Boris Johnson ‘calls trans women men’ and doubles down against trans athletes

Prime minister Boris Johnson has received criticism for saying women cannot be born with a penis, as he appeared to back a recent ban on trans women taking part in elite swimming.

Speaking to reporters at the Commonwealth summit in Kigali, Rwanda, Johnson said there were “difficult problems” when speaking about gender.

When asked by a reporter on Sunday (26 June) whether women can be born with a penis, he reportedly replied: “Not without being a man.”

The i reported Johnson as adding: “Look it’s very, very important that as a society we should be as understanding of everybody else as possible. I’ve always stood for that.

“When it comes to, when you start to move from issues of sexuality to issues of gender, you start to raise particular problems.

“I think I’ve spoken of three concerns I’ve had in the past. They are to do with the age at which you can deem it competent to transition, the question of safe spaces for women, and the difficulties you have with sporting competitions.

“These are all very difficult problems and you have to be very sensitive. But these are the areas.”

When asked if he backed the ban on trans women in women’s elite swimming announced on 19 June, Johnson said: “I haven’t studied it in detail but I see no reason to dissent. That follows from what I’ve previously said.”

While the swimming ban – which bans trans women who have “experienced male puberty” after the age of 12 from competing in women’s elite swimming – has proved unpopular among trans athletes, the UK’s digital, culture, media and sport secretary Nadine Dorries has urged other UK sports to follow suit.

Dorries said in an opinion piece for The Mail on Sunday that she will be meeting with Sport England and a panel of sporting leaders from football, cricket, rugby, tennis and more, and will urge them to follow the ruling.

Dorries said: “I have the greatest compassion for anyone who finds themselves living in a body they don’t recognise. But we can’t pretend that sex doesn’t matter – that’s a scientific fact.

“I’m setting a very clear line on this: competitive women’s sport must be reserved for people born of the female sex. Not someone who was born male, took puberty blockers or has suppressed testosterone, but unequivocally and unarguably someone who was born female.”

Since the swimming governing body FINA announced its revised trans eligibility policy, several national and international sporting administrators have followed.

The International Rugby LeagueFIFA and World Athletics, among others, have either temporarily banned or launched reviews into their trans inclusion policies.

Trans athlete and pro-LGBTQ+ advocate Chris Mosier told PinkNews: “When sports organisations make policies that exclude trans people, it creates a much more hostile world towards trans people – athletes and non-athletes alike.

“The constant narrative of trans people not belonging in certain spaces, like those within sport, sets us a dynamic in the real world out of the pool and off the court or field where we are the target of further harm.”

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