Boris Johnson says women cannot be born with a penis as he backs decision on swimming

Dr Webberley discusses transgender children in 2017

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The Prime Minister said he sees “no reason to dissent” from a ruling by World Swimming, barring trans athletes who have reached male puberty from competing in women’s events. Only those who transitioned before the age of 12 will now be permitted to take part in these competitions.

Mr Johnson said: “It’s very, very important that as a society we should be as understanding of everybody else as possible. I’ve always stood for that.

“When you start to move from issues of sexuality to issues of gender, you start to raise particular problems.”

He added: “These are all very difficult problems and you have to be very sensitive.”

Writer and trade unionist Paul Embery insisted the question should not have been up for debate in the first place.

He wrote in a post on Twitter: “That the Prime Minister can state such a basic biological fact and it is considered major news should tell us just how far down the rabbit hole we have descended.”

The debate is relatively fresh, with such declarations having been unimaginable just a few decades ago, yet is now the cause of much contention both in the UK and across much of the West.

On one side, it is insisted that trans women are women, meaning there is no issue with them competing in women’s sport.

The other argues that those born male have an unfair advantage against women who have not transitioned and so creates an un-level playing field.

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The scope of the debate extended further still after the US Supreme Court last week voted to overturn Roe v Wade, a decision which the Guardian, among other publications, insisted would impact women “and other people who can become pregnant”.

Dr Mireille Pouget, a retired practitioner in lifelong and experiential learning, insisted in a post on Twitter that publications should “stop the PC language”, stressing that “it’s exactly how women lose their rights altogether”.

The debate over trans women in women’s sport was stoked after US trans woman swimmer Lia Thomas competed in the NCAA women’s 500-yard freestyle swim.

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Thomas ranked 554th when competing as a man against other men in the 2018-19 200 freestyle, and 65th in the men’s 500 freestyle, according to Swimming World Magazine.

But Thomas then ranked first against biological female competitors in this year’s women’s 500 freestyle.

Asked whether a woman can be born with a penis, Mr Johnson responded: “Not without being a man.”

Sir Keir Starmer has been less willing to mark the distinction when pushed on the matter.

The Labour leader said that his backbencher Rosie Duffield’s claim “only women can have a cervix” was “not right”.

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