Steerpike Steerpike

What is Labour’s position on transwomen in prisons?

Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

The fallout from Scotland’s trans prison debacle continues, raising some awkward questions for Westminster politicians. Many are scrambling to insist that – despite keeping very quiet on the trans issue for years – they were, in fact, never convinced that gender identity should trump biological fact and that women’s rights are paramount.  Even if they didn’t say so during the years when female campaigners saying the same were being hounded and abused.

Lots of the politicians who have recently discovered their long-held but previously unexpressed commitment to women’s safety are from the Labour party. Steve Reed, the Labour shadow Justice Secretary, gave a good example on Good Morning Britain this morning, declaring clearly: ‘Women’s prisons are for biological women.’ Reed was setting out his view that a transwoman who is convicted of sexual crimes should not be housed in female prisons. 

That’s a very clear position and one that lots of feminist campaigners have been asking for from Labour for some time. But it also raises some awkward questions for several of Reed’s Labour colleagues, who have previously insisted that ‘transwomen are women’ meaning that they must be treated as female in all circumstances.

Colleagues such as Lisa Nandy, the Shadow Levelling Up Secretary, for instance.  She has repeatedly insisted that ‘transwomen are women’ and said that male-born offenders have the right to be in women’s prisons:

Does a person who identifies as a woman have the right to be accommodated in a women’s prison?  The answer to that is yes.

Perhaps someone should ask Nandy if she agrees with the Labour Shadow Justice Secretary…

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles


Written by

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

Topics in this article


Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in