Tory leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt has said that she never supported plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act.
Mordaunt served as equalities minister under Theresa May across 2018 and 2019, and during that time oversaw a public consultation on reforms to the GRA which were ultimately abandoned by Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.
It was government policy at the time to seek to demedicalise the GRA, a move would have allowed trans people to self-declare their gender.
But on Tuesday (12 July), Mordaunt declared on LBC that she has “never supported self-ID”, explaining that while in the equalities office she “disagreed” with the “clamour” to separate the gender recognition process “out from healthcare”.
LBC presenter Iain Dale asked Mordaunt if she still supported her previous statements before the House of Commons, where she declared “trans men are men and trans women are women”.
Mordaunt said that she believed trans women are not ‘biologically’ women, despite any legal recognition they may have.
“In law, some are,” Mordaunt said. “I’m a woman. I’m a biological woman. If I had a mastectomy in future years, I would still be a woman. I’m a woman in every cell of my body.”
She continued: “I’m also legally a woman, and people who have been through the gender recognition process, the gender reassignment, some people will have a birth certificate reissued to them in their new gender.
“And in law, they will be in their new gender, and when you’re writing law about those people, you have to take that into account.
“That doesn’t mean they’re identical to me.”
Penny Mordaunt attends a service to recognise fifty years of continuous deterrent at sea at Westminster Abbey on May 3, 2019 in London. (Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty)
Mordaunt, one of eight remaining candidates in the Tory leadership race, said that as prime minister she would address wait times for gender-affirming care.
“I think that we needed to do some things to make it easier for people to access services,” Mordaunt said. “The waiting lists to access services were a couple of years.”
She said there were “terrible problems” for trans people when they tried to have official documents like “driving licenses and passports” updated to reflect their gender identity.
Mordaunt asserted that she supports women-only spaces and liked that England has “refuges for women and trans women”. But she didn’t support a scheme in Scotland “where all refuges have to provide places for trans people”.
During her time as equalities minister, Penny Mordaunt was seen as a rare ally to the LGBTQ+ community among the parliamentary Tory party.
However, that image was shattered when, shortly after announcing her bid to become Tory leader, Mordaunt logged onto Twitter to answer the question: “Do I know what a woman is?”
I hope in, in the next few days we’ll able to discuss how we get our economy growing again and enable our citizens to live well. Right now, I’d like to address another question that I’ve been asked: pic.twitter.com/OImF6kUVzx
— Penny Mordaunt (@PennyMordaunt) July 9, 2022
Mordaunt spoke about her opposition to what she described as the “trans orthodoxy”, and said that while trans women can be considered “legally female…. that DOES NOT mean they are biological women, like me”.
Her statement was widely condemned by LGBTQ+ advocates and allies who said it was “deeply disappointing” to witness the MP using “trans and non-binary people as a punchbag” to “win more votes”.