Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has reaffirmed his commitment to equality after a turbulent week for the party’s relations with Wales’ trans community.

On Thursday, March 4, Owen Hurcum, who is deputy mayor of Bangor City Council, stood down as a candidate on Plaid’s North Wales regional list.

Owen, who identifies at genderqueer, said it was not possible to share a platform with Plaid MS Helen Mary Jones who has previously appeared at events with anti-trans activists.

In a statement published on Twitter, Owen said: “I cannot in good conscious [sic] stand for a party that continues to platform those who promote transphobia.”

Ms Jones, who is standing in the Senedd election for the party in Llanelli, has previously shared a platform with Woman’s Place UK (WPUK), a group that many in the trans community believe to be transphobic.

Speakers at WPUK events have argued the trans people should be denied access to women-only spaces and campaigned against aspects of the Gender Recognition Act that would have allowed someone to self-identify their gender without a medical diagnosis.

Some who have been given a platform by the organisation have publicly stated views considered hostile to the trans community. 

The group had to move an event in Cardiff at the last minute in 2018 following a protest by Pride Cymru and Wales Equality Alliance.

In their statement, Owen said Jones has made no effort to learn about the trans community and has not apologised for sharing social media posts by accounts that have been actively threatening.

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Speaking to The National, Owen said: “If this was racism, Plaid would have shut it down immediately.

“I tried to sort this internally with other candidates, but in the end, we had to leave.

“As long as the party allows this issue to fester, then I felt the best way to draw attention to this was to resign.

“It is very easy for people to say there are bigger problems, but when you are trans or non-binary, you face this every day. This is happening today and we cannot push that down the line.”

The National Wales: Owen Hurcum stood down as a Plaid Cymru Senedd candidate on ThursdayOwen Hurcum stood down as a Plaid Cymru Senedd candidate on Thursday

Owen is not the first Plaid Cymru member to leave the party over concerns about Jones.

In December, BBC Wales reported that a number of members quit after she shared a tweet criticising those who were equating discrimination faced by the trans community with the Holocaust, a tweet that was later deleted.

Speaking to The National following Owen’s resignation from the party, leader Adam Price refused to be drawn on whether Jones should apologise, also refusing to comment on Owen’s decision to stand down as a candidate.

Instead, Price said: “We clearly need to address concerns from the trans community.

“I want to make clear at the heart of our manifesto we will have a clear, radical and unequivocal commitment to trans equality.

“Our party has passed policy that clearly says, as a point of principle, trans women are women, trans men are men.

“It was Plaid Cymru that demanded the creation of a gender identity clinic, it was in our manifesto in 2016. We insisted on it as part of a budget agreement with the Labour government.

“Every candidate standing for Plaid Cymru will be standing on that manifesto and have an unequivocal commitment to those policies on trans equality.

“I want us to be as inclusive and welcoming a space to all of Wales’ communities.”

Mr Price also said he wants all elected members to undergo a trans awareness course carried out by organisations recognised by the trans community.

In a potential nod to Helen Mary Jones’ activities on social media, Mr Price said the party must have a definition of transphobia “so we have absolute clarity of what is unacceptable to say, share or indeed follow”.

The National Wales: Plaid Cymru's candidate for Llanelli, Helen Mary Jones. Source: Huw Evans AgencyPlaid Cymru's candidate for Llanelli, Helen Mary Jones. Source: Huw Evans Agency

Responding to Mr Price’s comments, Shash Appan, co-founder of Trans Aid Cymru, said the party “must not pay lip service to the trans community while refusing to respond to their real concerns”.

Appan said: “If this was racism it would be stamped out immediately but there is a blind eye turned toward transphobia.

“There is a minimisation of the issue and you cannot have somebody who holds those views in a party while also claiming to be a proponent of trans right.

“The inaction shows that transphobia is systemic within Plaid Cymru, there is a lack of diversity, and it’s a reality that a trans person of colour like me doesn’t feel represented in the party.

“It is a huge concern that a potential independent Wales may not be welcoming to people like me.”

When asked whether Helen Mary Jones would be responding to allegations of transphobia, a Plaid Cymru spokesperson said: “Plaid Cymru has a clear and unequivocal policy, backed by its National Council, that trans people have the inalienable right to live free from prejudice, discrimination and persecution.

“Plaid Cymru supports equality for trans people and will continue to campaign to have the right to legislate on equality matters devolved, so that the Senedd will have the appropriate power to protect trans people and others who suffer prejudice and discrimination.”

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Editor's note: This article has been amended to reflect that the Woman's Place UK Cardiff meeting was moved rather than cancelled and to correct the reference to the organisation as 'Women's Place UK'.