More questions than answers

What happened when @crit_gen met one of her MSPs to talk gender reforms? It seems even those supporting reform in Scotland are unconvinced by the legislation but willing to look the other way at its obvious and devastating consequences for women and girls

With the vote imminent on GRA reform in Scotland, I’ve been attempting to meet with as many of my MSPs as possible, given that my email questions have either been ignore or replied to with copy-and-paste answers.

I thought I’d share details of the meeting I had with SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor. I didn’t take notes during the meeting so I’ve paraphrased in some places.

I attended the meeting accompanied by Julie, my good friend and fellow women’s rights campaigner.

We started by asking about which of the following interpretations of the Equality Act was the right one.

Definition 1

Referring to single sex exceptions in the Equality Act 2010:

“In practice this means trans people can be excluded from single-sex services in some circumstances, where it is proportionate and justifiable.”

  • Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, Scottish Parliament Chamber, 03 March 2022

Definition 2

Referring to Equality Act 2010:

“My submission on that is by reference of section 9 of GRA, if a person obtains full GRC, their gender becomes for all purposes the acquired gender and if their gender is that of female, their sex becomes that of a woman. Framing submissions in that way, I adopt GRA language. It’s for all purposes the GRC has that effect. That person’s sex becomes that of a woman and she will share that PC with other women.”

  • Ruth Crawford KC on behalf of the Scottish Government, For Women Scotland v Lord Advocate and Scottish Ministers, 10 November 2022

Fulton MacGregor replied: “Well, obviously the first one.”

We asked: “Why is the Scottish Government arguing the second interpretation in court?”

There was no answer.

Court in the act

We asked: “What happens if the court finds that a GRC changes someone’s sex for all purposes? How can you protect single-sex spaces then?”

There was no answer.

“So if the court finds that a GRC is changes sex for all purposes, thus single-sex services will no longer be single sex, will you vote against the Bill?”

“Errr, umm” is the response.

He then asked: “When will the decision on that court case be available?”

We replied: “Tomorrow.”

He said (weakly): “Oh, I didn’t realise that.”

“Your silence will not protect you’

We discussed the evidence the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee (of which Mr MacGregor is a member) had heard as Mr MacGregor was confident that the process was robust.

We asked why the women self-excluding from services because they had become mixed-sex were not invited to give evidence. He couldn’t answer.

We asked why Professor Wintemute, an original signatory of the Yogyakarta Principles who has since changed his mind, wasn’t asked to give evidence. He couldn’t tell us.

He said most of those giving evidence were in agreement with the proposals. We made the point that given anyone who doesn’t agree with the proposals receives abuse, it wasn’t that significant.

We highlighted the abuse we had both received online and in person due to the opposition to the Bill. He was very sorry about that abuse and confidently asserted that was why he didn’t say much about these things online because it was toxic. We asserted that politicians staying out of the debate helped make it toxic.

We asked him why he had never publicly condemned the abuse meted out to his female colleagues. We pointed out that staying silent while others are being abused was precisely the kind of behaviour that encouraged continued threats and harassment. We named the members of his party who have encouraged the abuse of women opposed to GRA reform. He looked sheepish for a moment.

When safeguarding is binned

Next up, prisons. We asked whether he was concerned that a 6ft 5inch male sex offender who battered a fellow male prisoner was an appropriate person to be housed in the female prison estate?

Definite answer this time. No.

Was the risk-assessment process working? No, it wasn’t.

We asked whether the women in that prison were at risk. No answer.

We asked whether allowing any male to get a GRC would exacerbate this problem. No answer.

He did point out he had put forward an amendment that would prevent prisoners from getting GRCs. We did point out to him this was voted down and other amendments would likely be too. We pointed out that if we can’t rely on the Scottish Prison Services to do appropriate risk assessments, then perhaps women’s prisons should not include any males.

He responded that he’d tried to introduce a bit of safeguarding. We responded that a bit of safeguarding will always create loopholes – better to have complete safeguarding than rules that can be exploited.

His main line of argument through the discussion on prisons was that men were already in women’s prisons so a GRC made no difference, whilst also agreeing that some men being in women’s prisons was awful.

None so blind

Mr MacGregor continued to say these measures were applicable to trans people only, and we pointed out a GRC would be open to anyone not simply those who are trans. He didn’t think just anyone would apply for a GRC, just trans people.

Asked if he considered a cross-dresser was a trans person, he said no, but he didn’t explain how he can make the distinction.

We asked him if Katie Dolatowski (the 6ft 5ins male prisoner referred to above) was a trans person or a cross-dresser. He said he couldn’t judge and that was down to Katie. So they are putting a law in place that recognises a person’s self-image? No response.

We next brought up the problems with the current PVG system, which asks transgender people to voluntarily disclose their previous history. He argued this was not the case. We presented him with the executive summary of this report and give him time to read it.

“Ah, ok,” he said.

I think that was him agreeing with us that there was a loophole.

“But this is outside the scope of the Bill,” he stated.

“But you are giving anyone access to a GRC and the section 22 privacy protections,” we countered.

A simple declaration?

We moved on to provision of single-sex intimate services and care. Julie sadly had to explain that she was abused as a child ( I absolutely hate that women have to share their experience of abuse just to try and hammer home the implications of their policies and legislation).

Julie detailed how she would be unable to receive intimate care or healthcare from a male. Mr MacGregor sympathised with her. We detailed a recent story of a male nurse recently convicted of taking photographs under the gowns of female patients. We asked if this individual had had a GRC and women asked for a female nurse, would this have given him access to more women? No answer.

We pointed out our sex was a good predictor when assessing criminality, in particular sex crimes. He agreed. We asked then why we were allowing people to opt out of that on the basis of signing a declaration. No answer.

