A welcome meeting with the Scottish Government on gender reform ends in disappointment but we continue to resist because #WomenWontWheesht
The Sole Sisters (Women Voting With Our Feet) were this week invited to meet Shona Robison, the Cabinet Secretary who will steer reform of the Gender Recognition Act through the Scottish Parliament.
We made our point that, while we appreciated the invitation, calling it at three days’ notice suggested a less-than-collegiate approach to gathering dissenting views on GRA reform.
The Cabinet Secretary told us reform is essential because being trans is no longer considered a medical issue. However, only the process of gaining a gender recognition certificate will change with any reform by “demedicalising” the process.
Posing questions asked by ordinary women
We asked how the Scottish Government could uphold the protected characteristics in the Equality Act if gender (sex) self-identification is introduced, using examples of questions we had heard from women at our street stalls.
The response was expected but still disappointing. The Cabinet Secretary insisted the violations of single-sex spaces or failure to uphold Equality Act exemptions are nothing to do with GRA reform but simply the result of service decisions made by individual organisations.
We asked: “How will the EqA be upheld if any man who says he’s a woman can access women’s services or be employed to deliver them?”
Shona Robison replied: “I don’t run Scottish Women’s Aid.”
‘Nothing changes’ except everything
She said “nothing changes” with regard to the Equality Act with GRA reform and claimed reform will have “no impact” on anything else in society. We made the point that self-ID is de facto policy in across Scotland even before any reform and is a policy that upends cultural norms and conventions.
She said the Scottish Government is monitoring the effects of self-ID where the policy is already in place but claimed there had been no issues anywhere.
We argue that evidence from Ireland, Canada, Argentina and here in the UK where self-ID is unofficial policy shows that claim to be untrue.
When the issue of transgender prisoners in Scotland’s jail was raised, the Cabinet Secretary suggested we “feed” into the Scottish Prison Service transgender prisoner policy – again, a policy and consequences that have nothing to do with her, guv.
She did concede that concerns about who provides intimate personal care are “valid” but said service providers would use risk assessments. She had no response to our point that if you ignore the reality of sex, risk assessments are worthless.
An exercise in passing the buck
She did promise to respond further to our question about single-sex sport, although again she fell back on the line of “that’s up to individual sporting bodies to decide” where policy is concerned.
We left this meeting with the clear impression GRA reform will be pushed through regardless of any concern or acknowledgement of its impact.
Ministers will wash their hands, Pontius Pilate style, of any fallout by leaving it to individual parts of the state – including schools, hospitals and prisons – to make their own policies and risk assessments.
The Scottish Government does not recognise, understand or accept our concern that sex self-ID is a social engineering project that has already broken down social conventions and allowed gender identity to trump sex at all times.
We are more determined than ever to stop self-ID, which we see as an ideological assault on women’s rights. The gloves are off. This is the fight of our lives.
We will work with anyone who stands against this legislation #no2selfID #BinTheBill #WomenWontWheesht
All in the timing
Shona Robison told us on Thursday morning GRA reform legislation would come before the Scottish Parliament “before the summer”.
Lo and behold, that very afternoon Holyrood Magazine revealed it will, in fact, happen next month. Innocent mistake or deliberately misleading? You decide.
This is why we launched a new fundraiser on Thursday evening. We need all the resources possible to continue resisting this regressive legislation and protect women’s rights. Thank you to everyone who has donated and helped us smash our first target in 24 hours and our second in just three days.
The fundraiser will remain open until February 19. Every penny donated will be used to raise awareness of the threat posed by sex self-ID to women and girls and to call Scotland’s ruling party and politicians to account for failing to take women’s views seriously.