NEC for BAME/LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities.”

Initially the Labour Transphobes’ Declaration endorsed Steph Shuttleworth, but she dissociated herself, saying “trans women are women”.

None of these have yet responded to the LGBT Labour Party Network.

Google tells me Ekua Bayunu tweeted, “We recognise that trans and non-binary identities are valid, exist and commit to helping to improve understanding of trans and non-binary people in the party.” I can’t find the tweet.

Matthew Blakemore answered, “Yes I do absolutely accept that trans women are women, trans men are men, and non-binary people are non-binary. It should go without saying that I commit to respect trans people as their self declared gender – I don’t think anyone who won’t commit to that should be a candidate for the NEC. I was dismayed by the recent comments made by Labour MP Rosie Duffield. I would like to see the leadership of our party encouraging Rosie to speak to the LGBT+ network and learn about why what she said was so offensive. I personally think an effective way to truly tackle transphobia is to give the LGBTIQA+ community more of a voice in the party, and to handle complaints of transphobia in the same manner as those of anti-semtism. Transphobia has no place in the open, progressive Labour Party I hope we can build together.”

This tweet from Fiona Dent is supportive. She answered the LGBT Labour Party Network question, “Yes and I have politely rejected approaches from what I believe to be a transphobic group by asking questions which were not answered.”

Former MEP Theresa Griffin blogged this, which is supportive. She answered the question, “Yes. I believe in self-identification. Need for a detailed programme of political education at all levels of the Party.”

Jermain Jackman answered the question: “Yes, Yes and Yes! In my first NEC meeting I will raise the concerns of many of our trans siblings by the worrying level of transphobia in our movement. I will ensure that we have a zero tolerance approach to transphobia and a work towards creating a robust complaints process that is fit-for-purpose so many of our LGBT+ friends and comrades can trust that their complaints will be handled and dealt with, this also includes taking serious action against elected representatives who are found to like, share or say anything transphobic online or offline.”

Mick Johnson answered that she would “use the position to help LGBT+ Labour and other groups organise against transphobic policies,” though she says of the Labour transphobes’ declaration “they don’t seem to have that much support and raising their profile by confronting them in a high profile way might not be the best way of dealing with them.” It’s a nuanced response. All the responses are worth reading, for an idea where the candidates are coming from.

Steve Maggs answered, “Yes, it’s really important to me that all people are free to be themselves and are protected in doing so. The second part of the question is clearly big topic to deal with and there are no easy fixes unfortunately. We need a clear and public commitment from the Party to lead on this and the Party rules must include guidance and disciplinary rules to support this. Education is key but the leadership and officers at CLP and regional level have a responsibility to ensure their LGBT+ comrades voices are heard and rights fought for.” The Steve Maggs I found who tweeted delight at Missy’s transition is not the Steve Maggs standing for the NEC.

Michael Payne tweeted, “As a candidate for @UKLabour’s NEC I stand firmly in solidarity with and as an ally of our trans siblings. Trans rights are human rights. Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Non-binary identities are valid. Trans people have a right to self-identification.” He is the chair of the LGBT+ Labour Councillors’ network.

Julie Reid tweeted, “the Trans community are less than 1% of the population. Bigotry is bigotry. #aws should include all women”.

Paula Sherriff condemned Tory transphobia in a tweet.

Joseph Wheatley answered, “Yes. I will listen and work proactively with Labour LGBTIQA+ members to discuss this issue, hear their thoughts on the solutions and develop an action plan accordingly. As a starter for 10 I would propose developing our internal policies to more clearly outline support for our trans and non-binary members. I would propose developing awareness and training programmes that could be delivered across all Labour Party CLPs.”

I found this homophobic Christian blog, with a long series of challenges in the comments from Carol Taylor-Spedding.

I could find nothing relevant on Bodrul Amin, Vince Maple, Mark McDonald, Cameron Mitchell, Zahida Abbas Noori, Terry Paul, Alec Price, or Shama Tatler.

Dave Anderson would not answer the Labour Party LGBT Network questions directly, but he wrote of what he had done to promote LGBT rights. He wrote, “we need to work together to do that and not draw lines behind which separate us into factions.” That may mean he does not want to speak out against clear transphobia. The Labour transphobes’ declaration endorsed him, and Iram Woolley.

Liz McInnes tweeted disagreement with Owen Jones’ pro-trans article.

Roger Silverman answered, “I have always held the view that everyone has the right to live theirlives however they like, and to identify themselves however theychoose, provided that they don’t impinge in any way on the rights ofothers. That means that I fully support the rights of LGBT people andtransexuals and am opposed to any discrimination against them.” He did not answer the questions in depth, and so does not appear as committed as those who did. Perhaps that is why the Labour transphobes’ declaration endorsed him: they could not otherwise find seven CLP candidates.

Neeraj Patil answered, “With regard to LGBTQ+, my Hindu understanding which is based upon ancient principles is that there are two types of person, the first is where spirit and body are aligned in gender identity and the second where they are not. As Spirit in body, they are deemed to be equally divine and to be treated as such.” However the Labour transphobes’ declaration endorsed him. They don’t publish their signatories on their website- that is, they know signing is objectionable, and they are too scared.

As a trans woman, I will not be making my decision who to vote for based solely on trans rights, but with transphobia endemic in the Labour Party I hope every member would consider NEC members should not be transphobic. If you have other details on the candidates’ views on trans rights, please share links.

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