The Police and Crime Commissioner Lisa Townsend says she felt compelled to speak out on behalf of the women in Surrey who have contacted her after an interview was published this week reflecting her views on gender and the Stonewall organisation.
The Commissioner said that concerns about gender self-identification had been first raised with her during her successful election campaign and continues to be raised now.
Her perspective on the issues and her fears over the direction that the Stonewall organisation is taking were first published on the Mail Online over the weekend.
She said that whilst those views were personal and something she feels passionately about, she also felt she had a duty to raise them publicly on behalf of those women who had expressed their concerns.
The Commissioner said she wanted to clarify that despite what has been reported, she hasn’t, and would not, demand that Surrey Police stop working with Stonewall although she has made her views clear to the Chief Constable.
She has also wanted to express her support for the broad range of work that Surrey Police carry out to ensure they remain an inclusive organisation.
The Commissioner said: “I firmly believe in the importance of the law in protecting everybody, regardless of sex, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation or any other characteristic. Each of us has the right to voice our concerns when we believe a particular policy has the potential for harm.
“I do not believe, however, that the law is clear enough in this area and is too open to interpretation which is leading to confusion and inconsistencies in approach.
“Because of this, I have severe concerns with the stance taken by Stonewall. I want to be clear that I am not opposed to the hard-won rights of the trans community. The issue I have is that I don’t believe Stonewall recognise there is a conflict between women’s rights and trans rights.
“I don’t believe we should be shutting down that debate and should be asking instead how we can resolve it.
“That is why I wanted to air these views on the public stage and speak up for those people who have contacted me. As Police and Crime Commissioner, I have a duty to reflect the concerns of the communities I serve, and if I can’t raise these, who can?”
“I don’t believe we need Stonewall in order to ensure we are inclusive, and other forces and public bodies have clearly also come to this conclusion.
“This is a complex and very emotive topic. I know my views will not be shared by everyone but I believe we only ever make progress by asking challenging questions, and having difficult conversations.”