We asked how patients could be assured of an actual female care provider if they asked for it, given employers are not allowed to reveal that some people registered as female employees are actually male. We asked him to consider the scenario where a woman goes for a smear test, asks for a female and then, once in the room, realises the nurse doing the examination is actually male. He looked uncomfortable at this point.

No limits

His argument was that this was a problem with the current GRA system too, therefore this issue wasn’t exactly within the scope of the reform legislation. We agreed this was a problem with GRA, but we pointed out the diagnosis of gender dysphoria had limited applications to approximately 5,000 people. There will be no limits to the amount of applications with the proposed system.

We used the example of Barbie Kardashian in Ireland. He is a violent male who threatened to rape his own mother and tore the eyelids off his female social worker. He was denied a diagnosis of gender dysphoria when he attending the Tavistock gender clinic in London. But under the Republic of Ireland’s gender self-identification laws, he now has a GRC and is in a women’s prison.

Mr MacGregor referred to the report the committee had produced that had shown no evidence had been provided of self-ID being abused. We noted that, in Ireland, there are three males now being held in the Limerick women’s prison, one who has to be accompanied by guards at all times.

We pointed to Argentina and California where women have been impregnated by fellow prisoners, where they are handing out condoms to female prisoners. We mentioned Canada where former prisoners reported violent and sexually offending males are in the women’s prison estate harassing, raping and intimidating the female prisoners.

We pointed out no government that has instituted self-ID has an effective way of measuring what impact this policy is having on female women.

No way of knowing?

We asked this key question of Mr McGregor: “If, say, there was an increase of sexual assaults in a space that was previously single sex, how would we be able to tell if those assaults were by males who have a GRC or by females, given that it will be recorded as female on female assaults?”

“It will be impossible,” he said.

“So there is no way of measuring whether this change will impact females adversely if we cannot tell the male females from the female females?”

“Yes, we won’t be able to tell.”

I think I might have said a sweary bad word at this point.

We then had to laugh at the ridiculousness of having to use male females vs female females (it wasn’t a hearty laugh).

Avoiding the issues

We moved on to young people. We asked whether he had read the Cass Review. No, he hadn’t. Neither had either of the Labour MSPs we questioned.

We highlighted the over-representation of autistic, same-sex attracted and those with comorbidities in young people accessing the Tavistock. We highlighted that detransitioners had presented before the Scottish Parliament and their stories were shocking. Mr MacGregor didn’t attend that session despite being on the Equalities Committee.

We pointed out that studies show that 80 percent of young people desist in their transgender identities if not affirmed, that social transition was not a neutral act and could possibly be pushing young people towards medical intervention. We suggested obtaining a GRC was a form of social transition. He agreed but told us that medical issues were outside the scope of the reform.

Exasperated, we suggested continually saying that issues that arise with GRCs being issued on a self-declaration basis was outside the scope of the Bill was failing to recognise the unintended consequences of the Bill they are going to vote for. That making a GRC available to anyone who requests it could well have unintended consequences that wouldn’t have been considered within the scope of the Bill.

How warnings became reality

We asked him if he had read the Hansard entries from the original GRA debate (again, recall that Mr MacGregor is on the committee scrutinising this Bill). “No.”

We pointed out that most of the issues raised by objectors have come to pass. Most of the warnings are now reality. That women have been raped in spaces that were previously considered single sex. That men are now participating in women’s sport at all levels. We asked if he had truly considered the unintended consequences of the Bill that he was going to vote on.

His response: “Blah, blah blah, administrative change, trans people, scope.” (Yes, I’m paraphrasing at this point.)

We also pointed out the SNP often use legislation to send a message. That he should think about what message this Bill sends. That there is no difference between male and female, that women are reduced to a piece of paper.

He did ask us what we would support in the way of amendments. We said the age limited would definitely have to be raised and that the interpretation of the Equality Act would have to unequivocally support the rights of biological women. But even then we felt he shouldn’t vote for it.

Wishful thinking, harsh reality

Mr MacGregor let us into the a little secret near the beginning our conversation. He wished that the GRR bill had never been proposed. We had a solution. He could vote no.

I’m under no illusion that Fulton MacGregor will vote for the Bill. I’m under no illusion that he also believes that sex is real, important and immutable.

He does not believe that some men are women. He fully understands that safeguarding will be made more difficult and that some safeguards are being removed.

In a democratic society, we rely on elected representatives to be our voice, to hear our concerns, to listen to our views, to legislate to improve the lives of all. Can we truly say MSPs in the Scottish Parliament are doing their jobs on our behalf?

3 thoughts on “More questions than answers

  1. This is frightening isn’t it. They know full well that this is a mess and they don’t even understand what they are voting for but they’ll do it anyway because they’re too cowardly and self interested to say anything. It’s just women’s lives, childrens lives, everyone’s mental health, a few rapes etc… nothing for him to concern himself about.

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  2. More of this please . Publish accounts of meetings with MSPs and reveal the level of stupidity and total disdain and disregard for women rights and safeguarding of children. What an embarrassment. My own attempts to engage with eg. Fiona Hyslop MSP include her refusing to answer my questions ; re-directing me to a link to Scottish Ministers for answers and on one occasion showing me the door when I went to speak to her at her surgery saying she had others to see ; refusing to answer the simple question What is a women? and walking away from me with her entourage when she was out meeting the public with the words ” you have emailed me too many times on this issue that I am entitled to close your case”. This ladies and gentlemen is who we are paying to represent us …too lazy and entitled to actually do any critical thinking ..afraid of their own shadows ..just sitting things out till pension time. Name and shame every single one of them. Never forgive never forget.

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