Labour MP Wes Streeting on trans debate: ‘Men have penises, women have vaginas’

Shadow health secretary’s comments follow Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner rejecting framing of question

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Wednesday 30 March 2022 11:18
Comments
<p>Labour MP Wes Streeting, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care </p>

Labour MP Wes Streeting, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

A Labour frontbencher has broken ranks in the discussion over trans rights and declared that "men have penises, women have vaginas".

Characterising his comments as a "biology lesson", Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary said he however believed trans rights should be debated in a "respectful" way.

It comes after Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner both rejected the framing of the question about genitalia – which broadcasters have taken to asking politicians.

MPs touring the studios in recent weeks have been subjected to questioning over whether they believe someone with a penis can identify as a woman.

Appearing on TalkRadio with host Julia Hartley-Brewer, Mr Steeting replied: "Men have penises, women have vaginas, here ends my biology lesson."

He added: "That doesn't mean by the way that there aren't people who transition to other genders because they experience gender dysphoria and we should acknowledge that and conduct the debate in a respectful way that respects those people's rights and dignity."

His comments come on the morning Jamie Wallis, a Conservative, came out as the first trans member of parliament.

Mr Streeting's reply prompted delight from radio host Ms Hartley-Brewer, who started clapping and replied: "Wes Streeting, can I just say, I've got a Labour MP on who can answer that question and who did biology."

The MP added: "Oh god, I'm getting a clap from Julia Hartley-Brewer, this is the end of my lefty street-cred, if I ever had any."

His response to the question contrasts with the approach taken by the Labour party leadership – which has said the framing is unhelpful and upsetting.

Asked the same question on Monday Keir Starmer told LBC radio: "I don't think that discussing this issue in this way helps anyone in the long run.

"What I want to see is a reform of the law as it is, but I am also an advocate of safe spaces for women.

"I want to have a discussion with anybody who genuinely wants to find a way through this.

"I do find that too many people retreat to or hold a position which is intolerant of others. And that's not picking on any individual at all, but I don't like intolerance, I like open discussion."

And deputy leader Angela Rayner had previously replied that the framing of the question "really debases the serious issues that people face" and "really upsets me".

“When we debase it to what genitalia you’ve got, I think all that does is damage people and it doesn’t help us go forward on some of the real issues that people are facing," she said.

Mr Streeting, asked by Ms Hartley-Brewer whether he could "have a word with Keir Starmer", said: "He doesn't need any advice from me ... we want a respectful debate about these issues and we recognise that there've been tensions on the gender identity debate and sex-based rights debate and we've just got to acknowledge that and find a way through that maybe not everyone loves but maybe everyone can live with."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in