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Labour still doesn’t know what women want The party disregards gender at its peril

Angela Rayner at Pride in 2022. (Angela Rayner, X)

Angela Rayner at Pride in 2022. (Angela Rayner, X)


July 9, 2024   6 mins

Just before the election, Keir Starmer finally found the third way on trans issues and women’s rights. First, he was damned by J.K. Rowling, who wrote in The Times that she would “struggle to support” Labour and suggested she might vote for an “independent candidate… campaigning to clarify the Equality Act”. Then, he was condemned by Attitude Magazine, which appended a lofty editorial to an open letter from the Labour leader. Starmer, it said, had been “equivocal” about trans issues.

Yet after all this noise, you would be hard pressed to find evidence that gender recognition reform and trans rights were ever an election issue. Kelly-Jay Keen’s Party of Women — the terf-ultras running on a platform of repealing the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) and removing “gender reassignment” as a protected characteristic from the Equality Act — not only failed to elect a single candidate (to be expected for a small, new party); it lost its deposit in all 16 seats it contested.

Transactivists, however, have equal reason for disappointment. Yes, the Liberal Democrats saw a huge surge with a pro-GRA reform manifesto; but the SNP, who actually attempted to put that reform into practice, suffered an equally remarkable collapse. Meanwhile, Reform only won five seats but took a larger vote share than the Lib Dems: their “contract” with the electorate promised to “ban transgender ideology” in schools.

There has been some talk that the success of independent candidates against Labour incumbents represents a “Left revolt” against Labour. But it’s notable that those takes don’t mention trans rights — and understandable, given that four of the five independent MPs in the new Parliament are conservative Muslims who ran on a pro-Gaza platform, and not natural allies of the gender-nonconforming (the fifth is Jeremy Corbyn).

For trans people, this apparent irrelevance after a decade as the hot button topic du jour must be disconcerting. For Labour, it’s probably a relief. Throughout Starmer’s leadership, gender ideology has been the sole issue on which the party could consistently be made to look weak. Indeed, the more that Labour demonstrated competence and discipline on the economy and foreign policy, the greater the incentive for interviewers to hammer the “but what is a woman?” button and see what headline-generating inanities would fall out of the shadow cabinet.

But by the time of the election, that had been substantially defused. Front benchers including Wes Streeting (for health and social care) and Shabana Mahmood (for justice) showed that they had engaged deeply and seriously with the problem of balancing rights between women and trans people. The Stonewall-endorsed thought-terminating cliches were out. Labour’s 2019 manifesto had committed to introducing gender self-declaration. In 2024, that pledge was gone: there was now a promise to protect single-sex exemptions, and implement the Cass Review’s recommendations.

From the vantage point of government, with a gargantuan majority and the first female chancellor, Labour may wish to flatter itself that its woman problem is over. Labour would be wrong to do so. Just because an issue is not electorally decisive, that doesn’t mean it’s politically unimportant. And although an issue may appear to have been neutralised at the ballot box, there is no reason to believe it will stay that way.

Trans issues can be classed as what the writer Helen Lewis has called a “brown M&M” test, after the band Van Halen which included a demand in their rider for “M&Ms with the brown ones removed”. This was once seen as evidence of spoiled rock star indulgence, but the M&Ms themselves were irrelevant: it was a way for Van Halen to check whether venues had read and followed all the band’s instructions, including the safety-critical ones about pyrotechnics. If there were brown M&Ms in the bowl, the band knew everything on stage needed to be double-checked.

In the same way, a politician’s ability to comprehend the detail of the Equality Act and the GRA should be taken as a test of their seriousness as a legislator. With a few honourable exceptions, Labour remains some way from passing. The manifesto, welcome as it was, also pledged to introduce a “trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy” — something that is simply incompatible with the Cass Review’s insistence on preserving exploratory options for youth. This suggested that the Cass Review had perhaps not been fully absorbed by the manifesto’s authors.

Another commitment was to “simplify” the Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) process. Subsequent briefing suggested this meant moving to a model where one doctor’s diagnosis of gender dysphoria was sufficient to change legal sex — more rigorous than self-ID, but barely so. There was also mention of removing the so-called “spousal veto”, which in reality is simply a provision for spouses of transitioners to annul the marriage before the GRC is issued, meaning no one has their sexuality unilaterally changed by state fiat. It’s an elegant solution to a difficult situation, and one that is much valued by the many wives of men who transition in midlife.

