Labour activists are calling for the whip to be withdrawn from Rosie Duffield after the MP liked a tweet referring to transgender people as “cross dressers” amid a months-long row about transphobia.
Duffield, 49, liked a tweet from anti-trans campaigner Maya Forstater that branded the Law Society’s guidance on transition and changing gender expression in professional settings as “celebrating cross dressers in the office”.
Forstater is known for unsuccessfully arguing, at an employment tribunal last year, that her anti-trans “gender critical” beliefs should be protected under the Equality Act 2010. Throwing out her case, the judge said that Forstater’s views on trans issues are “not worthy of respect in a democratic society“.
I haven't "learnt to be careful" yet Maya…Don't panic though, bus to Stepford leaves shortly, that'll teach me. Bound to be fully reprogrammed by the time I return…😶
— Rosie Duffield MP (@RosieDuffield1) October 4, 2020
LGBT+ Labour Scotland and several Momentum and student Labour groups are now calling for the whip to be withdrawn from Duffield, who’s been plagued by accusations that she is transphobic for the past two months.
“LGBT+ Labour Scotland calls for Rosie Duffield MP to have the whip withdrawn,” LGBT+ Labour Scotland tweeted. “Despite attempts to reach out and educate, she continues to like transphobic content on Twitter and mock those raising concerns. This is unacceptable behaviour from a Labour MP.”
LGBT+ Labour Scotland calls for Rosie Duffield MP to have the whip withdrawn. Despite attempts to reach out and educate, she continues to like transphobic content on Twitter and mock those raising concerns. This is unacceptable behaviour from a Labour MP. @Keir_Starmer
— LGBT+ Labour Scotland (@LGBTLabScot) October 4, 2020
Rosie has either not learnt to be careful about what she retweets or endorses this transphobic bigotry.. Unacceptable. https://t.co/MgCp5Nvoir
— Heather Peto (@heatherisone) October 3, 2020
Duffield, who is the chair of the women’s parliamentary Labour party group, now has “if you’re policing my ‘likes’ you *really* need a new hobby!” in her Twitter bio.
Multiple grassroots Labour accounts have joined calls for Labour to withdraw the whip.
BLAT would like to add our voice to call for Rosie Duffield to have the whip withdrawn. It is absolutely ludicrous for an MP within our party to feel they can continue to promote transphobic content and not be held to account. https://t.co/3egmtp1d0O
— Bristol Labour Against Transphobia (@BLAT_Labour) October 4, 2020
Rosie Duffield likes a tweet describing guidance to make trans people comfortable in an office environment as being for the benefit of "cross dressers" and when questioned on it, says she's not been "reprogrammed" into saying the right things@UKLabour can't keep ignoring this
— Momentum Reading (@ReadingMomentum) October 4, 2020
We here at sheffield Labour students stand firmly with our comrades across the country calling to withdraw the whip from MP Rosie Duffield.
Transphobia has absolutely no place in the Labour Party.
— Sheffield Labour Students (@ShefLabStudents) October 4, 2020
ELS supports the @LGBTLabScot condemnation of Rosie Duffield and stands in solidarity with the trans community. Transphobia is a growing issue in the Labour Party, and directly impacts trans lives, the leadership must take serious action and show its open support for LGBT+ rights https://t.co/S94fF2lIdV
— Edinburgh Labour Students (@EdLabStudents) October 5, 2020
RLB retweeted an article containing an antisemitic conspiracy theory and was, rightly, sacked from the front bench the same day.
Rosie Duffield has been liking and sharing transphobic content for weeks and the leadership hasn't said a word.
Their silence speaks volumes.
— Leeds Labour Society (@LeedsLabourSoc) October 5, 2020
Further on to this, the actions and behaviour of Rosie Duffield liking outright Transphobic content is unacceptable and should have no place in the party.
We also join the call to have the whip removed. https://t.co/af9StMsvNB
— The 1987 Caucus ✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽 (@1987Caucus) October 4, 2020
Remove the whip from Rosie Duffield. Stop tolerating transphobia @Keir_Starmer
— Lewisham Deptford Young Labour (@LewDeptYL) October 5, 2020
On Twitter, Duffield said that “trans rights are human rights, women’s rights are sacred too” and said that the criticism she was receiving – in a thread with a tweet from LGBT+ Labour co-chair Heather Peto, who is a trans woman – was down to “stranger men I will never meet […] policing my ‘likes'”.
Thank you. Yes, this concept seems un-graspable to some! Trans rights are human rights, women's rights are sacred too. Yet, before I have even opened my female mouth, stranger men I will never meet are policing my 'likes' and telling 'my' thoughts to the World for me = misogyny.
— Rosie Duffield MP (@RosieDuffield1) October 4, 2020
During the leadership race earlier this year, Keir Starmer signed LGBT+ Labour’s list of pledges, which include a commitment to introducing a “fully independent complaints process” for instances of transphobia within the Labour party.
He has yet to make a public comment about Duffield.
Rosie Duffield transphobia row.
At the start of August, Rosie Duffield insisted that “only women have a cervix” and doubled down on accusations of transphobia by labelling the backlash against her a “tedious Communist pile-on”.
Despite criticism from the LGBT+ community for excluding trans men and some non-binary people, Duffield, who was elected Labour’s first-ever Canterbury MP in 2017, spent the next 10 days liking anti-trans tweets.
She then issued an apology insisting that she had “always” supported trans rights and had been “hurt greatly” by the accusations of transphobia levelled against her.
But a cis lesbian, who was Duffield’s only LGBT+ staff member, resigned over the MP’s continued anti-trans statements – and hit back at Duffield’s claim to be a longtime LGBT+ ally.
Sophie* (name changed to protect her identity) told PinkNews that in the weeks after Duffield’s comments, there was a huge influx of “bigotry landing in [our] office” – several hundred more emails and letters each week than usual.
“The support Rosie got from this, and the bigots emboldened by this, is ongoing,” Sophie said. “It’s flabbergasting that a Labour MP should be OK with that – but she’s done nothing to say that she’s not.”
“I cannot put a price on my self-respect or my commitment to LGBT+ rights,” she wrote in her 14 August resignation letter to Rosie Duffield. “While I am in this role I am effectively a representative of you, and I cannot go out and bat for you having heard you say the things that you have, so I must resign.”
The Labour Party and Rosie Duffield have been contacted for comment.