Sadiq Khan has waded into the biggest debate currently happening within the Labour Party, stating unequivocally that he supports trans rights.
In a tweet posted yesterday, the Mayor of London said that he believes all gender identities are valid.
Trans women are women.
Trans men are men.
Non-binary people are non-binary.
All gender identities are valid.
— Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (@Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan)
It comes after leadership hopefuls Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry signed a pledge to demand the possible expulsion of transphobic hate groups (although Thornberry advised against this terminology) from the party.
One of the main groups named is Women's Place UK, which fights to keep trans women out of women-only spaces on the basis that the sex human beings were assigned at birth trumps gender identity and self-identification. This ideology is at odds with the notion of trans-inclusive feminism.
Women's Place UK immediately rallied, launching the hashtag #ExpelMe which was trending on Twitter for days, and ended up being co-opted to launch into transphobic diatribes across the platform.
The lone male leadership candidate Keir Starmer didn't sign the pledge, and has been trying hard to stay out of the toxic narrative. When asked what he thinks defines a woman (something that he arguably shouldn't have a say in as a cis man), he responded:
Trans rights are human rights and we're talking about a community that's faced vilification and abuse and the Labour Party stands up for people who face villification and abuse.
Lukewarm response at best. He went on to say that the issue shouldn't be treated as a "political football" and that we need to "dial this down".
For cis men, commenting on trans issues can be complex. The majority of the anger and fear is towards trans women, and by standing up for their rights, cis men can often be accused of being misogynistic by those who we can only infer as a result believe that the rights of cis women matter more than those of trans women.
Sadiq Khan will surely be aware of this tension and the impact that his words could have on his career. The "gender critical" faction of the internet is known for banding together incredibly efficiently, launching sustained attacks against high profile people who support the rights of trans women, as we saw last year in the case of Munroe Bergdorf, for example.
With this in mind, Khan's straightforward support of trans rights is incredibly important, and shows that there are cis straight men in the Labour party willing to behave as true allies to one of the most oppressed communities in the world.
But the responses remind us that there's still a long way to go on this issue when it comes to society at large.
There were those that seemed to willfully misunderstand Khan's point.
@MayorofLondon By your logic:
Women are transwomen
Men are transmen
Thus all gender identities are meaningless… https://t.co/pa0DlKKjea