The debate has been raging for more than a year and was sparked by comments that Labour MP Rosie Duffield made about trans women.
The Canterbury MP has faced criticism for opposing people who were born male but self-identify as trans having access to spaces such as domestic violence refuges, school toilets and prisons.
Then, last summer, Duffield liked a tweet by journalist Piers Morgan which criticised the American Cancer Society for using the phrase “individuals with a cervix”. Replying to a tweet about the new recommendations, Morgan had asked “Do you mean women?”
After being criticised for like Morgan’s reply, she then tweeted asking if she’s a transphobe for “knowing that only women have a cervix”.
@Sarah_Cundy I'm a 'transphobe' for knowing that only women have a cervix....?!
Speaking to The Times in October last year, Duffield added: “Men seem to have a space or a door with the word ‘man’ on, then women have ‘women and anyone else’,” she said. “Why are we encroaching on women’s spaces but not men’s?”
In July, it was announced that party officials had launched an investigation after Duffield liked a tweet which said that trans people are “mostly heterosexuals cosplaying as the opposite sex and as gay”. The tweet, originally sent by American rapper Kurtis Tripp, also accused trans people of “colonising gay culture”.
What are other politicians saying about the comment?
Labour leader Keir Starmer criticised Duffield’s remarks but stopped short of describing it as transphobic. He told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One: “It is something that shouldn’t be said. It is not right.”
Starmer — who just last week published an essay outlining his vision for the Labour party — also called for a “mature, respectful debate” around trans rights and asked people to “bear in mind that the trans community are amongst the most marginalised and abused communities”. He added that “we need to go further” in legal terms to protect the trans community.
Health secretary Sajid Javid later slammed Sir Keir’s comments as a “total denial of scientific facts”. “And he wants to run the NHS,” the Tory MP tweeted.
Total denial of scientific fact.
And he wants to run the NHS. https://t.co/zdQjJU55r3
Meanwhile, deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner told Sky News that she was “shocked” by the level of abuse female MPs — both from Labour and the Conservative party — receive.
Rayner said: “Rosie deserves our full support and protection against that and she would get that. If she had come to conference, we would have risk-assessed and made sure that she had every bit of support that she needed to be here.
“Anybody who abuses Rosie Duffield who is a member of the Labour Party would go through our formal complaints procedure and I would expect a robust response on it.”
On Duffield not attending the conference, Sir Keir added: “I spoke to Rosie earlier this week and told her conference is a safe place for her to come, and it is a safe place for her to come.
“We do everybody a disservice when we reduce what is a really important issue to these exchanges on particular things that are said.”
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has also called the debate “unhelpful and unproductive”.
Speaking on LBC, Nick Ferrari asked Reeves if it’s transphobic to say only women have a cervix.
She answered: “I wouldn’t say that”, before adding: “I just think that this issue has just become so divisive and toxic, and it pits people against each other – both groups who have faced discrimination in society, women and trans women.”
She added: “If somebody identifies as a woman or a man, they should be able to do so whatever their body parts are.”
'Is it transphobic to say only women have a cervix?'
Nick Ferrari puts Labour's Rachel Reeves on the spot after Ke… https://t.co/zPArIRFNTF
Speaking at the Labour conference over the weekend, shadow equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds said that a Labour government would be committed to reforming the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier for transgender people to legally change their gender, and continue to support the 2010 Equalities Act.
Meanwhile, the NHS website outlines that, unless trans men have a hysterectomy to remove their cervix, it’s important that they get a cervical screening every three years between the ages of 25 to 49, and every 5 years between the ages of 50 to 64.
However, as one trans man called Jamie told the BBC recently, “confusion” over his gender led to a three-month wait for his cervical screening result, instead of the usual two weeks. Although women aged over 25 automatically receive a letter reminding them that they are due a cervical screening, trans men registered with their GP as male typically don’t.