Women Speak Scotland is a safe space where gender critical women can discuss ideas, learn and share information, particularly about actions and campaigns.
Below are links to some of the current issues.
Make the census make sense
To those in Scotland – please email your MSPs as a matter of urgency.
To quote from their blog post:
All three census authorities have committed to the longstanding, compulsory sex question, which will continue to enable respondents to answer either ‘female’ or ‘male’. In addition, the census in England, Wales and Scotland will carry a new, voluntary question on gender identity.
The three census authorities also intend to include accompanying guidance which advises respondents to answer the sex question based on their self-declared gender identity, not their sex.
The sex question guidance in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has not yet been finalised, and is currently subject to further testing by ONS. But, whilst the census has been delayed in Scotland, the National Records of Scotland (NRS) appear to be treating the guidance as a done deal. Whether the recent assessment by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) will prompt NRS to reopen discussion on the guidance remains to be seen. There is still also the possibility of ONS either altering or dropping its guidance as a result of further testing, which NRS will need to factor into its decision-making.
We need to email our MSPs
Lisa Mackenzie (from MBM) emphasised we have a very tiny window available in Scotland as the guidance was meant to be completed by the “end of the summer”, but she hasn’t seen anything yet. So, it is worth us emailing our MSPs now as a highest priority. It is possible we may just have weeks to comment on the guidance and get it changed (apparently it is not covered by legislation so should be “easier” to influence if our interpretation is correct).
Woman’s Place UK have a template to help guide people to write to their MPs, the ONS and the UK Minister for Women and Equalities about the proposed guidance to accompany the sex question in the census. You can use it as a starting point to email your MSPs.
Some further points that you could include and expand in your own words:
It is vital that all census data should be accurate and consistent across the UK. We should know that sex in England and Wales and Northern Ireland means the same thing in Scotland, otherwise provision of services, funding, health initiatives, etc in one nation cannot be compared to the others in the union. The data gathered will be meaningless if we all mean different things, and trying to combine data from all nations into UK wide statistics will be a pointless exercise.
A census is an exercise in accurate data collections and knowing what you are measuring is vital. Any confusion or ambiguity helps no-one – robust data will help trans people too as it will give policy makers and researchers a better understanding of the demographics involved and where there might be gaps in the provision of services.
It is said that some trans people, or at least those that claim to be speaking for them, do not want to admit they are trans, so filling in their sex accurately is associated with the unpleasant emotions it provokes. The ONS and NRS have responded by changing the guidance so you can basically declare whatever sex you want.
However, if a census is a data collection exercise and a group of people don’t want to be measured then we shouldn’t be measuring them if the consequence is ruining the accuracy of the data.
The state should not be actively guiding people to answer sex as gender identity – we need robust, high quality data for men and women to address any discrimination and disadvantage experienced on the basis of sex. As seen with COVID-19, men may be dying at higher rates as a result of the virus, while women may suffer as result of policy consequences due to the pandemic. Sex is a significant measurement of disadvantages and discrimination. It is unethical to collect inaccurate data – we need to be able to understand differences of outcomes in people’s lives, we need to be able to monitor trends between sexes, to design evidence-based policies and determine if such implemented polices are successful.
You can use the WriteToThem website to email your MSPs.
There are a number of incredibly important cases that currently require sufficient funding to enable the women and men to see it through in court.
A summary of all the Judicial Reviews, Employment Tribunals, and Appeals since 2018 can be found in the document linked below, along with links to the crowdfunding pages.
Please donate if you are able to and spread the word about them if you can. Thank you.
Next in court …
Judicial Review date set: 7th January 2021
There are some consultations currently open which are relevant to the rights of women and children. You may wish to submit a response to them. If we find any information that might help with submissions, we will post it here.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in scotland seeks your views on the police investigation of Hate crime – closes 12 noon on 31 oct 2020
Equally Safe: A consultation on challenging men’s demand for prostitution, working to reduce the harms associated with prostitution and helping women to exit – Closes 10 Dec 2020
There appear to be two online questionnaires – one to respond to the detailed and specific questions found in the consultation paper itself, and another for the broad consultation questions in the summary.
Projects that require a bit of help getting off the ground.
Parents in scotland – email john swinney about content of rshp material
There is a template available at the For Women Scotland website to help parents write their own emails to John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Education, about several concerning aspects of the Relationship, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP) material.
It would be great if as many parents as possible were to do this. The example letter does a great job of outlining the main issues – and they are pretty worrying.
There have been some amazing developments thanks to the efforts of so many women over the past few years. There is still lots to do, but what an achievement in the face of intense opposition and harassment!
U.K. GRA Reform – Self-id has been rejected
Elizabeth Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities, published a statement that provided pragmatic improvements for trans people, while indicating that the proposed concept of ‘self-id’ had been rejected. She was also clear that the U.K. Equality Act 2010 allows service providers to restrict access to single-sex spaces on the basis of biological sex if there is a clear justification. Read the statement here.
The GRC application process remains relatively the same. We are very pleased that the spousal exit clause has been retained, which is an important consideration for trans widows.
Note: The decision to reject self-id by the U.K. Government only applies to England and Wales. The Gender Recognition Act has been devolved to Scotland and, so far, reforms to the Act have been suspended. The Scottish Government may still decide to implement self-id in the next parliamentary term, so we must continue to campaign against it.
NHS ENGLAND announces independent review into gender identity services for children and young people
The GRA and the application for a GRC only applies to adults. Dr Hilary Cass OBE, former President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, will lead an independent review into gender identity services for children and young people. It will focus on how care can be improved, including key aspects such as how and when they are referred to specialist services, and clinical decisions around how doctors and healthcare professionals support and care for patients with gender dysphoria. More information about this long overdue review can be found here.
Note: We hope the results of this review might help inform similar services carried out by NHS Scotland.
Department for Education issues New RSE guidance
The Department for Education in England has released new guidance for schools for the Relationships, Sex and Health curriculum. This is a very balanced and professional document that emphasises the importance of not reinforcing harmful stereotypes by suggesting that children might have a different gender identity based on their personality, interests or clothing preferences. Teachers should not work with external agencies or organisations that promote such materials. Schools should cooperate with parents in line with safeguarding policy. The use of external agencies and their materials should also be carefully assessed by schools to ensure they comply with legislation and educational policy, and are age-appropriate.
This new guidance is welcomed by groups like Safe Schools Alliance and Transgender Trend, along with various women’s rights organisations and activists as they have campaigned to challenge the “born in the wrong body” narrative pushed by gender identity ideology.
Note: We hope this guidance will encourage the educational policies in Scotland to be revised for the better.
Hate Crime Bill (Scotland)
The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill is one of the most concerning pieces of legislation proposed by the Scottish Government. It has the potential to criminalise individual women and feminist groups that speak out against the erosion of women’s rights due to gender extremism.
Below are links to submissions made to the Justice Committee by various organisations concerned with the rights of women and LGB people.
The Scottish Parliament’s bill process and the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill – explanation of how legislation is brought forward, and how various amendments and rejections can take place.
Further analysis by MurrayBlackburnMackenzie :
In support of J. K. Rowling
Women Speak Scotland published an open letter in June 2020 in response to the accusations of transphobia and online threats aimed at J.K. Rowling. We call on all those who support free speech and are concerned by the levels of aggression and censorship directed towards women who disagree with gender extremism to read and sign our letter. We would especially love to have more signatures from women in Scotland.