In what has been seen as a major blow to transgender rights, the British Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has said one must have a vagina to be a woman.
The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, said being a woman is a biological matter.
He said he agreed with his colleague Liz Truss, who is the minister for women and equalities, when she said “women do have vaginas”.
Their comments are a blow to activists campaigning for trans people to get the right to self-identify as their lived gender.
Last autumn the government went back on its promise to change the Gender Recognition Act to allow people to “self-ID”.
Mr Jenrick told Times Radio: “I think there’s a matter of biology, of course, what is a woman.
“I mean absolutely, I agree with Liz Truss. That’s the point that she’s made in the past.
“Undoubtedly, of course, we want to ensure that those people who are trans can live their life comfortably.
“I want everyone to be able to live their life the way they want to and be happy and to find love wherever they can do.
“One does have to be aware of the impact on other people and that means we have to be particularly sensitive in terms of some of those settings that we as a government are responsible for like schools, like hospitals, like prisons.
“One has to tread carefully and think through all of the consequences of this for other members of society.”
Wolverhampton MP Mr Jenrick, 39, was accused online of “transphobia” and told to “stick to [his] day job” over his statement.
But others backed him. One person said: “It’s like saying do you need to have sex to create a baby. It’s obvious that in order to be a biological women you will have a vagina. People calling it transphobic because they don’t like the truth.”