Duffield reiterates support for trans rights after LGBT+ staffer quits

Andrew Kersley
© Chris McAndrew/CC BY 3.0

Labour’s Rosie Duffield has reiterated her support for trans rights and reforming the Gender Recognition Act after it was revealed that an LGBT+ staffer quit her office over the MP’s comments about trans people.

According to a letter from August seen by Pink News, the only LGBT+ employee working in the Canterbury MP’s office resigned last month in protest at what she described as Duffield’s “overtly transphobic” views.

While refusing to comment on the resignation of the staffer in question, the MP’s office has told LabourList that Duffield supports the rights of all trans people to “live with dignity and be treated with respect”.

A spokesperson for the MP said: “Rosie fully supports trans rights and the Labour Party’s commitment to upholding the Equality Act and updating the GRA, which the Conservative government has delayed for far too long.

“She believes passionately that people have the right to live with dignity and be treated with respect in an equal and inclusive society.”

According to PinkNews, the anonymous staffer had been working for Duffield since the start of 2020 and was the only LGBT+ person in the office. Her resignation letter described the MP’s comments as “offensive to the trans community”.

The MP for Canterbury faced criticism from Labour activists last month after she liked a tweet by Piers Morgan in which the broadcaster took issue with a CNN post that referred to “individuals with a cervix”.

After being criticised for liking the tweet, Duffield reacted by saying: “I’m a ‘transphobe’ for knowing that only women have a cervix… ?!”. She later shared a Spectator article that referred to a “transgender thought police”.

Party-affiliated group LGBT+ Labour later issued a statement criticising Duffield and calling for “measurable action” from the leadership. Labour Campaign for Trans Rights asked the Labour whips to “take this forward”.

Keir Starmer has not commented publicly about Duffield’s tweets or the criticism she received from party members. Several Labour MPs, including frontbenchers Rachel Reeves, Jess Phillips and Wes Streeting, have defended their colleague.

In an interview last month, Phillips said: “I hand on heart don’t think that Rosie Duffield is a transphobe.” The shadow minister has been criticised herself in the past for defending Woman’s Place UK.

Duffield has since apologised for her tweets on trans issues, saying that she has “spent decades campaigning for equality and supporting LGBT+ rights”.

The Canterbury MP was elected to the previously safe Tory seat for the first time in 2017. She was appointed as a whip by new leader Keir Starmer in mid-April, but resigned from her frontbench post after breaking Covid lockdown rules.

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