Keir Starmer says trans women ‘don’t have the right’ to use women-only spaces, even if they have a GRC

Keir Starmer pictured against a blue background
Keir Starmer (Image: Chatham House)

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said trans women with Gender Recognition Certificates “don’t have [the] right” to enter women-only spaces.

Speaking in an interview with The Times this week ahead of the General Election tomorrow (4 July 2024), the likely next prime minister added “biological women’s spaces need to be protected.”

The politician was responding to a question posed to him by the gender-critical J. K. Rowling when he made the statement.

“They don’t have that right – they shouldn’t” – Keir Starmer

Writing on 29 June on X, formerly Twitter, Harry Potter author Rowling asked: “Do biological males with gender recognition certificates have the right to enter women-only spaces? It’s a simple yes/no question.”

Responding, Sir Keir said: “No. They don’t have that right. They shouldn’t. That’s why I’ve always said biological women’s spaces need to be protected.”

Asked whether he will meet Rowling, he said: “I have indicated a willingness [to meet her]. Hopefully we can get that organised.”

Gender Recognition Certificates, or GRCs, give legal recognition to a person’s affirmed gender in matters such as marriage and pensions. GCRs were introduced under the The Gender Recognition Act 2004.

Existing government guidance on single-sex spaces states that ‘The Equality Act 2010 allows service providers to operate single-sex and separate-sex services – such as toilets, domestic abuse refuges, changing rooms – when they have a good reason to do so (for example, only one sex needs to use the service or space) and the limited provision is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.’

In May, current equalities minister Kemi Badenoch launched an appeal for people to send examples of organisations issuing “incorrect” and “bad” guidance on single-sex spaces.

The Conservative MP for Saffron Walden said she wants “policymaking […] to tackle any confusion” and “ensure single-sex spaces are maintained.”

“We will continue to support the implementation of its single-sex exceptions”

In its manifesto released last month, Labour said: “Labour is proud of our Equality Act and the rights and protections it affords women; we will continue to support the implementation of its single-sex exceptions.”

Elsewhere, the manifesto states: “We will also modernise, simplify, and reform the intrusive and outdated gender recognition law to a new process. We will remove indignities for trans people who deserve recognition and acceptance; whilst retaining the need for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria from a specialist doctor, enabling access to the healthcare pathway.”

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