Published: 15:03, 20 September 2021
| Updated: 15:05, 20 September 2021
A Kent MP at the centre of a row surrounding trans rights has called for a meeting with party leader Keir Starmer to address the issue.
Rosie Duffield, Labour MP for Canterbury, says she feels her party's position on the matter should be clarified.
Ms Duffield has received a torrent of criticism regarding her personal stance on trans rights, and it was revealed yesterday she has decided to pull out of this year's Labour Party Conference following online threats made against her.
Speaking this morning to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the MP said she has requested a meeting with Sir Keir Starmer to discuss the Labour Party's position on the topic.
She said: "Lots of women have been asking to meet with Starmer in groups or one-to-one about this issue.
"Obviously he's incredibly busy but it would be good to just clarify what our position is as a party and just discuss how we go forward with this issue.
"He's always positive about trying to organise a meeting, it just hasn't happened yet."
She added: "I think it's really necessary that we actually talk about this subject."
Last August, Ms Duffield was branded a “transphobe” on Twitter after liking a controversial tweet by Piers Morgan in which he took issue with a CNN post that referred 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?”
After endorsing Mr Morgan’s view, Ms Duffield was flooded with complaints from social media users arguing that the comment undermined the status of transgender men.
Responding to the criticism, the Canterbury MP wrote: “I’m a ‘transphobe’ for knowing that only women have a cervix....?!”
Her comments sparked backlash from many, including bosses at Pride Canterbury, who called for her to apologise.
She later faced calls from LGBT+ Labour for her whip to be removed after she liked a tweet by American rapper Kurtis Tripp, which was branded transphobic.
He wrote: “I’m so sick of hearing how “queer” has been reclaimed. I had that word spit in my face as recently as 2018. And look at WHO is reclaiming it?
“Mostly heterosexuals cosplaying as the opposite sex and as “gay”.”
Writing on Twitter last week, Ms Duffield said while she has "always fully supported the rights of all trans people to live freely as they choose", she worries about the erasure of women’s safe spaces.
"I do not accept self-ID as a passport for male-bodied biological men to enter protected spaces for biological women," said the MP, who has spoken openly about her own experiences as a survivor of domestic abuse.
“That includes DV refuges, women’s prisons, single-sex wards and school toilets."
The Times revealed yesterday that Ms Duffield will miss this year's Labour Party Conference, which starts in Brighton on Saturday, after posts from transgender activists.
She reportedly said: “I mainly took the decision not because I really thought I was going to be attacked, but because I did not want to be the centre of attention."
Her decision to pull out led to Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle making an unprecendented intervention over the security of politicians.
He said elected representatives should be able to appear publicly “without fear of harm”.
Speaking on Radio 4 this morning, Ms Duffield, who chairs the Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party, said she has received "pretty unpleasant" messages in the wake of the trans rights row.
"There are groups that will be at Labour Party Conference that my presence would irritate," she said.
"I did not want to subject myself and other people to that kind of abuse.
"I'm not imagining they're necessarily going to physically harm me, but the levels of vitriol... it's pretty horrible and I don't feel that I want to go through that."
She went on to say that women "have every right to be able to voice their opinions" - highlighting a disparity between the way male and female politicians are treated online.
"The comments under mine and other women's tweets are very different to the ones of men," she said.
"This is a cross-party issue. All women in public life - not just politicians but anyone that puts their head above the parapet - get abuse for the way we look, what we say, and it's really horrible.
"And it always turns to violence when it's women.
"Pictures of guns, pictures of mocked up nooses. That's the kind of thing we get on social media."
In October last year Ms Duffield spoke out about being 'completely terrified' over online threats to her.
Ms Duffield has not responded to KentOnline's request for an interview.
Sir Keir has been approached for a comment.