The unhappy implication is that Labour has been writing policy without listening to the people affected. This is a step up from the “government by Stonewall” that was the case up until very recently when it came to policy around gender identity, but it still betrays a sloppiness about the detail and a lack of care when it comes to women’s rights — an impression that is only reinforced by Labour representatives’ ongoing commitment to misunderstanding the Equality Act in public.

Take, for example, Margaret Hodge’s insistence that the Equality Act unambiguously protects women-only spaces, and any suggestion otherwise was “deliberate misunderstanding by the anti-woke establishment”. On the contrary: it is Stonewall rather than any “anti-woke establishment” that has been spreading an interpretation of the Equality Act which insists male people have legal access to female spaces. Meanwhile, the fact that there is an active case over whether women have the right to single-sex services (specifically, rape crisis counselling) shows the law as it stands is far from clear.

Gallingly, one of the many Labour spokespeople failing to understand the Equality Act is the same politician who originally piloted that law through parliament. In a 2022 interview, Harriet Harman pledged her allegiance to the belief that trans women are women, and went on to say: “We also need to recognise that in some respects there need to be same-sex services, which can be delivered and you can’t have a blanket exclusion of trans women, but in certain circumstances, in narrow circumstances, you can restrict those services.”

This is, generously, entirely incoherent. Harman seems not to understand that same-sex services are only possible through the “blanket exclusion” of trans women; nor is there any suggestion of how the “certain circumstances” would be determined. Speaking to Woman’s Hour this week, she continued to maintain in the face of all evidence that the Equality Act simply needs “guidance”, even though the legal meaning of sex is contested. Ideally, an inability to understand legislation you helped to draft would be considered disqualifying for high office; instead, in another sign that Labour does not take women’s rights altogether seriously, Harman has been tipped as the next head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Labour’s ongoing discomfort with the woman issue is manifest in the fact that it took three days after the election to appoint a minister for women and equalities. The trans issue has made this a poisoned brief. Whoever was appointed, it was guaranteed to outrage either LGBT Labour or the party’s gender-critical faction. Once again, Starmer appears to have found a third way. It was eventually announced on X that the job had gone to Anneliese Dodds, who shadowed it in unimpressive style, dismissing criticisms of GRA reform as “culture wars”.

Less fanfared is the fact that Dodds will be junior to Bridget Phillipson, Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, and someone who has shown a more robust grasp of the issues. This looks like a way to give transactivists a visible win, while holding the actual political power closer to the ideological centre. That’s positive, but Labour needs more than savvy optics here: the implications of gender identity run too deep to be ignored.

The infected blood and post office scandals should be a warning that ethical derelictions by the state only become more grievous with time. The harms done to children who received unevidenced medical care under the guise of treating gender dysphoria, or to female prisoners forced to share accommodation with men for the sake of “inclusion”, will not disappear because the Government prefers not to see them. And, bluntly, many of the groups most afflicted by bad gender policy are relatively young and physically fit. Unlike haemophilia sufferers or retired postmasters, the Government will not be able to evade any eventual financial liability by simply waiting for them to die.

“The infected blood and post office scandals should be a warning that ethical derelictions by the state only become more grievous with time.”

But alongside the policy tangle around gender identity, these election results point to another dimension in Labour’s women problem. Though the party’s losses to independents in the midlands and north look like shocking upsets, in reality they are the outcome of Labour’s longstanding reliance on male-dominated “community leaders” in Muslim populations to mobilise the vote — networks known as biraderi, meaning “brotherhood”.

Although the biraderi were partly a reaction to Labour discrimination against Asian members, they perpetrated their own discrimination against Muslim women: in a 2016 Newsnight interview, female Muslim members of the Labour Party described how the biraderi had mobilised to slander and harass them in order to keep women out of local politics. But because the biraderi were helpful to Labour, they were allowed to go largely unchallenged.

This meant that Labour constituency parties had already ceded a large part of their local networks, and failed to build links with the younger Muslim community. When the biraderi decided to go their own way against Labour (mobilised through the Muslim Vote campaign), it was relatively simple to divert their campaigns to their preferred candidates. Had Labour paid attention to Muslim women’s own warnings about the stifling anti-democratic influence of the biraderi, perhaps this could have been mitigated. But women were ignored, and the consequences are now apparent.

Labour should not have to learn the same lessons over and over again. Women’s rights and interests are not a mere add-on. They are fundamental to a functioning society, and when women are disregarded, deeper problems follow. Starmer may be congratulating himself for now on having equally displeased both sides of the argument about gender. Instead, he should be asking himself how to make law and policy that is actually fit for purpose — for women, and for all. Trans issues did not decide this election. But a failure to reckon with them seriously will be an indictment of Labour’s future fitness to govern.


