Members of the trans community have said they were “appalled” by Rishi Sunak’s “dehumanising” comment made in the House of Commons when the mother of murdered trans teenager Brianna Ghey was visiting Parliament.
The Prime Minister accused Sir Keir Starmer of having difficulty in “defining a woman” during an attack on Labour Party U-turns.
Methodist minister Karl Rutlidge, a 39-year-old trans man from Kingston-upon-Thames, south-west London, told the PA news agency: “I haven’t been so angry in a long time, actually.
“It was a cheap jibe at a political opponent. I thought it was actually pretty pathetic as a thing to do.
“I think, actually, the fact that Brianna’s mother happens to be there makes it worse, but it doesn’t mean that it would have been acceptable if she wasn’t.”
Brianna’s father, Peter Spooner, said Mr Sunak should say sorry for the “degrading” and “dehumanising” remark.
Mr Rutlidge added: “Brianna’s father is completely right. It was dehumanising, it was despicable, and of course he should apologise, but more than that, he needs to learn why it’s a problem.
“It’s not a problem purely because Brianna’s mother was potentially in the chamber at that point. It’s a problem because it’s stoking bigotry, and it’s incredibly offensive and, yes, dehumanising.
Describing what he would say if he could speak directly to Mr Sunak, Mr Rutlidge added: “That actually, I am as much of a valuable human being made in the image of God – to use Christian theological kind of language – as he is, and to have my humanity as a trans person dragged through the mud… is just wrong.”
Trans woman Wendy, 19, who did not wish to provide her surname, told PA that Mr Sunak’s comment was a “basic disregard for decency”.
She said: “(It was) frankly, incredibly ignorant and kind of insane, almost, that he thinks it’s appropriate.”
The university student based in Cambridge thinks Mr Sunak should apologise but she “wouldn’t really believe that he actually meant it if he did”.
“I think it’s the most basic decency he could possibly offer,” she said.
“Especially the way a lot of Conservatives talk about trans people, trans women in particular, we’re framed as predators and dangerous to be around and that makes people violent to us.”
Mr Sunak’s comment prompted fierce criticism from across the political spectrum, with Sir Keir responding to the Prime Minister: “Of all the weeks to say that, when Brianna’s mother is in this chamber. Shame.”
Asked to respond to Brianna’s father’s demand for an apology, Mr Sunak insisted his comments had been “absolutely legitimate”.
He said: “If you look at what I said, I was very clear, talking about Keir Starmer’s proven track record of U-turns on major policies because he doesn’t have a plan.”
Downing Street pointed PA to these comments when contacted for a response.