Transgender model Munroe Bergdorf quits Labour role amid racism row
6 March 2018, 09:57
A transgender model has quit her role with a Labour frontbencher amid a row over her past claim "all white people" are racist.
Munroe Bergdorf is stepping down from an LGBT advisory board assembled by shadow women and equalities secretary Dawn Butler.
Her appointment caused controversy last week because of Ms Bergdorf's previous social media comments, which had already led to her being sacked from a L'Oreal advertising campaign last year.
In a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday, the activist described her "great sadness" at her resignation, which she blamed on "endless attacks on my character by the conservative right-wing press and relentless online abuse".
Ms Bergdorf insisted she will "refuse to be painted as a villain", adding: "I wanted my appointment to be something positive and exciting for the community, but instead it has turned into nasty tabloid fodder, blown out of all proportion."
The unpaid role on the LGBT advisory board saw Ms Bergdorf join other activists on the informal, consultative group, which does not have a formal role within the Labour Party.
She added: "I accepted a place on the board because I felt that it would be an exciting and effective way of helping to shed light on issues that I felt were being overlooked and hopefully push needs forward.
"I will not allow myself to be centred in this negative narrative, but more importantly I don't want to stand in the way of the board serving as a positive catalyst for change within the UK's LGBT communities."
She thanked Ms Butler for being "nothing but supportive".
Ms Bergdorf's appointment saw Conservative Party vice chair Helen Grant write to Ms Butler - urging her to "reconsider".
The Tory MP highlighted "concerning language" in Ms Bergdorf's past comments, which included a Facebook post in the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, where an anti-racism protester was killed at a white supremacist rally last year.
At the time, Ms Bergdorf wrote: "Honestly I don't have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes ALL white people."
L'Oreal subsequently announced they had ended their partnership with Ms Bergdorf, their first transgender model in the UK, as her comments were "at odds with our values".
Following the row over her appointment to the Labour advisory board, Ms Bergdorf attempted to explain her previous remarks, including her branding of suffragettes as "white supremacists"; her claim gay Tories are "a special kind of d***head"; and her suggestion "white people are socially conditioned to be racist".
In a string of Twitter posts last week, Ms Bergdorf said: "On gay male Conservatives, whereas the language that I used was strong and perhaps I wouldn't use that turn of phrase now.
"I do continue to be confused by how somebody who identifies as a gay male can actively support a political party such as the Conservatives."
She also claimed the initial conditions placed on female enfranchisement, a centenary being celebrated in the UK this year, "stood in the way of working-class women and largely women of colour".
Seeking to explain her comments "that racism is a system that white people are socialised into", Ms Bergdorf wrote: "I believe that racism isn't always conscious and that yes, society does unconsciously centre and prioritise whiteness, which leads to unconscious bias and ultimately racism."
A spokesperson for Ms Butler MP: "Dawn values diversity of experiences and opinions from a wide range of stakeholders.
"Dawn is committed to challenging all forms of discrimination and will continue consulting her LGBT+ stakeholder group because she believes it is crucial to hear from those with lived experience of prejudice and to develop closer links with the LGBT+ community in her role as shadow minister for women and equalities."
(c) Sky News 2018: Transgender model Munroe Bergdorf quits Labour role amid racism row