Sarah Ditum is a columnist, critic and feature writer.

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Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
8 days ago

Outstanding article, highlighting with precision the prevarication of the political class, but in particular the incumbent government of course.

I see the usual.male suspects are making disparaging remarks in Comments already. As those types sometimes say to women, i say to you: just “Shut up”.

The author also grasps the nettle of the Muslim voting issue, and brings to our attention the background story of how Muslim males have been allowed to dominate the agenda, which is now backfiring on Labour through the Gaza issue. Again, to those Commenters with their trite ‘one-liners’, address these issues – if you have the ability to do so – rather than demonstrating your ignorance.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
8 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

I see the usual.male suspects are making disparaging remarks in Comments already. As those types sometimes say to women, i say to you: just “Shut up”.
Ha, yes – good for you. And that “shut up” really reverberates with a northern accent, right?
Also glad to see the Muslim voting issue being taken up here – and specifically how the behaviour of Muslim men is impacting on women. I’m not a particular fan of Jess Phillips but I thought she was tremendously brave to face down the hecklers when she was announced as winner of the Birmingham Yardley constituency.
Still, as far as I can see, she didn’t address the question of how religion is feeding into this anti-female behaviour, choosing to stick with saying that they were behaving that way because they were idiots, not because they were Muslims.
The problem (which is something many countries in Europe are grappling with) will only get worse if you skirt around it, and women – as per – will get the rough end of it.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
7 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Shabana Mahmood is such a delicate flower that Keir Starmer has made her Justice Secretary, and Jess Phillips is likewise noted as a shrinking violet. Therefore, Mahmood and Phillips were aghast at having encountered hostility on the campaign trail, and at having been heckled when making their acceptance speeches. In 1997, Jimmy Goldsmith slow hand clapped, and chanted “Out! Out! Out!”, as David Mellor was unseated. In 1992, the Lib Dems in Bath almost drowned out the concession speech of Chris Patten. The Lib Dems. In Bath. But Mellor and Patten were mere Cabinet Ministers. Mahmood and Phillips are of an altogether higher order.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
7 days ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

It is not just the heckling, which every politician gets at some point. It’s the mentality behind that heckling. Because this wasn’t just shouting – it’s backed up by primitive notions of male superiority. And for her to stand up on stage and call those losers out, specifically for not being able to deal with a strong woman, that was extraordinarily brave.
Because that primitive notion of male superiority which runs like a toxic stream through certain *clears throat* communities goes hand in hand with the notion of male honour, which Ms. Phillips, in calling them out, probably offended. And when that offence means fear of harassment – of you, of your family, of your kids – then of course you think twice. Many would have been cowed, but Phillips wasn’t.
Like I said, she lets herself and all other women down by failing to address the religious aspects of this problem. But the pushback on this truly toxic masculinity cannot depend on her alone – it needs the backup of her party, other players across the political spectrum, the legal system where necessary.
Addition: The UK is not alone in this – this behaviour is evident in France, Belgium, Germany, Austria too…I’ve seen and experienced harassment myself from males from cultures formed and characterised by Islam. I read about it every damned day in the papers. If we cannot have a real, Europe-wide conversation about this – I genuinely have fear for the future.

Ron Wigley
Ron Wigley
7 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

For sometime now I’ve been seriously worried by the the absence of intelligent males defending the absolute right of women to be themselves and equal to men in every aspect, senior male politicians in particular are notably reticent in calling out the clear misogyny that exists generally here, but in particular the misogyny within the Muslim faith.

Lynn Paul
Lynn Paul
6 days ago
Reply to  Ron Wigley

Where are all the good men??

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
5 days ago
Reply to  Ron Wigley

Ron, you are ignoring the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and people like S Qutb. The MB were founded in 1924 to reject western culture. They were going nowhere until defeat in the Yom Kippur war of 1973 and the rise in oil prices which enabled Saudi Arabia to export Wahabism. Butto pushed the Islamic agenda in Pakistan from 1970. The secualr Arab nationalism of Nasser and Baathists allowed women to enter the professions. If one watches news reels from late 1960s early 1970s shows Muslim women wearing min skirts.
The problem is that the West completely ignores the rise of MB and other groups such as Hizb ut Tahrir, Tablighi Jammaat, etc which reject Western Culture because of the sexual freedom it gives to women.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
5 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Katherine you appear slow on the uptake; Bangladesh 1970 War of Independence ; Algerian Civil War 1990 to 2000, Janjaweed , Sudan, Taleban , Iraq to name but a few where Muslims are rather nasty to other Muslims.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
7 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Was Jess Phillips brave or just desperate? Had she shown some bravery in recent years, for example by refusing to attend meetings of her constituents and of Labour activists where women were segregated and made to sit at the back of the room, or dissuading her supporters from harvesting postal votes, the situation at the count may never have arisen.

