By Rachael Grealish
Members of the Cumbrian LGBTQ+ community held a protest against the Workington MP claiming he is ‘transphobic’.
A protest called ‘Cumbria United’ was held in Workington yesterday, Saturday January 15, by a young trans man from West Cumbria, Asa Pegler, with support from the North Cumbrian group Free Radicals United.
The group were protesting to raise awareness for trans rights and against the area’s MP, Mark Jenkinson, after they claimed he’d posted transphobic comments on Twitter.
In one tweet, Asa pointed out, Mr Jenkinson shared the news a transgender woman would be competing in the women’s weightlifting in the 2020 Olympics and said it ‘makes a mockery’ of the event.
In another tweet Mr Jenkinson says: “No-one is ‘born in the wrong body’, their body is as nature intended. For some people there is a disconnect between their brain and their body. They need support, not castration, mutilation and sterilisation.”
18-year-old Asa said: “Mark Jenkinson does not support the trans community, some of the things he’s posted online are awful and very upsetting.
“Today is about raising awareness for trans rights and Mark Jenkinson doesn’t believe in rights for trans people. But we don’t hate Mark, we just want Mark to educate himself.”
The event was attended by roughly 40 people and had the support of Copeland Labour group as it was attended by the Labour Copeland youth officer, Nathan Martin.
Copeland Labour tweeted about the event saying they were ‘proud’ to support the protest.
The Herdwick News contacted Mr Jenkinson about his views on the events and he was asked about his position on trans rights to which he said people should be ‘free to identify however they wish without interference’ but reiterated he thinks ‘single-sex spaces’ should be ‘protected’.
“Anyone should be free to identify however they wish without interference,” the Conservative MP said.
“It remains a scientific fact that there are two biological sexes, that is indisputable and uncontroversial. It is a fact, as set out by the EHRC and the Equality Act, that there are services that can only be determined through the knowledge of the biological sex of the individual, and there are spaces that should be protected as single-sex spaces.”
Mr Jenkinson also went on to say if any person feels something he has said is transphobic they should report it to police.
He said: “Anything I’ve said that people wish to misconstrue as transphobic, should be reported to the police without hesitation. I don’t intend to waste any of my time commenting on a protest held by Labour Party activists and manned by known local racists.”
Mr Jenkinson said his comment of ‘known local racists’ refers to a photo he saw of someone at the event who had legal issues in the past due to a ‘racist attack’ to which Mr Jenkinson was a witness, he said.
Free Radicals United, the group which supported Asa with the protest, responded to this saying he is incorrect in his statement about the stand being ‘manned’ by these people and was manned by Asa and the group.
A spokesperson said: “Today’s gathering was a show of solidarity for LBGTQ people in West Cumbria.
“Organised by a very brave young trans person who is, like many, tired of seeing Mark Jenkinson’s hostility toward the trans community online.
“It was wonderful to see around 40 people attend and a lot of interest and support from the public. Mark spends a lot of time online spreading opinion that is transphobic.
“We believe Mark Jenkinson to be a dangerously out of step career politician who has little regard for the general public, and a personal bias against trans people.
“At the time of writing we have been told that Mark counted two people at the protest and that the event was manned by the Labour Party and ‘known racists’ these facts are purely fictional.
“True to the style of Boris Johnson he has deflected from the actual issue by creating lies and distractions.”