It’s been a few weeks since Jeremy Corbyn’s confirmation on live television that, yes, trans women are in fact women who belong on all-women shortlists. And after a couple of weeks without retraction, the suspension of transphobic Labour members, and support across the country from MPs and left-wing political commentators, one thing has been made clear; insidious exclusion of transgender people is not welcome in the Labour party.
As a community we’ve seen all manner of abuse and discrimination, disguised as progressive activism, within the Labour sphere: last month, a group of Labour party members began a fundraiser on GoFundMe to campaign against trans women being included on all-women shortlists, that raised a worrying £30,000. And last year, feminist Linda Bellos made her intentions clear regarding trans women being allowed in women’s changing rooms that, “if any one of those bastards comes near me I will take off my glasses and thump them.”
The bigotry of these people is made clear, if not in the online abuse they dish out and the campaigns they champion against transgender people, then in the deceptive language that they use. Distinctions are made in opinion pieces and tweets between trans people and women (presenting a larger issue of the erasure of trans men and non-binary people) alluding to the idea that trans women aren’t “real” women, ringing hollow their insistence that we are a community that they wish to support (those who started the anti-trans GoFundMe claimed to support transgender rights in the campaign’s description.)
But from these depressing and demeaning incidents, we see positives. Jennifer James and other women who began the aforementioned GoFundMe have since been suspended by the party on grounds of their transphobia, and Bellos’ place in the party has been brought into question on a number of occasions over her statements. Moreover, this sentiment of transgender people being excluded from spaces reflective of our identities looks to be rejected by the party consensus, with many constituency Labour MPs and university societies in the country voicing their support for our inclusion.
These are, of course, positive steps. But transgender equality, even in the Labour Party, is a battle that we are admittedly still far from winning. Only this week, we saw the publishing of a deceptive school resource back on transgender students, smattered with dog whistle phrases like “trans-identified” and published by Transgender Trend, an organisation that claims to work with parents questioning the “trans narrative.” And this resource has been shared by the likes of infamously-transphobic Nicholas Davies, an individual hoping to join the ranks of his local Labour candidacies.
No doubt that there will continue to be cases like this. And whenever they may occur, no matter how exhausting and dehumanizing they may be, they must be fought against, by ourselves as transgender people, Labour or not, if we’re able. And when we are not, then by our allies with greater reach, influence, and ability.
Momentum has done an outstanding job of establishing a clear and unified path for the Labour party in democratic socialism and progressive politics. We need to follow suit for our trans comrades; raise awareness, deplatform those who wish to spread hate, and fight the good fight for a better Labour, and a better country.