Edward McPhee
Edward McPhee
7 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Wonderful comment. Could I recommend “The Women Who Wouldn’t Wheesht” as it provides an insight to how Scotland fared with their Gender Recognition law.

David Morley
David Morley
7 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

I see the usual.male suspects are making disparaging remarks in Comments already

Really, where? Or have they been censored already?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
7 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

Maybe it was David Tennant.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
7 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

Yes, they disappeared a few hours ago. I’d have preferred they were retained.

David Morley
David Morley
7 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

We all would!

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
7 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

As one of those male “suspects”, and someone who ranks his own well being far behind that of his young daughter, a young girl who faces a considerably harsher and uncertain world thanks to YOUR camp, I would say, likewise.
To the women and their male “allies” like you. JUST SHUT UP and stop inflicting your garbage ideas – and start learning some accountability.

Because YOU are the ones driving most of the social changes and consequences on us – by block voting for rubbish political parties, and YOUR control over media, bureaucracy and education.

None of these.- NONE – would be possible without college educated upper class women:
– Curbs on free speech.
– Unchecked illegal immigration.
– Softening law enforcement.
– Diversity policies
– Lunacies like trans men entering girls toilets.

Take for instance the two focus issues in this one.
If left to men, they would make an example of any man violating women’s spaces (even though women themselves have eroded those men’s spaces).

Why is trans and random men entering women’s toilets ONLY an issue in gynocentric, feminist dominated western societies but not in say Saudi, Nigeria, India, Japan?
Which group of people is the main support base for trans?
Any answers?

And who enabled Labour to empower the horrible attitudes towards women in islamic communities?
The women in the media and academia who made islamophobia more important than the rights of girls in those communities and in Rotherham.
And the women who voted for Labour.

Something like three fourths of college educated women under 30 voted for Labour! Even as headlines started breaking on what was happening under their watch.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
7 days ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

I’m not in any camp, of any description.
As far as i can recall from much earlier today, i don’t think you were among those i ‘called out’ at the time of posting. However, if the cap fits…
I can tell you in no uncertain terms that you’ve completely mischaracterised my intentions. Your diatribe – embarrassing only to yourself – seeks to place me in a position i simply don’t recognise. I support none of those thing you ascribe to me. Think again, more clearly next time.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
7 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

I don’t care two hoots for your “intentions”

I do see what you do in your comment.
“usual.male suspects …ss those types sometimes say to women”
That line is way more revealing about you than you imagine. And you are in a camp.

Blame men, paint women as victims, take no accountability.
That’s your camp.

Young girls like my daughter are seeing men enter their toilets, beat them up in sports, or being assaulted in large numbers by males protected by their “race’.

It’s not because of the “usual male suspects’.
It’s because of women, and because of men like you.

So again.
JUST. SHUT. UP.

jane baker
jane baker
7 days ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

I think the “chattering classes” the “luvvies of Islington’ got the shock of their lives when for the first time ever they saw Muslim people (accompanied and supported by white people of religion or no religion or Jewish) out in force. I think it shocked them to the core. Those liberal luvvies have been telling us for decades,as most of them have a public “voice” that Muslims are only 4% of the British population,so practically non-existent,but suddenly this non- existent almost invisible population was out in a highly concentrated and visible way on their.streets,and it I think shocked them to the core.
And,being highly intelligent people,it occurred to them that these people breed,so in 20 years time they may be a higher per cent of the population but even more significant,they breed within their faith and ethnicity. They don’t reach out and incorporate educated white young women into their home life,why would they. They also reject educated young woman of their culture. They prefer to send for young women from their village of origin in wherever,girls who have been brought up pure,without the corrupting influence of western education or any education really. The “chattering classes” have had the shock of their lives and thus have countered it by labelling anyone who supports the demos and marches as being Nazi Anti-Semites,thus a whole lot of Jewish people find themselves in the extraordinary position of being designated self hating Adolf fans. It’s beyond parody.

Michael Walsh
Michael Walsh
8 days ago

…”Labour’s longstanding reliance on male-dominated “community leaders” in Muslim populations to mobilise the vote”…
Don’t you mean …..Labour’s longstanding reliance on male-dominated “community leaders” in Muslim populations to “fill in all the postal votes” ?

