Tony Blair weighs in on trans culture war: ‘A woman is with a vagina and a man is with a penis’

Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair has weighed in on trans rights, questioning “how politics got itself in this muddle” and declaring: “A woman is with a vagina and a man is with a penis.”

In an interview with Holyrood magazine, Blair – PM from 1997 to 2007 – said when it comes to trans issues, the “most important thing is to apply commonsense” and it’s a “weird thing” to him that people have ended up in this “extraordinarily polarised debate”.

This is not the first time Blair has waded in on LGBTQ+ issues. In 2021, he said the way for Labour to win a general election would be to “openly embrace liberal, tolerant but commonsensical positions” and “emphatically reject the ‘wokeism’ of a small though vocal minority”, as well as warning Labour to not “look askance” at JK Rowling’s views.

“I don’t know how politics got itself into this muddle,” he told editor Mandy Rhodes when questioned about toxicity in politics and the definitions of sex and gender.

Tony Blair. (Photo by Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage/Getty)

“What is a woman?” Blair said, “well, it’s not a very hard thing for me to answer really. I’m definitely of the school that says, biologically, a woman is with a vagina and a man is with a penis. We can say that quite clearly.

“The point is this: if people want to reassign their gender and say, ‘OK I may be born biologically a male but I want to reassign as female’, that’s absolutely fine and people should be entitled to do that. And there is no doubt at all there are people who genuinely feel that they are in the wrong body.

“I know this, I’ve dealt with it over the years. I was actually, I think, the first MP [who] ever had a full set of meetings with transgender people. So, I completely get it.”

‘Extraordinarily polarised debate’

The former MP for Sedgefield, in County Durham, then laid out the three qualifications that he sees as vital.

He said these were that [trans rights] shouldn’t stop women talking about being biological women – calling the idea that you can’t refer to pregnant women “completely ridiculous” – there should be the availability of single-sex spaces, and concerns about gender-affirming care for trans youth.

There may be situations, for example, where you have people who still have male genitalia but are in a changing room with women, and women will feel uncomfortable with that, he said on the topic of single-sex spaces. “They shouldn’t feel uncomfortable, so you’ve got to protect that, and the issues in relation to sport and so on.”

On healthcare for trans youth, Blair added: “You’ve got to be very careful with young people. If you’re talking about young people at an impressionable age, you’ve got to handle this with immense care, because whereas there are [who] may think that they’re gay, then decide later that they’re not, there’s no physical change that they’re engaged with. Whereas [with trans men and women], if you’re giving people treatment which involves physical changes, that’s such an enormously important, life-changing decision, you’ve got to exercise great care.

“Subject to those three qualifications – and I think that’s where the overwhelming majority of people are – I don’t find it difficult, I’ve never thought that difficult. So, it’s a weird thing that people have ended up in this extraordinarily polarised debate, in which the most important thing is to apply commonsense.”

With the General Election little more than two weeks away, the two major political parties have revealed their pledges on trans issues.

Labour’s manifesto pledged to “modernise, simplify and reform the intrusive and outdated gender-recognition law to a new process [to] remove indignities for trans people who deserve recognition and acceptance” but would they would still require “a diagnosis of gender dysphoria from a specialist doctor”.

A far cry from self-ID which Labour once vowed to introduce.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives’ manifesto stated: “Biological sex is a reality. The overwhelming majority of people in this country recognise that”.

The Tories promised to “complete the implementation of the Cass Report, protecting young people questioning their gender from ideologically driven care, and ensuring that NHS services follow evidence-based best practice”.

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