Press photo of Rishi Sunak. Sunak and Starmer clashed today over transphobia in Parliament
Press photo of Rishi Sunak. Sunak and Starmer clashed today over transphobia in Parliamentrishi sunak

In today’s Prime Minister’s questions Sunak and Starmer have clashed after the Prime Minister took a jab at the leader of the opposition for “not knowing what a woman is”. Starmer responded with fury noting the attendance of Brianna Ghey’s mother in Parliament today.

Sunak and Starmer are as bad as each other when it comes to transphobia, in my view. As a whole the Conservative party are far worse, yes. They are not only a lot more frequent with their anti-trans bigotries but they are also often a lot more extreme and willing to buy into any old anti-trans conspiracy theory. But Labour have not been better enough.

Numerous Labour MPs, councillors and members have been engaging in anti-trans activities with absolutely zero consequences for that. It was only a few weeks ago when a Labour candidate for the Cazenove ward by-election was (briefly) suspended after having been deeply racist and transphobic on social media by comparing Dylan Mulvaney to blackface.

Starmer himself is no stranger to transphobia either having previously dithered over questions about whether trans women are women and whether women can have a penis or not. So I fail to see which moral high ground Starmer thinks he sits on when he and others in his party have engaged in the exact same anti-trans rhetoric as Sunak.

Sunak and Starmer’s clash is currently being commented on by many in cisgender media in part because Brianna Ghey’s mother was in attendance at Parliament at the time. Notably, Brianna Ghey’s murderers spoke about her in a derogatory and objectively transphobic way. They referred to her as a thing, delegitimised her gender identity and made invasive comments about her genitalia.

These are the exact same things we have heard from Politicians under both Sunak and Starmer. I ran a series of polls on Twitter asking my trans followers if they had experienced this kind of language too – overwhelmingly they voted yes.

The dehumanisation of trans people in media, politics and on social media is ubiquitous and completely unopposed by anyone in leadership. Sunak and Starmer are no different in this respect and I won’t pretend that Starmer’s huffing and puffing over Sunak in Parliament today was anything but performative outrage. He has done absolutely nothing to demonstrate he gives a single shit about our lives. He allows bigotry to fester under his roof too.

Another Member of Parliament later asked for Sunak to apologise for his comments. Sunak declined to even acknowledge the request.

On the same day Kemi Badenoch took to the press to claim she has evidence to support a common anti-trans conspiracy theory. Known as “transing the gay away”, the theory suggests that parents who are homophobic would seek to medically and surgically alter their child to be the opposite sex and therefore straight now.

The theory does not attempt to reconcile itself with statistics that show trans people disproportionately identify as non-hetero.

After Sunak and Starmer’s scrap in Parliament Badenoch took to Twitter to take her own swipes at the leader of the opposition. In which she, quite correctly in my view, criticised Starmer for latching himself onto a tragedy as a means of furthering his career. Other commentators online also pointed out how politicians have done similar with other tragedies in other marginalised communities.

I’d love to be wrong about that. I’d love for Starmer to actually be a dedicated trans ally. I’d love to be able to count on Labour to support my human rights. But I just don’t. Not while the same Labour politicians who just the other week were saying the exact same things Sunak did today are now on Twitter condemning him like he said the worst thing ever.

All love and solidarity to Esther right now, I only hope she can escape the snakepit without too many bites from either the red or blue venomous pricks.