Gillian Keegan changes transgender stance and agrees men can sometimes become women

gillian keegan changes transgender stance and agrees men can sometimes become women

To gain a gender recognition certificate, a person must have a signed report from a specialist doctor showing they have 'gender dysphoria' - VLADIMIR VLADIMIROV/E+

Gillian Keegan has said men who undergo gender reassignment are women.

Last month, the Education Secretary told The Telegraph that she would no longer say that trans women were women, and her understanding of the issue had “evolved”.

But in an interview with Radio 4’s Today programme, she said it depended whether the person was self-identifying as the opposite sex or whether they had actually obtained a gender reassignment certificate from a doctor.

To gain a gender recognition certificate, a person must have a signed report from a specialist doctor showing they have “gender dysphoria”, which means they are distressed because of the mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.

In the first instance, that person was not a woman, but in the second the person was, if only in a legal sense, indicated Ms Keegan.

Grilled on the subject by new Today presenter Emma Barnett, Ms Keegan said she had “always known that trans women aren’t women”.

She said there was a “huge difference between self-identification, people who want to identify but still have a male body, biologically are male: and then there are a very, very small number of people … who do have and have had gender reassignment and reassignment surgery”.

Asked if she would say that people who had gone through gender reassignment were women, she said: “Well, this is what we should say. I personally believe if you have gone to that level of, you have got the gender recognition, you have got the reassignment, then you are legally and medically allowed to say that you are a woman.”

Ms Barnett put it to her: “Those who’ve had their bodies changed, you would say are women, those trans women are women, that’s what you’re delineating between.”

Ms Keegan replied: “I think that’s a sensitive way to handle it.”

gillian keegan changes transgender stance and agrees men can sometimes become women

Ms Keegan unveiled her department's new guidance on relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) in the Commons - THOMAS KRYCH/ZUMA PRESS WIRE/SHUTTERSTOCK

She was also asked how widespread the teaching of “inappropriate” material about gender identity was in schools.

“I don’t think it’s widespread, I mean, I don’t know because you know, it’s not something that we’ve gone and done a particular survey of,” she said.

In an at-times-tense exchange, Ms Barnett put it to Ms Keegan that it was “staggering” that the education secretary did not know how widespread the issue was.

Ms Barnett said: “It’s staggering that you are across education but you have no idea how widespread this problem is. It matters because teachers, some of them say, this isn’t an issue at all. You’ve even almost just said that yourself and you’ve just created silence around one of these issues.”

Later on Thursday, Ms Keegan unveiled her department’s new guidance on relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) in the Commons.

It says children must not be given sex education before the age of nine, and that gender ideology should not be treated as fact.

The Education Secretary said gender identity “should not be taught in schools at any age”.

“Following disturbing reports from parents of pupils being taught inappropriate content in schools, and requests from schools who wanted more clarity on when to teach certain topics, the Prime Minister and I decided to bring forward the review into RSHE,” she said.

Core values

Ms Keegan said the guidance was “underpinned by three core values”.

She said: “One, parents have a right to know what their children are being taught. Two, teachers are there to teach children facts, not push the agendas of campaign groups. Three, schools should not teach about the contested issue of gender identity, including that gender is a spectrum.”

Catherine McKinnell, Labour’s shadow education minister, said: “Teaching children about the facts of the world in which they grow up must include an understanding that there are people who are transgender, that people can go through a process of change of their gender, and that the law provides for that.”

Sir John Hayes, the Conservative former minister, told the Commons: “Darkness falls when very young children are forced to know too much too early and their innocence is stolen.

“Will the secretary of state look again at the third-party organisations often invited into schools – sometimes witlessly, sometimes carelessly – for they steal children’s innocence in the name, very often, of diversity and inclusion, and in so doing promote, promulgate and perpetuate every kind of horror?”

Ms Keegan’s comments on trans women differ from the view she expressed in 2020, when she said: “Trans women are women and trans people deserve equal and fair access to healthcare, safe spaces, and opportunities, as well as to live their life with dignity.”

The statement was made in response to a question from an LGBT forum in her constituency of Chichester.

She told The Telegraph that she had changed her position.

“Since becoming an MP and later a minister I have learnt a huge amount more about this complex and challenging subject,” she said.

“At the time of writing that response, I didn’t have any direct experience of this topic and took advice on how best to respond, given the complexities surrounding individual cases. Having now spoken to experts and professionals, like many, my understanding has evolved.

“I have since been crystal clear about my concerns that women are being erased in this debate, and have always been clear that women do not have, nor have ever had, a penis.”

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