Tories apologise for ‘transphobic’ tweet about Rugby Labour candidate

Rugby Labour candidate Beck Hemsley.
Rugby Labour candidate Beck Hemsley.

A Twitter post was deleted and an apology issued after Rugby Conservatives retweeted a post directed at a Labour candidate which was perceived to be transphobic.

Labour candidate for Dunsmore, Beck Hemsley, contacted the Advertiser after the post was retweeted by Rugby Conservatives.

Mx Hemsley is non-binary – which means they do not identify as male or female and prefer gender neutral pronouns and titles like Mx.

The tweet, which originated from the account of a South Warwickshire Conservative Association member, criticised quotes on an election leaflet which used ‘they’ rather than he or she, and misgendered Mx Hemsley, using the pronoun ‘her’.

The tweet stated: “With only one candidate do all three call her ‘they’? If you are going to manufacture quotes at least do it properly.”

The Rugby Conservatives twitter account then retweeted Mr Hall's comments to their followers.

Mx Hemsley said: “I would like to give the person who wrote the tweet the benefit of the doubt. I can only assume they (note the singular pronoun) were acting out of ignorance.

"That said, transphobia (whether unconscious or deliberate) can be incredibly harmful to transgender people, be they male, female or non-binary.”

When challenged, the Conservatives apologised and removed the tweet.

Alex Hall of South Warwickshire Conservatives wrote the tweet. Mr Hall said he did not know Mx Hemsley identified as non-binary.

He said: "As only one candidate is elected in this ward I mistook this to mean that the author had written quotes for a ward where multiple people were up for election and had neglected to alter the ‘plural’ pronoun ‘they’ to a singular pronoun.

"I had not even noticed the candidate describing themselves as non-binary and therefore that the pronoun ‘they’ was in fact entirely appropriate for them.

“I was horrified that someone had misinterpreted it in such a way. I immediately explained my own error, that no offence had ever been intended and apologised for any that was caused as well as deleting the tweet.

"This was immediately accepted by the Rugby Labour Party who followed with a plea to keep the election clean which is something to which we can all aspire.”

Mx Hemsley said they see the tweet as an opportunity to raise awareness of non-binary people.