Hundreds of women to quit Labour over transgender candidate row

Mayday4Women group claims party ‘takes women for granted’

Labour ribbon
(Image credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

More than 300 female Labour Party members are due to quit today over a decision to include transgender candidates on all-women shortlists even if they have not legally changed gender.

Under the recent change to shortlist rules - which are used to select candidates, from parliamentary elections down to local government - Labour will “guarantee candidates the right to self-identify as female without the need for a medical test or other certification showing that they [have] biologically changed sex”, reports the Daily Mail.

A draft resignation letter penned by Labour activist group Mayday4Women warns that its supporters “cannot continue to be in a party that takes women for granted”.

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The letter, sent to The Times, continues: “We are dismayed at the Labour Party’s support for sex as a self-identified characteristic for all-women shortlists.

“We now face a situation in which any man can simply claim to be a woman and be included on all-women shortlists.

“Sex is not a self-defined characteristic and it is disingenuous for Labour to pretend that it is. Self-identity - ‘I am what I say I am’ - reeks of male authority and male supremacy.

“In contrast, women are rarely believed about the sexual violence we face or about harassment on the streets and domestic violence in the home. It is for that reason that we - alongside 300 other women - are resigning from the Labour Party today.”

A party spokesperson responded: “All women shortlists are and always have been open to all women, which of course includes trans women. The Labour Party recognises the vital importance of self-definition for the trans community. The Labour Party continues to have an inclusive definition of women.”

Leigh Drennan, a councillor and vice-chair of Young Labour, believes much of the debate relates to “casual transphobia”.

Speaking to The Observer, he said: “I think that the overwhelming majority of the Labour Party certainly support the inclusion of trans women on all-women shortlists. In 40 years’ time people will look back and view campaigns for the exclusion of trans women as bizarre.”

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