Ms Brothers recently came out as transgender, making her the first openly transgender Labour candidate to run for Westminster. Her announcement was welcomed by her peers and the Labour leader Ed Miliband, who said he was feeling “so proud” that his party chose her to stand in the 2015 general election.
Mr Liddle, an associate editor of The Spectator and former editor of the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, responded to the news in a column branded “transphobic” for The Sun.
He wrote: “She’ll be standing at the next election in the constituency of Sutton and Cheam. Thing is though, being blind, how did she know she was the wrong sex?”
His remarks quickly drew a backlash of criticism on Twitter, where they were condemned as “cruel” and “nasty”. Others denounced them as “insensitive” and discriminatory towards the transgender community and people with disabilities.
I know he is designed to shock but Rod Liddle's comments on Emily Brothers are so personal and cruel. You're not funny, you're just a nasty!; Sam Dick (@samdick) December 12, 2014
Meanwhile, some users criticised The Sun for printing the article in its newspaper, branding the decision to do so “a disgrace”.
I don't go much for anti-Sun moral outrage. But that thing by Rod Liddle is a disgrace. Can't believe it was printed.; Dan Hodges (@DPJHodges) December 11, 2014
Speaking to The Independent, Ms Brothers called for Liddle to have the “good grace” to apologise for his remarks and withdraw them.
“Personally I am ok and not distressed by his ridiculous comments,” she said.
“My position is that I think it’s a cheap comment that doesn’t surprise me coming from The Sun.
“But my concern is how other transgender people feel about these comments, particularly those who are going through the transitioning process and are fearful of other people’s reactions, and fearful of being ridiculed."
She added: “The question I would ask him is this: When he turns the lights out, does he not realise he is a man?”
Mr Liddle has since apologised for his comments, saying: "I wish Emily the very best and I'd definitely vote for her if I lived in Sutton and Cheam. I am sorry for the poor joke!"
Speaking after the Twitter storm, Ms Brothers said she was overwhelmed by the number of people who took a stand against the comments.
“Even before this, I’ve been overwhelmed by the reaction of people who have said things about me for which I am grateful - Labour party people, my opponents and people not connected to politics," she said.
"I am deeply touched by the comments of others and proud of their response in terms of seeking to defend me and other transgender people over the comments."
The most important recent coming outs
The most important recent coming outs
1/9 1. Ellen Page
The 26-year-old actor came out in an inspirational speech at the Human Rights Campaign’s youth conference, Time to Thrive, on 14 February this year. She spoke about her fear of coming out publicly and the effect that had on her. She said, to the crowd cheering her: 'My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered and my relationships suffered. And I’m standing here today, with all of the other side of all that pain.' Page said she hoped she could make a difference to others.
2/9 2. Vicky Beeching
Vicky Beeching, a British Christian rock singer popular in America’s Bible Belt, came out in an interview with The Independent, risking her career. In her interview Beeching talked about her anguish as a teenager as her feelings went against church teachings. Beeching now says she wants to be an advocate for gay rights within the church and came to blows with homophobic US Pastor, Scott Lively. She said to him on Channel 4 News: “I’m taking this step today so young people don’t have to listen to the kind of teaching you peddle, because it damages people.”
Jason Alden/The Independent
3/9 3. Tom Daley
The 20-year-old Olympic diving champion came out in an emotional YouTube video in December 2013, saying he was 'dating a guy' and in April this year said on ITV’s Celebrity Juice 'I am a gay man now.' This week Daley encouraged gay footballers to come out: 'I think people would be surprised how supported they'd be if they were to come out in a football environment,' he said at the Leaders in Sport conference in London.
4/9 4. Thomas Hitzlsperger
Speaking of footballers, the German, former Aston Villa player, Thomas Hitzsperger, became the highest profile footballer to be openly gay in January this year – he told the German newspaper, Die Zeit: 'It's been a long and difficult process… only in the last few years have I realised that I preferred living with a man.' The 31-year-old retired from the game in 2013 because of injuries. He said that he had thought about coming out earlier while he was still playing for Wolfsburg, but was warned against it. Afterwards he said 'there was not precedent, so people could only speculate on what would happen.'
5/9 5. Andreja Pejic
Andreja Pejic is known as the striking Australian model who has done shoots for Elle and Vogue, as a man modelling womenswear. In July 2014 she revealed she had undergone gender reassignment surgery and came out as a transgender woman. 'I hope that by being open about this, it becomes less of an issue,' she told People magazine.
6/9 6. Sam Smith
The singer and rising star of 2014 came out officially in May this year when he said his album was about unrequited love for a man. Speaking to the Fader he said: 'In the Lonely Hour is about a guy that I fell in love with last year and he didn’t love me back. I think I’m over it now, but I was in a very dark place. I kept feeling lonely in the fact that I hadn’t felt love before.'
7/9 7. Charlie King
The 29-year-old former The Only Way is Essex star Charlie King said he was gay in an interview with This Morning, only this month. In the interview he said he wanted to be honest about his sexuality to help other people in the same situation feel more comfortable about it.
8/9 9. Hodor!
The actor, Kristian Nairn, famed for his portrayal of the gentle giant Hodor on Game of Thrones came out in March this year. He told the Wall Street Journal he didn’t fit the stereotype of what a gay man is supposed to look like: 'You have to be thin, you have to be tanned… that’s never been be me.' He said he 'wanted to show the world that we are varied people, as everyone else, you don’t have to be any way.'
9/9 10. Ian Thorpe
Australia’s swimming champion Ian Thorpe denied being gay for years and did not feel comfortable coming out until July this year in an interview with Michael Parkinson. Thorpe is a five-time Olympic gold medallist and has recently retired from the sport, in his 2012 autobiography he said he was straight, and in July he said that being gay was something he was only just telling people: 'This is only something that very recently, we're talking the past two weeks, I've been comfortable telling the closest people around me.'
Dylan Sharpe, The Sun’s head of PR, responded on Twitter to claims the paper was being “discriminatory” and “transphobic” from one user, saying: “It's from Rod Liddle's column, where he gives his opinion. It is not the view of The Sun newspaper.”
The Sun declined to comment when contacted by The Independent.Reuse content