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
7 days ago
Reply to  Michael Walsh

It was the postal votes that won it for Jess Phillips.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
7 days ago
Reply to  Michael Walsh

Keep in mind though, that muslims were just one of their favoured block voting groups. Blacks were another.

Their biggest, most dedicated voting base?
College educated young to middle age women.
Who remained faithful even as headlines started breaking on what was happening in Rochdale and Rotherham, and how girls were being treated in islamic communities across Britain.

JOHN B
JOHN B
6 days ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

And because the left control of narrative is such that these girls are made to disappear in the same way as someone like Stephen Lawrence can be made omni present. Why do the left control the narrative? I’d suggest because they are so enamored with their own outraged sense of morality as to convince themselves and others that they must be right.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
7 days ago

I am no fan of either Starmer or Labor, but has anyone ever known what women want? All jokes aside, “women” are no more of a monolithic voting bloc than any other group. For every JK Rowling who understands what a woman is, there is another female who thinks that shes can become hes simply by saying so.
The Muslim issue is worth noting. If only someone had raised it before. Oh, wait; lots of people DID raise it, and were summarily dismissed as racists and xenophobes, with plenty of Labor women hurling those accusations right alongside Starmer and the other menfolk.
Perhaps Labor deserves a hearty congratulations for getting exactly what it asked for, even though the results will also be inflicted on millions who did not ask for this.

Jake Varghese
Jake Varghese
8 days ago

A well considered piece. However, the sentence “Although the biraderi were partly a reaction to Labour discrimination against Asian members, they perpetrated their own discrimination against Muslim women” betrays a deep ignorance, one can only hope was not wilful! The reference can only be to Muslim men since Hindus and, to a lesser extent, other men from south Asia are far less sexist culturally! Call a spade a spade and spare non-Muslim south Asian men from being clubbed together with those whose regressive culture stems from their very faith!

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
7 days ago

Very good article, but yet again – the reference is always to ‘trans’ people, without clarifying what this phrase actually means. Most, if not all, of the men claiming ’gender’ dysphoria are fetishist transvestites. In order to use the legal loophole that activists have managed to get so many institutions, organisations & govt departments to bow to, these men make sure that they only go to doctors who are already on board with the ‘ideology’ & will give them the diagnosis they so fervently crave.

The very fact that these men are so desperate to get into ladies loos, changing rooms, refuges, hospital wards, sports etc is in itself a huge red flag. They claim it is ‘unsafe’ for them to be in the men’s. So by what metric is their presence considered ‘safe’ in the women’s? Men’s problems are not women’s problems, so let them sort it out amongst themselves. Must men in the toilets don’t give a toss about what other blokes are doing.

The blatant disregard for women’s concerns in the face of the whining, the clear & very obvious bullying, abuse, threats & actual violence perpetrated by these determined thugs is astonishing. That no one with any authority to clarify this and listen – actually listen – to actual women makes this entire fiasco look like a chapter out of Alice in Wonderland.

Women are by nature not as aggressive as men but the squeaky wheel gets the oil. TRAs are very very squeaky & it’s about time women SHOUTED OVER THEM. The question is: will anyone in Labour be prepared to turn around, admit their cowardice and actually bloody well LISTEN.

JOHN B
JOHN B
7 days ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

The ideology is entirely empty, the only excuse for it being that it perhaps helps people with delusional beliefs cope, but I suspect even that is not true and indeed by casting people further from what is real you only serve to compound their distress. Selling snake oil to desperate people.

David Morley
David Morley
7 days ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

Most, if not all, of the men claiming ’gender’ dysphoria are fetishist transvestites. 

Look, we just don’t know that. It’s the fave theory of one side of this argument. The trans phenomena is poorly understood. I suspect there might be multiple causes. What we do know is that it is cross cultural and existed in history. It’s not new. So it is, in some sense a perennial, if not permanent, part of the human condition.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

