Transphobes over Scotland

Right at the start of the "Yes Scotland" movement, there was a blog that provided great content on the various things happening on the campaign trail. It was called Wings Over Scotland. Now, the blog is a hub of awful transphobic frothing.

Transphobes over Scotland
Photo by Nikolas Gannon / Unsplash

Years ago, at the start of the "Yes Scotland" movement, there was an independent blog that provided great content and some surprisingly nuanced views on the various things happening on the campaign trail. It was called Wings Over Scotland.

It published a fact book that debunked many of the false claims that the "Better Together" campaign were peddling at the time and it used its massive community to make sure its "Wee Blue Book" ended up in the hands of thousands of households across the country.

Now, the blog is a hub of awful transphobic frothing about Scotland's new Gender Recognition Reform Bill in specific, as well as general "women are under attack" and "trans women want to perv on your kids" dog-whistles.

At the same time, the only newspaper in Scotland that takes a pro-independence stance is producing puff pieces that defend the blog and its owner, claiming they help keep the SNP honest by challenging their views.

By giving any publicity to the idea that being "gender-critical" is OK, The National has (in my opinion) severely damaged its reputation. While it is absolutely right and proper that everyone can have their views on political topics and that all sides of a debate are heard in the correct place; some topics should not be debatable.

One of those topics is the basic dignity of any human being and the right that all humans have to live our own lives free of undue burden by our Government or society.

This was the view that the Scottish Government took when it legalized equal marriage in 2014, superseding the already established Civil Partnership legislation from the 2000s. At the time there was a lot of loud opposition  from minority groups like The Kirk, right-wing parts of the SNP, other political parties, and the sliver of society that thought it would be a bad thing.

Of course the world did not end, our society didn't decay into an amoral morass of loose sex, child predation and bestiality. In fact, life got better for the people that wanted to get married. The people that didn't want to enter into a same sex marriage were still free to not enter into one.

Fast forward to today from 2014, and TERFs like Joanna Cherry and JK Rowling, as well as  ideologues like Wings Over Scotland's Stuart Campbell are spreading similar claims about the Gender Recognition Reform Bill that is currently working its way through the Scottish Parliament.  

The reforms proposed in the bill are very mild. They will remove some of the degrading bureaucratic and medical barriers that Trans people currently have to go through in order to have their gender legally recognised, as well as making this small legal step to affirm someone's gender more accessible by opening it up to people from age 16.

This means that from when someone turns 16, they will be able (after 6 months of living in their true gender identity) to get their legal documentation and name changed to one that matches their gender identity.

The sticking point for the opponents is that the bill will allow Trans people to make this statutory declaration that they intend to live in their new gender for the rest of their life. It also shortens the time period that this can happen from 2 years to 6 months, and does not require a psychiatric diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria.

This is a good thing. While there are still many social and legal hurdles that Trans people have to face in order to live their lives, reducing some of the burden placed on them is something that can only benefit broader society.

The reform bill doesn't add any "new" rights for Trans people under law. It also doesn't remove any rights for Cisgendered people. It also doesn't require anyone to go through the legal process if they don't want to.

It doesn't force anyone to transition. It doesn't mandate any surgery or medical interventions. It will improve the quality of life for Trans people and make a bit of essential paperwork easier to get.

I don't understand how anyone can think that these changes are in any way a threat to the safety of women or children. Especially in $CURRENT_YEAR when we have had some great social progress on the L, G and B parts of the acronym.

Trans people are more likely to be the victims of physical or sexual violence than the perpetrators of it.  These re-heated anti-queer arguments that are going around are a sign that we still have a lot of work to do.

It causes a broader issue for Scottish Independence too. When some of the loudest voices in the Independence movement are spouting such anti-trans hate, it can't help but turn people away from the idea.  

With Stuart Campbell back on Twitter after being banned for his hate speech, the megaphone these backwards views have on them has gotten just that little bit louder.

These people don't represent the Independence movement, or what I think a just and fair society should look like. They certainly don't represent the views of Scotland.

The Gender Recognition Reform Bill is looking likely to pass in this session of Parliament, as it has broad support across many parties, as well as a majority backing form the SNP and the Scottish Greens.

I hope this small step is part of a longer road that will lead quickly to Trans people being able to live with the same dignity and security that so many of us take for granted.