JK Rowling accuses Keir Starmer of having ‘brass neck’ over transgender issue

The Harry Potter author suggested the Labour leader was part of the problem which had resulted in abuse aimed at people with gender critical views.

JK Rowling has criticised Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer
JK Rowling has criticised Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (Andrew Milligan/PA)

JK Rowling has hit out at Sir Keir Starmer after the Labour leader called for an end to “toxic” debates about transgender issues.

Harry Potter author Rowling has backed Labour MP Rosie Duffield, who has been an outspoken defender of women’s rights and female-only spaces.

Sir Keir, who had previously criticised Ms Duffield for saying “only women have a cervix”, accepted that “biologically, she of course is right about that”.

The Labour leader said his views on gender issues “start with biology” as he backed blocking trans women from female-only hospital wards and prisons.

The Labour leader was speaking as the Government proposed changes to England’s NHS constitution to give patients the right to request to be treated on single-sex wards, with transgender people placed in rooms on their own.

Sir Keir told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “There’s a distinction between sex and gender. The Labour Party has championed women’s rights for a very long time.”

Sir Keir was pressed on whether he would apologise to Rosie Duffield
Sir Keir was pressed on whether he would apologise to Rosie Duffield (Kirsty O'Connor/PA)

Asked if he would now apologise to the Canterbury MP, Sir Keir said: “I don’t want this to go back into this toxic place where everybody is divided.”

But he said: “Rosie Duffield and I get on very well, we discuss a number of issues.

“She’s a much-respected member of the Parliamentary Labour Party and I want to have a discussion with her and anybody else about how we go forward in a positive way.”

Ms Duffield has been highly critical of the way the Labour Party and its leadership has treated her over her views.

Responding to Sir Keir’s interview, Rowling said: “Male politicians who chose to pander to activists issuing violent threats against their own female MPs enabled and emboldened the toxic culture (Sir Keir) now claims to deplore.

“When you’re part of the cause, you’ve got some brass neck putting yourself forward as a cure.”

Ms Duffield appeared to disagree with Sir Keir’s characterisation of their relationship.

Asked online how the MP and Labour leader could get on well when he refuses to meet with her, Ms Duffield replied: “Telepathy?”

Sir Keir suggested Labour would “treat everybody with respect and dignity” when questioned about how he would respond to transgender women who did not want to go on to male hospital wards.

He added: “Where we need to make accommodations, we can make accommodations… As a country, we’re a pretty reasonable, tolerant bunch and most people know that there are a small number of individuals who do not identify with the gender that they were born into.

“Many of them suffer great distress and trauma. And for my part, I’m perfectly happy to say I would treat them, as I would treat anybody, with respect.”