I wonder if this is actually true. From what I gather, very few global cultures have anything quite like the idea of modern ‘transgender’ per se, something applicable to both sexes and completely separate from (homo-) sexuality.
There many cultures that do have something analogous to the idea of ‘extremally effeminate gay man’. Which is to say, the only type of ‘transgender’ person historically widely recognised is a male-attracted ‘transgender women’*. As examples, consider the Fa’afaine in Polynesia, Hijira in India or Kathoey in Thailand.
Often actually this crosses over to being (from a Western-perspective) somewhat homophobic, because all gay men are interpreted as somehow womanly, especially if they are the receiving partner.
*(I put this in quotes because these individuals are(or were pre-21st century) usually conceived of as a third-sex or something in-between male and female, not ‘actual’ women for general socio-cultural purposes. Which would be interpreted as pretty transphobic today by many on the progressive Left)
But look cross culturally and there are vanishingly few examples of female-attracted transwomen being referenced, must less accepted, or of transmen full stop.
This chimes with the demographic profile of transgender people psychiatrists had until relatively recently – almost all male-attracted males.
For my two cents, I suspect male-attracted transwomen are probably a human universal rooted in biology, in the same way of homosexuality is, perhaps with some of the same causes. The other subcategories look a lot more like social contagion, badly construed body dysmorphia and in some cases, fetishism.

JOHN B
JOHN B
6 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

It’s not poorly understood and there are not multiple causes. It is a delusional belief, albeit not that different from the various delusional beliefs that thought and abstraction generates within humans.

Nancy G
Nancy G
3 days ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

Jane is right. The cross-dressers haven’t disappeared, they’ve just put themselves under the transgender banner so they can claim entitlement to the compassion that we are supposed to feel for the ‘transwomen’ who claim to have been ‘born in the wrong body’ (I can’t help it, I was born this way). In fact, the performance of their transvestic fetishes depends on keeping their male bodies intact.
Many, perhaps most, so-called transwomen are heterosexual; many have been or are married and have fathered children. We need to hear more about/ from trans widows – the present and ex-wives of these men – about their experiences, which often include the bullying and abuse (i.e. misogyny) that Jane mentions. https://www.transwidowsvoices.org/

Gary Chambers
Gary Chambers
8 days ago

Superlative article. It neatly highlights Labour’s continuing failure and drift on a vitally important issue.Still not fully detached from the Stonewall lobby. Or the malign power of the biraderi. Unherd at its best.

J C
J C
8 days ago

Great article. I’m glad the misogyny inherent in the “trans rights” and the “brotherhood” political movements was highlighted. Both of these political forces elevate men and endanger women. Labour needs to distance itself from both.

David Morley
David Morley
7 days ago
Reply to  J C

Both of these political forces elevate men and endanger women

It’s nice when all your enemies, who on the face of it are all distinct and at war with each other – all turn out to be one and the same enemy. Trans and Islam – just the left and right wings of the great patriarchal phalanx.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
7 days ago

Existing equality legislation has caused way more problems than it has solved, with Muslim men and trans activists demanding special privileges over and above the equality granted them by the law – and at the expense of the human rights of other groups in society. It needs to be reformed as a matter of urgency, ditching all the protected characteristics – providing protection only for women’s and men’s single sex groups and access adjustments for disabled people.
In the meantime, the Muslim males, trans activists and other assorted neanderthals who are attempting to dominate the narrative should be told to shut up and get lost.

Matthew Book
Matthew Book
7 days ago

It’s a pity to see that women’s interests are relegated to woke ideology food fights. Are women so disregarded that they are not really considered adult citizens with a full range of interests in the common good? It’s even worse that women are doing it to themselves!

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
8 days ago

Very good article – starting with a smashing first sentence. That was 10 points right off the bat, brilliant writing.

JOHN B
JOHN B
7 days ago

There is no middle way on this issue and by accepting there might be is to capitulate to the ideology whilst calling it centrism. Also, there is no evidence that delusional men are made in any way happier by the indulgence of delusion, which is the current approach via GRA 2004. Indeed generally, we think that indulging delusion tends to make people less happy not more, because delusion is cope for a deeper sense of self dissatisfaction/unhappiness generated by thought. Trans is an attempt to use thought to solve thought. Whereas what’s needed is an end to thought and a perception of the deeper reality that lies beneath that, including that one is a living being, perfect already.  

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
8 days ago

A superb article which hits every nail on the head. Could you perhaps Cc Keir Starmer?
He hasn’t listened to Rosie Duffield so it’s unlikely that he will acknowledge you. Worth a try though.

Jeff Carr
Jeff Carr
7 days ago

Was anything of seriousness an election issue?
It has struck me that almost every party and definitely every media outlet attempted to focus on anything other than policy, strategy and action plans.
Do we have any idea what this new administration intends to DO about anything??
DEI avoided
Net Zero action – avoided
Immigration action – avoided
NHS action? avoided
Energy action? avoided
Growth – yes we want it, How – avoided

Emmanuel MARTIN
Emmanuel MARTIN
7 days ago

As long as women reliably vote Labour, who care about their preferences ?

