Published: 16:12, 11 August 2020
| Updated: 17:58, 11 August 2020
A Kent MP at the centre of a transphobia row has announced she is quitting Twitter - accusing it of being a platform for "misogyny, racism and political extremism".
Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield, who became embroiled in an online spat after being accused of transphobia, was urged to apologise by campaigners after she said "only women have a cervix”.
This afternoon, she posted on Facebook to say sorry to anyone who may have been offended by language she used, and said she had learnt from the incident.
The controversy erupted after she liked a tweet written by television host Piers Morgan.
Ms Duffield's 29,000 followers were able to see that she had liked the tweet, in which Mr Morgan seemed to take issue with CNN referring to "individuals with a cervix" in a reminder about the importance of smear testing.
Mr Morgan replied to the tweet, asking: “Do you mean women?”
Ms Duffield's action was criticised by Labour activist and Canterbury resident Sarah Cundy, who branded her a "transphobe".
The MP then responded, saying "I'm a 'transphobe' for knowing that only women have a cervix....?!"
Pride Canterbury bosses have since written an open letter to the Ms Duffield urging her to apologise, after failing to receive a response from her for several days.
Following the controversy, Ms Duffield has this afternoon announced she will be taking a break from Twitter.
In a post on the social media site, she wrote: "Well Twitter, it's been a blast. But like many others, I'm taking a break from social media for a bit.
"No doubt the misogyny, the racism and the political extremisms will all still be here when I return..."
The MP also took to her Facebook page to apologise for causing offence.
'I am sorry for any offence my own recent use of language on this issue may have caused...' - Rosie Duffield MP
She said: "I understand how choice of language is important in this debate and acknowledge that carelessness can cause offence - I am sorry for any offence my own recent use of language on this issue may have caused. I have learnt from this and will continue to do so."
In a lengthy post, she described the past few days as "difficult and distressing" for herself and her team.
She referred to her work fighting for equality and women's rights, including basic equal pay, maternity rights and an end to violence against women, adding: "Recent accusations of being transphobic have hurt me greatly; it has upset many people I love and care for."
She continued: "I am, and always have been, completely supportive of trans rights. I have spent decades campaigning for equality and supporting LGBT+ rights.
"We need to bring together women’s and trans groups to ensure we progress and protect hard won rights both through the law, and culturally."
Ms Duffield says the conversation has been "too toxic" for too long, hijacked by people at extreme sides of the political spectrum and with their own agendas.
She also says social media is not the right place for "nuanced policy discussion", adding: "I think we’d all benefit from a proper debate where voices and opinions are respected, and where kindness, tolerance and learning is at the heart of our movement."