Labor MP for Canterbury Rosie Duffield has once again made headlines for her regressive views on transgender people. While speaking at an LGB Alliance conference on Friday, she was asked about the possibility of a misinterpreted person becoming a hate crime.
Duffield replied, “Is this a serious thing? Will it happen soon in Parliament? I hope not, because you better stop me now. I don’t call Eddie Izzard a woman.
Izzard, a beloved British comedian who is currently campaigning to run as a Labor MP, said in August that she “prefers her/her” pronouns and is “going to be relaxed about it”, adding ” Now is not the time to fight each other.” other”.
Using Izzard’s favorite pronouns is a matter of simplicity, human respect and politeness – but it seems too difficult for Duffield. She would rather use Izzard to portray herself as a brave free speech advocate, willing to risk arrest for deceiving a future colleague and making a tired, petty point.
Where Duffield made these comments is also worth examining. The LGB Alliance is an anti-trans lobbying organization that is linked to anti-abortion and anti-LGBT groups in the United States, and has previously said that opposition to equal marriage is “not homophobic”.
In the old days, Duffield opened up about his commitment to gay people on Twitter, saying she has “actively fought for gay rights (and all human rights)” throughout her life. However, her willingness to speak at a controversial and widely discredited organizing conference and the jibe she gave Izzard sends a different message.
Duffield also previously called trans women “biological men with male bodies”aligned with “gender-critical” viewpoints, agree with Piers Morgan’s comment that only women have a cervix, and “liked” a tweet that referred to trans people as “mostly heterosexuals cosplaying as the opposite sex.”
In 2021, LGBT+ Labor called on Duffield to lose the whip and Keir Starmer to suspend her for a consistent pattern of “LGBT-phobic behavior”. Two staff members left Duffield’s office two months apart, with the second woman leaving in October 2020 and both citing the MP’s repeated comments about trans people as the reason.
Duffield’s opinions are, in my view, not only outdated and embarrassing – they are actively harmful.
Transphobia is the fear, hatred, disbelief, or distrust of people who are transgender or who express their gender in ways that do not conform to traditional norms. Don’t Rosie Duffield’s opinions fall into this category, despite her denials?
She insists that trans women are not women and has pushed scaremongering narratives around trans people by using cisgender women-only spaces. She has also dismissed the existence of trans men and non-binary people and publicly supported comments that reduce trans people to dangerous suitors. I can’t see this as anything other than ugly bigotry, and it has consequences.
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Trans people have twice the mortality risk of cisgender men and women, as they are more likely to experience violence, discrimination and homelessness. Trans people are twice as likely to be victims of crime. According to Stonewall, 41% of trans people and 31% of non-binary people have experienced a hate crime or incident based on their gender identity in the past 12 months.
Trans youth are also much more likely than their cisgender peers to attempt suicide, with 45% attempting suicide and 92% considering it.
If you deny the identity of transgender people, reject the existence of non-binary people and accept hateful and bigoted comments about trans people, as Duffield seems to do, statements on Twitter about your commitment to “actively fighting for all human rights” ring rather hollow.
Trans rights are human rights. If your activism (or your feminism) excludes trans and non-binary people, then it doesn’t make sense. And Eddie Izzard deserves better than being used as a punchline by the likes of Rosie Duffield.