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
8 days ago

This is recognisable government by the media/NGO/academia left-liberal Blob that with the civil service also composes a bureaucratic bloc- a sort of ideological civic corporatism.
Still odd that they embrace Judith Butler’s kink-based transhumanism so wholeheartedly. The cultural power and political penetration of the modern university should not be underemphasised.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 days ago

One interesting quirk of the increasing importance of the Muslim vote in the UK is over single-sex spaces. It can sometimes be difficult for non-religious women, who don’t have a history of assault, to articulate why even a ‘passing’, sincere transwoman in a single-sex space makes them uncomfortable without sounding like a bioessentialist man-hater as well as a ‘transphobe’. That turns off potential political allies.
Muslims don’t have that problem. It’s relatively easy to just say ‘it’s a religious thing’ and even non-Muslim conservatives generally leave it at that without probing further, especially when it’s something like changing rooms or medical care.

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
7 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

They never ‘pass’. They may think they do because women are afraid to stand up to them & their presence. I wonder why?

Elspeth Cooper
Elspeth Cooper
8 days ago

Superbly clear and comprehensive. Excellent final paragraph.Huge thanks to Sarah Ditum.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
7 days ago

My take is that Starmer was happy to throw middle aged, left-leaning ‘Terfs’ under the bus. He gambled that they wouldn’t hold their noses en masse. Personal anecdote, but several female friends who have been apoplectic about this all ended up going back to their tribe. Well, reap what you have sown.

The younger, woker female voter has other choices that all back the trans side: Green, Lib Dem and SNP/Plaid Cymru. Losing votes to Muslim ‘independents’ means that they had to gamble on keeping what remained of their voter base. Looks like it paid off this time.

Geoffrey Kolbe
Geoffrey Kolbe
7 days ago

I have sympathy with Harriet Harman. I too am confused by the legislation around gender recognition. I read that there is to be a ban on transition therapy, but how does that square with generally advising and helping young people to change their gender?
I suspect that this is an example of how Labour will fashion their other policies. Logical coherence and internal consistency will simply be ignored. It will be left to the courts to sort out the details.

jane baker
jane baker
7 days ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Kolbe

You CANT FIX stupid.

Catherine Conroy
Catherine Conroy
7 days ago

Starmer did not find a third way, he’s been crapping on women with all those appointments.

David Morley
David Morley
8 days ago

Labour’s longstanding reliance on male-dominated “community leaders” in Muslim populations to mobilise the vote — networks known as biraderi, meaning “brotherhood”.

Sounds far more interesting than the trans issue. More in depth on this please.

jane baker
jane baker
7 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

If we had PR voting would this “enable” the Muslim vote. I just wonder. And I also wonder if this thought has occurred to the Islington’ luvvies who for decades have been reassuring us that the Muslim sector of british society is so tiny 4%,as to be negligible. I bet when that 4% were marching down their street it put the wind up them. It’s quite possible,I’m not a statistician,that this is a sector of the population that has acquired a Critical Mass,and in political terms thats dangerous. And a lot of them know it. The thing is if your Grandparents,your Parents and then you had White Saviour Complex and saw your brown skinned neighbour as an object of sympathy and compassion,someone to pat on the head and offer literacy classes to it must be hard to have to rearrange your mental furniture.

Howard Clegg
Howard Clegg
8 days ago

Nobody knows what women want. Especially women.The only safe route is to behave like the adult in the room; be polite and reasonable. So when the neurotic shit hits the fan, which it will, you can remain functional. The Labour party should do the same, because there will be an awful lot of very neurotic shit being chucked about.

jane baker
jane baker
7 days ago
Reply to  Howard Clegg

Girls just wanna have fun. Bloody true. Even Old Girls.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
8 days ago

test

Michael F
Michael F
7 days ago

In my seventh decade, I must confess that I don’t know what women want, despite having been happily married for many years, finding myself blessed with two wonderful daughters as well as my beloved.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 days ago
Reply to  Michael F

Women certainly don’t want men in their spaces, sports, short-lists, etc. There! Solved your problem.

David Morley
David Morley
7 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Actually there is no unanimity amongst women, and no one opinion which represents them all. It’s an issue which divides both women and feminists. In general women are more tolerant of trans than men are.

jane baker
jane baker
7 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

WTF!

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
7 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Men are, on average, statistically more likely to make that statement.
At least in the West.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
7 days ago
Reply to  Michael F

I wouldn’t be able to answer that question, and I’m female. I can only say what I want, not what other women want.

jane baker
jane baker
7 days ago
Reply to  Michael F

That’s what they want!

