BoJo Weighs Into Transgender Row, Says 'Facts of Biology' Still 'Overwhelmingly Important'
The UK Prime Minister’s remarks in Parliament on Wednesday came after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was slammed by Harry Potter author JK Rowling for declaring “trans women are women” in an interview, while another opposition MP faced a backlash for backing biological male swimmer Lia Thomas in the NCAA championships against female competitors.
Boris Johnson offered his take on the transgender row, stating in Parliament that the “basic facts of biology” remain “overwhelmingly important” in distinguishing between a man and a woman.
Asked at Prime Minister’s Questions by Tory MP Angela Richardson to “discuss how we can constructively support young people who are experiencing gender distress,” the UK Prime Minister responded by saying:
“I do want to say that I think when it comes to distinguishing between a man and a woman, the basic facts of biology remain overwhelmingly important.”
Johnson added that people keen to “make a transition in their lives” ought to be “treated with the maximum possible generosity and respect”.
The Conservative PM touted the existing “systems in this country that allow that and have done for a long time, and we should be very proud of it”.
Several recent controversial statements by the UK Labour Party members reignited the transgender debate.
When asked to define a woman in an interview with The Times earlier in March, Keir Starmer replied:
“A woman is a female adult, and in addition to that trans women are women, and that is not just my view – that is actually the law… It has been the law through the combined effects of the 2004 [Gender Recognition] Act and the 2010 [Equality] Act. So that’s my view. It also happens to be the law in the United Kingdom.”
In response, Harry Potter novelist JK Rowling criticised Labour’s stance on gender and equality, writing in a tweet that under a Labour government, “today will become We Who Must Not Be Named Day.”
Rowling, accused of "transphobia" by activists and members of the LGBTQ + community after publishing an essay on her website in July 2020, where she argued that biological sex was real, slammed Starmer of "misrepresenting" the Equality Act, and tweeted that the Labour Party could not be “counted on to defend women’s rights.”
Further feeding into the row, Charlotte Nichols, the Labour MP for Warrington, was accused of “abandoning women's rights” after she went on Twitter to support transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.
According to Nichols, those discussing whether biological males should be able to compete in women’s sports were “nastily trying to diminish Lia Thomas's incredible achievement because of lazy transphobia”.
20 March 2022, 13:12 GMT
This triggered a wave of backlash, including from former English Olympics swimmer Sharron Davies, who said the comments were “disappointing” from an MP whose constituents included women.
© AFP 2023 / KATHRYN RILEYUniversity of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas smiles after winning the 100 yard freestyle during the 2022 Ivy League Womens Swimming and Diving Championships at Blodgett Pool on February 19, 2022 in Cambridge, Massachusetts
University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas smiles after winning the 100 yard freestyle during the 2022 Ivy League Womens Swimming and Diving Championships at Blodgett Pool on February 19, 2022 in Cambridge, Massachusetts
© AFP 2023 / KATHRYN RILEY
University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, a biological male, is transitioning to female and this year began competing against women. Thomas, 22, was the first transgender person to win a title at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships in the US.