Rayner stands by trans charter that attacked feminist ‘hate groups’

Angela Rayner on the campaign trail for Labour in Blackpool South with Chris Webb, the party's by-election candidate
Angela Rayner on the campaign trail for Labour in Blackpool South with Chris Webb, the party's by-election candidate

Angela Rayner has declined to apologise for endorsing a charter describing feminist organisations that raised fears about the treatment of trans children as “hate groups”.

When Ms Rayner stood to be the deputy Labour leader in 2020, she backed a trans rights charter that described bodies including Women’s Place UK, which campaigns for single-sex rape refuges for women, as “trans-exclusionist hate groups”.

In the wake of the Cass review into the treatment of children with gender issues, which concluded that much of the evidence for gender medicine was “shaky” and that drugs such as puberty blockers should be used with extreme caution, Ms Rayner faced calls to renounce the comments. However, her spokesman declined to apologise.

High-profile Labour figures have previously made remarks endorsing the views of trans activists, including Sir Keir Starmer, the party leader, who in 2022 said that “trans women are women”.

On Thursday, Sir Keir’s spokesman declined to withdraw his remark but said: “Of course sex and gender are different, and legally different for good reason.” Sir Keir did not sign the charter when he stood as Labour leader.

Two years ago he said: “A woman is a female adult, and, in addition to that, trans women are women, and that is not just my view, that is actually the law.”

On Wednesday, Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, said he had been wrong to say in the past that “trans women are women, get over it”.

On Thursday, Victoria Atkins, the Health Secretary, accused Labour of having fuelled an “atmosphere of intimidation” on trans issues.

But a Labour spokesman said: “We all have a responsibility to ensure discussion of sensitive issues is conducted in a respectful way. That is how the Labour Party will always operate.”

The LGB Alliance, which was also listed as a hate group by the Labour trans charter, and last year was turned down when it applied to host a stand at the Labour conference.

The charter signed by Ms Rayner called on signatories to “organise and fight against transphobic organisations such as Woman’s Place UK, LGB Alliance and other trans-exclusionist hate groups”.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Kate Barker, the charity’s chief executive, said: “We hope Angela Rayner will reflect on the Cass review and reconsider her opinion of LGB Alliance. It is not ‘hateful’ for an LGB charity to warn about ideologically-driven, unevidenced medical experiments on young people, most of whom are lesbian, gay or bisexual.

“There’s a much more profound issue at play, however, which is a culture where even senior politicians condemn their opponents as ‘hateful’ with zero evidence and zero engagement. It’s also one of the chief reasons this unprecedented medical scandal has been allowed to continue for so long.

“This year, LGB Alliance will once again apply to exhibit at Labour conference. We hope, in the light of Cass, we will finally be granted the opportunity to attend and engage in civilised and rational discussion.”

Women’s Place UK, which had spoken out against plans to change the Gender Recognition Act to allow people to legally self-identify as a man or a woman without medical approval, said: “We welcome the change in direction by UK Labour and the comments made by several senior Labour figures in response to the Cass Review.

“We hope this is reflected across the Labour Party and in the manifesto.”

Ms Atkins told Sky News: “Labour has spent the last 10 years trying to shut women up when it comes to this. They have been part of the ideology, the culture wars, creating an atmosphere of intimidation for anyone who dared to question this ideology.

“So it is a little bit rich of the Labour Party to be lecturing the rest of us now, having been so forthright in their support for this ideology in the past.”