A J
A J
6 days ago
Reply to  Michael F

Can you say what men want? Do men all share an identical list of wants? If not, then why should women all have the same wants?

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
7 days ago

The biraderi has all the remaining importance of Freemasonry or the Orange Order. If that includes still thinking of itself as dominant, then there you are. Wes Streeting was brought to the brink of defeat by a 25-year-old Palestinian woman. In a hijab, she probably agreed with Sarah Ditum about gender self-identification, as does this 46-year-old man. But how many young women do? And how many middle-aged, middle-class women do? The enforcers of these things in university administration, in humanities departments, and in politics, bear more than a passing resemblance to the tiny gender-critical minority of feminists. Those in that minority need to have a word with their peers.

Last edited 7 days ago by David Lindsay
Deb Grant
Deb Grant
7 days ago

I didn’t read it all. My first hesitation was use of the derogatory term ‘terf’. The second was the clincher: a statement about Labour demonstrating competence on the economy and foreign policy when they didn’t have a hand in any of that because they weren’t in power. What they have voiced on the economy remains arguable and is far from proven.

John Riordan
John Riordan
7 days ago

I’m no fan of the Labour Party, but given that nobody else knows what women want either, it seems a bit harsh to make a point of it here.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
8 days ago

Gosh, I thought at first glance at the placards in the image that Angela Rayner was leading an anti-lockdown rally! Sadly mistaken. Give it a couple of decades, perhaps. Ethical derelictions by the state do indeed only become more grievous over time.

Kat L
Kat L
7 days ago

Aren’t they in for the next 5? What exactly does ‘at their peril’ mean?

Terry Raby
Terry Raby
7 days ago

test
the trans issue is an intrafemale issue

jane baker
jane baker
7 days ago

I’m biologically female even if I never attained womanhood,I can tell you having Lady parts does not of itself mean you become a woman,that’s a deeply inner spiritual thing. But I’ll claim it for now. As a young woman aged 18 what I wanted,WHAT I REALLY,REALLY WANTED was to stay in my home all day,grow roses,bake bread, and sew patchwork. That was my ideal life and that went totally against the ethos of the era and was the Love that dare not speak,so to speak,and now a LOT of young women are seeing how their Grans and their Mums adoption of the “women have a right to go out to work” has simply trapped the older ladies in poverty and stress and are rejecting it. Every time I hear a political administration say “we are going to give this or that sector of society the “right ” to do this or that” I know that it won’t be long before it becomes the duty to do this or that. What price Right To Die eh?

Aidan A
Aidan A
8 days ago

“Labour still doesn’t know what women want“… Neither do women 🙂

David Morley
David Morley
8 days ago
Reply to  Aidan A

Someone had to say it. 🙂

David Morley
David Morley
8 days ago

The unhappy implication is that Labour has been writing policy without listening to the people affected. 

Because this is really not a major issue compared to other challenges they face. Both sides are rigid in their positions, neither will give any ground, so they’ve gone for a middle way in the hope of quietening things for a bit.

Sure, the tories and their useful idiots will do their best to keep it alive – they’re in pretty desperate shape – but Labour should do their best to avoid it.

As for women’s issues – number one: some women struggling to make ends meet for themselves and their families. And the chances of them running into a trans person if they pop to the loo on their way to a food bank are pretty slim.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
8 days ago

Er, can anyone explain to me what that article meant?
I do know that, Siegi (Freud) old chap, it’s not what women want, it’s what they expect. And what women expect is: “women expect to be protected.”

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
7 days ago

Your experience of women must be very limited then, because I don’t expect and have never expected to be ‘protected’ which is just code for being dominated – and neither have all the women I have worked with and befriended over the years. They would laugh at such sweeping generalisation.

jane baker
jane baker
7 days ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

So why did some woman in s local case demand the parking spaces right outside the council office where they worked as they felt it was dangerous for them to have to park at the other end of the car park as a rapist might be hiding in the bushes. As we know ,all men are rapists. Wasn’t demanding the parking spaces right outside the building kept reserved for them, demanding extra protection. Surely if they were equal they would be competent to park down the less well lit end. And why assume they are so sexually alluring and erotically enticing that any moment a man is going to jump on them (in their dreams maybe) in fact why think that rapists might be hiding in the bushes in the first.place.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
6 days ago
Reply to  jane baker

Since ‘some woman’ made this demand, clearly this does not apply to ALL women or even the majority of women. Try to put your critical thinking skills to use – if you have any.