Another win against the trans lobby shows why Starmer’s gender plans are all wrong

Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer needs to deliver a more coherent stance on single-sex spaces that protect women - Belinda Jiao

One would have assumed that a woman who has been raped, and seeks help from a rape crisis centre, is entitled to know the sex of the counsellors who she is disclosing to. One would assume that if a rape victim is anxious enough to ask whether her counsellor will be male or female, she can be reassured that she will be talking to another woman. One assumes that an organisation set up to support rape victims is not in the business of keeping the sex of its own support workers secret from the users of that service. One would presume that, in such a moment of trauma, a woman is not judged in some way unsound for seeking these reassurances. This, after all, is why rape crisis centres exist: to provide female-only spaces of safety.

Well, one has assumed wrong. It has been common knowledge that Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, funded by the Scottish Government, has been run by a trans woman who has no gender recognition certificate, i.e. who is legally a man. Mridul Wadhwa.

Wadhwa, appointed in 2021, has made a whole series of controversial statements about what kind of support women coming to the centre should get, including: “sexual violence happens to bigoted people as well.” This means that if a victim has “unacceptable beliefs”, they need to be challenged and have their trauma reframed.

One of those beliefs Wadhwa deems unacceptable is the refusal to buy the line that transwomen are women, full stop. The victim who has just suffered sexual violence at the hands of a male needs re-educating. Wadhwa took a place on a SNP all-women shortlist, has objected to amendments allowing rape victims to choose the sex of medics who examine them and thinks the single-sex provision that is part of the Equality Act 2010 is discriminatory against transwomen.

However Wadhwa identifies, Wadhwa is a trans-activist who is prepared to harass and dismiss women who believe that biological sex is a reality.

The extent of all this has been revealed in an excoriating judgment at a tribunal where Roz Adams won her claim of constructive dismissal against Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre. The judge talked of a “heresy hunt” headed up by Wadhwa, who launched an investigation into Adams for holding gender-critical views.

The investigation was described  as “somewhat reminiscent of the work of Franz Kafka”. Essentially, Adams was discriminated against for simply asking on behalf of one of the service users about the biological sex of a counsellor. This is wrongthink.

There is no room for discussion; one must bow down to a belief system that maintains gender trumps biological sex every time, that a man who says he is a woman knows best what rape victims need. Actual women do not get a choice.

So many awful things were revealed in this judgment. Survivors who do not want to be exposed to men with transgender identities were no longer accessing support because this was a condition of getting help. Wadhwa did not care. Internals emails revealed that the setting up of Beira’s Place, another rape crisis centre funded by JK Rowling – which is a single-sex space – was seen as a sad day for Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, who would not refer people there.

What kind of mindset sees more services for rape victims as bad? What kind of narcissist prioritises their brand of activism over actually helping all kinds of women? Wadhwa has openly admitted that trans inclusion means the firing of anyone deemed transphobic.

JK Rowling took me to Beira’s Place on the day it opened. The hugely experienced staff there do not offer “re-education”. Isabelle Kerr, the chief executive, explained to me: “It just doesn’t matter what your politics are. We focus on what you can only focus on.” It should not take JK Rowling to finance this, but thank whatever god you like that she has.

This is yet another case demonstrating that when light is shone on to these proponents of extreme gender ideology, the centre cannot hold. In the most vulnerable of places – prisons, rape shelters, hospitals – women’s rights are in conflict with the demands of trans activists. You cannot square this circle by classifying anyone who experiences this as “a transphobe”. You cannot keep shouting about how progressive you are when you will dismiss the actual fears of rape victims about male violence as some kind of prejudice.

Labour, especially, need to take note of what is happening in Scotland if it proposes to make self-identification easier. Single-sex provision is what it says on the tin, no matter what is going on in the heads of some deluded men.

Those who supported Wadhwa’s grift should hang their heads in shame. This is a case of abusive behaviour and appalling workplace practices presided over by a zealot. Wadhwa has said, “The women’s sector must cleanse itself of bigotry.”

If only. The bigot here is a man who bullies anyone who does not agree with him. You can dress that up in all the radical language you like, it is a story women know inside out.