Sir Keir Starmer has criticised Scottish Labour for still supporting self-ID.

He insisted that there needs to be some form of medical process for anyone looking to have their acquired gender legally recognised.

That's despite just two years ago promising that he would scrap the need for a trans person to obtain a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria before being eligible for a gender recognition certificate.

The Labour leader said the UK party’s recent U-turn was a result of the controversy surrounding the Gender Recognition Reform Bill passed by the Scottish Parliament last December.

READ MORE: Labour rules out self-id in U-turn on gender recognition reform

The change of position on reforms of the Gender Recognition Act were announced on Monday in a column by Anneliese Dodd’s, the party’s shadow secretary of state for women and equalities.

She said the party would not make the same “mistakes” as MSPs did and would keep “the requirement to obtain a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.”

Responding to the column, Scottish Labour’s Social Justice spokesperson Paul O’Kane said the party north of the border was “committed to modernising and reforming the outdated and intrusive Gender Recognition Act, as well as ensuring exemptions in the Equality Act are upheld.”

“Scottish Labour continues to support the de-medicalisation of the process in Scotland,” he added.

Appearing on a BBC Radio 5 phone-in, Sir Keir was asked both to say what a woman is and to explain his party’s position.

“Look, firstly, a woman is an adult female,” he said. “So let's clear that one up.”

He said the party had been in Nottingham over the weekend for the three day National Policy Forum “where the Labour Party grinds through its policy.”

“And at the end of that, we have agreed policy that came out at about three o'clock on Sunday on a whole range of issues, including on gender recognition.

“And it gave us the chance to reflect on what happened in Scotland recently in relation to gender recognition. And to be clear that we want to modernise the legislation.”

When it was put to him that Scottish Labour disagrees with him and were continuing to back de-medicalising the process, Sir Keir replied: “Yeah, we don't agree. We don't think that self identification is the right way forward.”

He added: “We've set out that we want to modernise the process, get rid of some of the indignities in the process, keep it a medical process.

“And we've always said and continued to say, and on Sunday, when we completed our policy forum, it allowed us to be clear that there should be safe spaces for women, particularly in relation to violence against women and girls.

“When I was director of public prosecutions, I spent a lot of time dealing with cases of violence against women and girls, and therefore feel very strongly about safe spaces for women.”

Asked if he was saying transwomen were disproportionately likely to be violent in this situation, he replied: “No, I think it's more that biological women who have been subject to violence against women and girls want a safe space where they can feel that they are properly supported and protected.”

READ MORE: Sarwar refuses to criticise Keir Starmer over gender reforms concerns

Meanwhile, both the Scottish Conservatives and the Scottish Greens have urged Scottish Labour to clarify their position.

Scottish Tory deputy leader Meghan Gallacher has written to Anas Sarwar. She said: “In the wake of UK Labour’s apparent screeching U-turn on gender self-ID policy, voters in Scotland are entitled to know if Anas Sarwar still supports the SNP’s reckless GRR Bill.


“Some Labour MSPs have doubled down on their support for it in response to Anneliese Dodds’ article, but there has been a deafening silence from their leader."


Scottish Green equality spokesperson Maggie Chapman has written to Scottish Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Ian Murray.

She asked him if the party's MPs would "support the self-identification principle, like the vast majority of your party’s MSPs did, or would they be expected to support the far more conservative and medicalised route advocated for by Annaliese Dodds?”

READ MORE: LETTERS: The solid and moral Starmer is the only man for the job



Earlier this year, Holyrood's Gender Recognition Reform Bill was blocked by Alister Jack.

For the first time in the history of devolution, he used section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 to prevent the Bill from gaining royal assent. He said the UK Government had concerns that the new law would have an “adverse impact” on UK-wide equalities legislation.

The Scottish Government is seeking a judicial review of that decision. It is due to be heard in court in September.