Gender transition process ‘not dignified’, says Keir Starmer

People changing gender must be treated with “respect and dignity”, Sir Keir Starmer has said as he was challenged on his party’s plans to reform the process.

The Labour leader said single-sex spaces “must be protected” and “we mustn’t go down the route of self-identification” when asked about the issue on The Sun’s Never Mind The Ballots show on Monday evening.

But he added that it was necessary to “recognise the procedure or the process at the moment is not dignified”.

He said: “There are some people who don’t identify with the gender that they’re born into, they are very distressed by that, and my rule in life is to treat everybody with respect and dignity and that’s what I will do.”

His comments follow reports that Labour is considering reforming the process for changing gender.

The current system requires that someone has a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, has lived in the gender they are transitioning to for at least two years, and intends to live in that gender for the rest of their life.

The application must be approved by a panel of doctors.

According to reports, Labour proposals would allow applications to be approved by a single doctor and remove the requirement for someone to live as their preferred gender for two years, instead introducing a two-year “reflection period” after making an application.

The requirement for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria would still be necessary.

Graphic showing opinion poll
(PA Graphics)

Earlier on Monday, Sir Keir said he was “not in favour of ideology being taught in our schools on gender”.

Draft guidance published last month by the Department for Education says schools should teach the law on gender reassignment, but if asked about gender identity teachers should “teach the facts about biological sex and not use any materials that present contested views as fact, including the view that gender is a spectrum”.

A Labour spokesperson said the party would “modernise, simplify and reform the intrusive and outdated gender recognition law to a new process”.

They added that the party would “remove indignities for trans people who deserve recognition and acceptance” while protecting “single-sex spaces”.

But at a campaign event in Chelsea on Monday evening, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said a Labour government would “threaten” the security and safety of women and girls “because unlike the Conservatives, Labour simply don’t understand that sex means biological sex”.

Labour’s position has also been criticised by author JK Rowling, who accused the party of having “abandoned” women.

Speaking at The Sun’s event, Sir Keir said he respected Rowling’s view and would be happy to meet her to discuss the issue.