The LGBTQ+ community in the North East and politicians have reacted in horror to what has been described as a "transphobic" comment whilst the mother of murdered transgender teen Brianna Ghey sat in the commons.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community in Chester-le-Street are calling on the Prime Minister to apologise after he uttered what they refer to as a "transphobic" comment relating to what defines a woman.

The Egg Crackers group, which is a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community as well as neurodiverse people has labelled the comment as an "attack" as they call for an immediate apology.

The Northern Echo: Chester-le-Street group The Egg Crackers.Chester-le-Street group The Egg Crackers. (Image: Sarah Caldecott)

In Prime Minister's Questions today (February 7), opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer praised the "unwavering bravery" of Esther Ghey, the mother of murdered teen Brianna, who was sitting in the public gallery.

Brianna, who was openly a transgender woman, was murdered by Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe in February 2023 whose "brutal, planned and sadistic" killing saw them handed life sentences at Manchester Crown Court last week. 

Following a debate between the leaders on NHS waiting lists, PM Rishi Sunak hit out at the Labour leader on broken promises and reportedly changing his position on "defining a woman". 

In response, Keir Starmer criticised the PM, stating: "Of all the weeks to say that, when Brianna's mother is in this chamber - shame.

"Parading as a man of integrity when he’s got absolutely no responsibility."

He added: "I think the role of the Prime Minister is to ensure that every single citizen in this country feels safe and respected, it’s a shame that the Prime Minister doesn’t share that."

The Northern Echo: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was later asked to apologise to Brianna's mother for his "insensitive comment" by Labour MP for Blaydon Liz Twist.

She said: "May I take the opportunity to ask the Prime Minister if he would consider apologising to Brianna Ghey’s mother for his insensitive comment."

Mr Sunak did not directly respond to Ms Twist’s request.

Letty Davidson, who runs The Egg Crackers, has now expressed her disgust at the comment - and has warned of the backlash that could arise from the trans community.

She said: "If a person feels like they are a woman - then they are a woman. There is no definition as to what a woman cannot be based on their looks or body.

"Rishi Sunak's comment will create an absolute uproar in the trans community - and I know people who are going to be very upset about it.

"I do think he should apologise. I think politicians should choose their words carefully, and say things that will benefit all communities."

Sean Hall, who is a trans man and also a member of The Egg Crackers group has labelled Mr Sunak's comment as "transphobic".

"[Rishi Sunak] was spitting transphobic comments in front of a grieving mother whose daughter's killers have just been sentenced," he said.

"A woman is one who identifies as such, a man is someone who identifies as such and a non-binary person is someone who identifies as such.

"To say anything otherwise invalidates trans people... an attack on the trans community is an attack on everyone."

Following Prime Ministers Questions, North East MPs have also slammed Mr Sunak's comment as they believe he must issue an apology. 

City of Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy issued a series of tweets whilst the house was in session, calling the PM's comment "gutter politics".

Ms Foy has now added: "One of the motives in the horrific murder of Brianna Ghey was transphobia. There was also a rise in trans hate crime last year in England and Wales.

"It was shocking, then, that the Prime Minister made a joke about trans people during Prime Minister’s Questions – one of the most widely viewed sessions in Parliament.

"The Prime Minister must now apologise to Brianna’s family. To not do so would further debase his office.

"I would like to express my sincere condolences to Brianna’s family, and reaffirm my support for the trans community in Durham and throughout Britain."

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham said: "It beggars belief that the Prime Minister would try to score a cheap point by using such insensitive and thoughtless language in the House of Commons – but for him to do it whilst the mother of Brianna Ghey was sitting just above him in the public gallery shows how low he has sunk in his desperate attempt to survive politically. 

"It was also deeply distressing to trans people and illustrates what must be his deep rooted prejudices.  We won’t make progress on equality issues as long as the leader of the country behaves in such a way. 

"He must issue an unconditional apology."


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Bishop Auckland MP, Dehenna Davison later took to Twitter to express her disappointment over the Prime Minister's comments, stating "our words in the House resonate right across our society, and we all need to remember that."

Number 10 has now declined repeatedly to apologise for Mr Sunak’s language and said it was part of a “legitimate” criticism of Labour.

Mr Sunak’s press secretary said: “If you look back on what the Prime Minister was saying, there was a long list of u-turns that the leader of the opposition had been making.

“I don’t think those U-turns are a joke, it is quite serious changes in public policy. I think it is totally legitimate for the Prime Minister to point those out.”