06 October 2023

Trans church minister warns community in ‘greater danger’ after Sunak’s comments

06 October 2023

Members of the transgender community have criticised Rishi Sunak’s remarks at the Conservative Party conference, claiming his comments “put trans people in greater danger”.

The Prime Minister weighed in on debates about transgender rights during his speech in Manchester on Wednesday, saying: “We shouldn’t get bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be. They can’t, a man is a man and a woman is a woman. That’s just common sense.”

Methodist minister Dr Karl Rutlidge, 39, who is a transgender man, said he has faced “a difficult few days” following what he described as “transphobic” comments made by Government ministers at the Conservative Party conference.

Mr Rutlidge, who is based in Kingston-upon-Thames, told the PA news agency: “It isn’t just Rishi Sunak who has made transphobic comments.

“Steve Barclay made comments about hospital wards… Suella Braverman made various inflammatory comments… followed by Rishi Sunak effectively dismissing the reality of trans lives and trans identities, which in the context of figures out showing that (transgender) hate crimes have gone up by 11% in the year ending March 2023 is appalling from the person who’s meant to set the tone as our Prime Minister.”

He said that these comments have the potential to empower those “who are already inclined towards transphobic attitudes” and “legitimises, potentially, even violence”.

“I think that having Government politicians make these kinds of comments puts trans people in greater danger,” he added.

“All I want to do is get on with my life with safety and dignity and peace.

“There’s so much more to me than the fact I happen to be trans and it feels like I’m treated like I’m not really a human being, like I’m an issue, and that’s incredibly difficult to deal with.

“I want to say to some of these politicians, ‘come and look me in the eye and talk to me as a real person’, because it just never seems to happen.”

Mr Rutlidge spoke about Brianna Ghey, a 16-year-old trans girl who was found with fatal stab wounds in February, adding that further violence towards the community “will only get worse”.

A transgender civil servant, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that Rishi Sunak’s comments regarding transgender people at the Conservative Party conference are a “distraction” and “emboldening” transphobic people.

He told PA: “I would say the vast majority of people are far more bothered about the fact that their mortgages are doubling, that their food bills are doubling, they’re struggling to heat their homes and put food on the table, as opposed to anything to do with what is essentially other people’s medical history and medical background.”

He claimed Mr Sunak’s speech “emboldens a certain sort of person that wants to be hostile towards us to think that they can be”.

“I’m openly trans on the internet but I’m not in day-to-day life, so no one knows and it’s no one’s business and no one has the right to know,” he said.

He continued: “It’s just pure dog-whistle politics, and they’ve got this distance that they’ve created where they don’t ever meet with any of us face to face.

“It’s all to do with ideology.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The Government has a proud history of advancing LGBT rights and one of the most robust legislative protection frameworks for LGBT people in the world.

“There is no place for hate crime in our society, it does not reflect the values of modern Britain, and we remain committed to ensuring these abhorrent offences are stamped out – which is why we have a robust framework to tackle it wherever it is found.

“However, we are clear that biological sex is fundamentally important to protecting single-sex spaces and providing appropriate healthcare as set out by ministers.”

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