Labour promises to simplify ‘degrading and tortuous’ gender transition process if elected

The Labour party has reiterated its plans to simplify the legal gender recognition process for trans people if elected to government, but will also “protect single-sex spaces”.

Keir Starmer’s party stated in its manifesto that it would “modernise, simplify and reform the intrusive and outdated gender-recognition law to a new process” and would work to “remove indignities for trans people who deserve recognition and acceptance, [while] retaining the need for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria from a specialist doctor, enabling access to the healthcare pathway”.

Speaking to Sky News, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for health and social care Wes Streeting – who previously said he regrets saying ‘trans women are women’ – described the process is “degrading and tortuous” and said his party would try to “take out” the “unnecessary and degrading part[s] of the process” whilst keeping still requiring a diagnosis of gender dysphoria to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate GRC).

Streeting said “we’re talking about very small number of people here” and Labour’s plans will “make sure that they have an experience that is much more respectful and so they can live their lives with freedom, dignity and respect”.

When probed by the interviewer “who is more important”, trans people or cisgender women, Streeting said “everyone’s important” and said the party would protect provisions for single-sex spaces in places like women’s prisons and hospital wards.

Placards promoting reform of gender recognition laws outside the Scottish Parliament, as inside MSPs prepare to debate the Gender Recognition (Scotland) Bill at Stage 1, on October 27, 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Ken Jack/Getty Images)

Streeting’s interview with the broadcaster comes after JK Rowling criticised Labour for “abandoning” women after Starmer’s appearance on BBC Question Time where he answered an audience question regarding his definition of a woman and his criticism of gender-critical Labour MP Rosie Duffield.

During the programme, Starmer said he now agreed with ex-prime minister Tony Blair’s definition that “a woman is with a vagina and a man is with a penis”.

When probed if he had “changed his position” on the topic, the Labour leader replied: “There are some people who don’t identify with the gender that they are born into and they go through a lot of anxiety and distress, and my view in life is to respect and give dignity to everyone, whatever their position. And I will always do that.”

Rowling wrote in The Times that “as long as Labour remains dismissive and often offensive towards women fighting to retain the rights their foremothers thought were won for all time, I’ll struggle to support them”.

“The women who wouldn’t wheesht [be quiet] didn’t leave Labour. Labour abandoned them.”

Asked by this, Streeting said Labour has a “a proud record when it comes to tackling violence against women and girls, promoting equality for women”, citing the number of women in Labour’s top team.

“We’ve got to a good place in our manifesto and I think there are lots of people who’ve been reassured by Labour’s position on this,” Streeting said.

“This has been a difficult conversation, and not just within the Labour Party but within our country because we have had some tension between how you treat trans people with dignity and respect and inclusion,and also make sure that women’s rights, voices, spaces are protected.

“I feel very optimistic, in fact, about the fact that we can reconcile those two things and move forward together as a country if we have a political culture that’s about bringing people together and navigating our way through these conversations with respect [and] genuinely listening to different perspectives, rather than seeing these differences as divisions to be exploited in – frankly – the way I think we’ve seen from from the current government.”

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