We owe a great debet today to our trans and non binary friends, collgues, comrads and relitives … Today is for youMaggie Chapman MSP
However, it clearly wasn’t without issues, the relatively unknown Ash Regan resigned as minister despite not having the guts to chat with the first minister about any concerns she had, before doing so.
Ash wasn’t alone in voting against the bill, six other SNP MSPs joined her and rebelled.
Stephanie Callaghan, Fergus Ewing, Kenneth Gibson, Ruth Maguire, Michelle Thomson and unsurprisingly, Mr 1800’s himself, John Mason.
Despite having stood on a manifesto of supporting reforming the GRA, all seven of these MSPs have betrayed the LGBTQI+ community.
The seven SNP MSPs, as well as most of the Conservative MSPs voted against the bill must have had their reasons?
Tess White, gave us a succinct list of the issues the Tories and others have raised about the GRR.
They are Data use, Competitive Sport, Barriers facing women and the Criminal justice system.
Let’s start with the last item on the list, the criminal justice system. There have been concerns raised that “bad faith actors” i.e. predatory cis men, pretending to be trans women, Will get a GRC and demand to be housed in a women’s prison.
However this isn’t how it works. No trans person has the right to demand to be housed in any particular gendered prison. Instead, each trans person held in prison is individually risk assessed. You may not accept my word for this. So let’s look at the evidence given to the Committee by the Deputy Chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service, James Kerr.
Pam Gosal, Tess’s colleague, asked James this exact question.
Rachael Hamilton, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party MSP, and member of the committee, In her response to the bill. Claimed that one of the big issues will be increasing access to “access to single-sex spaces”. Again claiming that bad faith actors will abuse the situation.
However, Sex Matters, an organisation widely regarded as transphobic by trans people. Made it clear in their evidence to the committee, that far from opening the door to people abusing a GRC, holding a GRC makes no difference to if a person can access a single-sex space or not.
While Tess, may have questions about data collection, Rachael Hamilton defiantly shouldn’t. She got to ask Dr Kevin Guyan of the University of Glasgow, an expert in the intersection of data and identity, about this. He noted that in general when people collect data and ask about sex, they are not asking about self-id sex. I as a trans woman, will identify myself as a woman regardless of if I have a GRC or not.
So the idea that liberalising the rules over who can apply for and be granted a GRC would, in any way, affect data collection is clearly nonsense.
As with other issues mentioned here, these concerns were addressed by the committee. Who heard overwhelming evidence from LEAP Sports Scotland and SportScotland, that reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, will not have any effect on sports.
Perhaps one of the most common arguments here is how reforming the GRA will have a negative effect on cis women. Thankfully the committee got to speak to Catherine Murphy, Executive Director, Engender; Sandy Brindley, Chief Executive, Rape Crisis Scotland; Naomi McAuliffe, Scotland Programme Director, Amnesty International Scotland; Jen Ang, Director of Policy and Development, JustRight Scotland.
None of these organisations are new. They are all extremely well-regarded, and have been working in the area of women’s rights for a long time.
Catherine Murphy, pointed out that as a feminist policy and advocacy organisation that has worked for 25 years to promote equality between women and men, the Gender Recognision Reform bill isn’t their main focus, they have investigated it because some people have tried to say women rights would be negatively affected by the GRR. Catherine said quite clearly that Engender came to the conclusion that far from Trans and women’s rights being in conflict rather they “see the path to equality for women and Trans people as deeply interconnected and dependent on shared efforts to dismantle patriarchally intersecting systems of oppression that impose barriers to full equality”.
Rape Crisis Scotland, which was founded back in 1976, stated point blank that there is no service in Scotland that requires a Gender Recognition Certificate to access trans people, and where services are women only they don’t require any kind of documentation or proof, all they require is that a person self-ids.
Naomi and Jen also fully support the Scottish government’s proposals and went as far as to commend the Scottish government’s lead in the UK on this.
Given this support from world-famous, well-known women’s groups, the position, that updating the Gender Recognition Act will have no negative effect on women’s rights stands apart from how the issue is portrayed by some in the media.
So what of the organisations, like Sex Matters and For Women Scotland? These new campaign groups, which formed very recently (For Women Scotland was founded in 2018, and Sex Matters even more recently) are very anti-trans and have links with the far and religious right in the US. Hardly organisations we want interfering with Scottish Politics.
Yet they are the only organisations that the Scottish Tories are actually interested in speaking to. I personally have invited the North-east’s conservatives to meet trans people or myself as a constituent, yet never received a reply from them.
Of course for space and time reasons, I’ve had to select the responses I’ve put here, however, I’ve nothing to hide and I would encourage people to watch the committee meeting in full and get a sense of how strong the evidence is.
The committee met From early May till October. However, due to the nature of the questions, only some of the videos are allowed to be shown.
However, there are eight days worth of evidence you can access.
If you review the evidence and I hope you do. I’m sure you will be as puzzled as I am as to why the Tories, couldn’t support the bill.
Thank you to my good friend Gemma Clark for the featured image used in this post.