(Trigger Warning: Descriptions of transphobia. Reader discretion advised.)
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, during his closing remarks at the 2023 Conservative Party Conference on 4 October, stated: "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."
This is not an isolated comment by Sunak, but part of a worrying trend within the UK government.
Just one day before Sunak's speech, Health Secretary Steve Barclay proposed a plan to ban transgender women from being treated in female hospital wards, adding that sex-specific language would be strictly enforced in women's health discussions, as per Sky News.
In no time, the video has gone viral, with LGBTQ+ activists around the world condemning his transphobia.
ICYMI, 1.5 Million Brits Identify as LGB+
In a country where over 1.5 million people (3.2 percent) identify as LGB+, and more than 260,000 (0.5 percent) fall under the trans persons/gender non-binary umbrella, Sunak's views are not just offensive, they are also dangerous.
These comments signal a disregard for the rights and well-being of a significant portion of the population, and deserve all the condemnation they are being met with, point people on social media.
Some handles of X (formerly Twitter) equated Sunak's transphobic views to former British PM Margaret Thatcher's views on homosexuality.
Not the First Time For PM Sunak
Notably, this is not the first time the prime minister has made such public remarks demeaning transgender citizens. In June 2023, the British PM was secretly filmed mocking trans women, in footage shared exclusively with PinkNews.
The leaked footage showed Sunak joking about “women having penises” and making fun of Liberal-Democrat leader Ed Davey, for supporting trans rights.
He said, "...You might have noticed Ed Davey has been very busy. Like me, you can probably see that he was trying to convince everybody that women clearly had penises."
After his derogatory comments were met with laughter, he continued, "You’ll all know that I’m a big fan of everybody studying maths till (they turn) 18, but it turns out that we need to focus on biology.”
The person who leaked the footage told PinkNews, “You wouldn’t make jokes about other marginalised people the way he did about trans people," and also noted how there were several young people in the crowd who were visibly uncomfortable with Sunak's joke.
'Erasing Trans People...'
Such behaviour is not befitting of a public servant, let alone the prime minister of a nation. It shows a fundamental lack of empathy and understanding, a failure to grasp the challenges and discrimination that trans individuals face daily, people pointed on social media.
Critics of Sunak are not only admonishing his harmful views, but also expressing their concern for the safety of trans people in the UK, following these comments.