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Trans row as Tory deputy chair calls Green candidate 'man in a wig'

Melissa Poulton
Melissa Poulton is the Green Party candidate for Bromsgrove

A Tory deputy chairman has denied being transphobic after claiming the Green Party “don’t know what a woman is” after it fielded a trans woman in a neighbouring constituency.

Rachel Maclean, who was appointed to her role two weeks ago, said she had apologised to Melissa Poulton after being accused of playing “dog whistle” politics.

Ms Poulton, a trans woman, will attempt to take the seat of Bromsgrove at the next general election, currently the seat of former chancellor Sajid Javid. Mrs Maclean has been the MP for Redditch, which is just south of the constituency, since 2017.

Melissa Poulton
Melissa Poulton is the Green Party candidate for Bromsgrove - Green Party

Mrs Maclean, the Conservative’s deputy chair for women, is reported to have shared a post on X, formerly Twitter, that described Ms Poulton as a “man who wears a wig and calls himself a ‘proud lesbian’”.

She added her own comment: “While the Greens don’t know what a woman is, my Worcestershire neighbours the people of Bromsgrove certainly do.”

Her original post on X has since been deleted.

The Redditch MP said she had apologised for “any offence” caused to the Green candidate, but added: “I have not and will not apologise for my comments relating to the Green Party’s extreme policies on gender and self-ID ideology.

“Of course everyone should be free to live their lives and fulfil their potential regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity and to have the confidence and the freedom to be themselves.

“We should always have conversations relating to these issues in a respectful way, but there is a clear difference between sex and gender and I will not shy away from speaking up about those differences.

“That is why I am clear that the Conservative Party is the only party that understands what a woman is, and will fight in the face of a barrage of criticism to stand up for women’s rights.”

Rachel Maclean
Rachel Maclean refuses to apologise for her comments - UK Parliament/PA

Ms Poulton accused Mrs Maclean of making transphobic remarks and playing “childish games” when interviewed by the BBC.

She said: “Without a shadow of a doubt it is a transphobic comment, it’s dog whistling at the finest.

“If she wants to play games like that then I think that’s up to her. We’ll see what happens at the ballot box I think on that quote really.”

“It’s just childish games… from a government party is going to be out of office come the next general election.”

A Green Party spokesman told The Telegraph: “The Green Party believes that trans people have a right to play a full part in the civic life of this country and that includes holding political office.

“We deplore any attempts to use the issue of trans rights as a culture war issue.”

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