On 14 January 2022, WSS requested a meeting with Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, to discuss women’s and girl’s rights in Scotland due to the SNP’s proposed reform of the Gender Recognition Act.
On 24 January 2022, we were disappointed to receive a response explaining that due to the volume of meeting requests the Cabinet Secretary could not commit to meeting with everyone. Instead, we were offered a meeting with the Gender Recognition Unit.
We arranged a meeting with the GRU for 15 February 2022. We were given a 30-minute slot with Peter Hope-Jones, the Head of the GRU. This was a frustratingly short period of time in which to air our concerns and raise questions. Predictably, there was much that was left unanswered. However, we were encouraged to send in a follow-up letter as our questions might be addressed via this format.
You can read our letter to the Head of the GRU that describes the questions that were raised on the day of the meeting as well as a number of further questions that have yet to be answered by the Scottish Government on this issue.
According to an article by the Scottish Daily Express, a Scottish Government spokesperson has said: “No group that has requested a meeting about the Gender Recognition Bill has been refused. Further ministerial meetings with a range of organisations, including those who have recently been in touch with a request, will take place ahead of the bill being introduced to Parliament.”
We note that the SNP promised in their manifesto to work with all interest groups, including women, on proposed changes to the GRA. Ministers have since met with five government-funded LGBT groups but no grassroots women’s groups.
Nonetheless, we welcome the Scottish Government’s professed willingness to meet with a wider range of organisations. We have written to Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, to request a meeting to discuss women’s and girls’ rights in Scotland, in relation to the upcoming proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act.
Sex, gender identity, trans status – data collection and publication: guidance Chief Statistician (Scotland) – 22/09/2021 Roger Halliday, the chief statistician in Scotland, has chosen to ignore the findings of a public consultation. Analysis of the consultation noted that “disaggregating data between men and women can show where there is continuing discrimination which needs to be tackled.” But Halliday has drawn up guidance that fails to acknowledge the importance of collecting data on sex. He states that information about whether a respondent is male or female should only be recorded in “a small number of instances”, “on an individual basis for a very specific purpose” and “on a case-by-case basis”. The rationale he gives is that “asking individuals to disclose their sex may raise privacy issues.” Halliday notes that “in some cases this would have the potential to reveal a trans history that otherwise a person may wish to keep private”.
The trans rights that trump all Women’s rights were not considered in legislation that allows trans people to effectively decide their own gender The Critic – April 2021 Julie Bindel, Melanie Newman
The Political Erasure of Sex An overarching project which aims to document the process of policy capture in our public institutions, and how it is impacting the recognition and recording of biological sex in public policy, law, language, and data-collection.
A joint statement by Scottish women’s organisations on women’s sex-based rights and the Scottish Government’s proposal to reform the Gender Recognition Act
This statement has been issued by 14 Scottish grassroots feminist and women’s rights organisations in response to the Scottish Government’s announcement that it intends to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). The First Minister offered an assurance that this new legislation will “not… remove any of the legal protections women currently have”. We welcome that commitment to women’s sex-based rights. However a central feature of the proposed Bill is the introduction of sex self-ID and we do not believe that this can be compatible with the retention of existing women’s rights and protections under the Equality Act 2010. We use the term sex self-id instead of gender self-id because the most significant aspect of obtaining a gender recognition certificate (GRC) is that it allows people to engage in the legal fiction that they have become a member of the opposite sex, despite the biological impossibility of such an action. This contributes to widespread confusion, which makes it increasingly difficult to name, define or identify women, or to protect our single-sex spaces. We therefore call on all MSPs to reject this Bill in its entirety.
We would like to take this opportunity to make clear what the Scottish Government would need to do to ensure this commitment to women is kept.
We demand that women’s voices and experiences are heard and inform any legislative change.
To date the Scottish Government has predominantly engaged with a small selection of publicly funded trans-rights and women’s sector organisations, none of which consult with or claim to represent women’s views. Any legislative change must include meaningful engagement with a wide range of grassroots women’s rights organisations and take fully into account the needs of women.
Any changes to legislation must ensure that protections for women on the basis of our sex are strengthened, rather than weakened.
We oppose sex self-ID as it is detrimental to the overall interests and the sex-based rights of women. It would fundamentally transform our legal, political, social and cultural landscape with no objective assessment or analysis of the consequences for women and girls (or boys).
Removing any medical requirement from the process of obtaining a gender recognition certificate (GRC) would open up the process to abuse. It would be at best naïve and at worst criminally negligent to deny that predatory men will take advantage of any opportunity to gain access to women and girls when they are at their most vulnerable.
Additionally, removing medical diagnosis would remove protections and essential support to individuals considering transition but for whom this may not be the right course of action to deal with the distress they are experiencing.
In recent years, the Scottish Government and many other public organisations, including Police Scotland, the Scottish Prison Service and the NHS, have operated an informal process of sex self-identification, effectively turning single-sex spaces such as hospital wards, prisons, youth hostels and changing rooms, sports, awards and women-only shortlists into mixed-sex provision. These decisions were undertaken with little or no consideration for the effect on women, especially in prisons. The Equality and Human Rights Impact Assessments in these cases are usually not fit for purpose.
Increasing amounts of official data, which ought to record the protected characteristic of sex, are now being collected on the basis of someone’s self-declared gender identity (for example, Police Scotland recording male rapists and sex offenders as ‘female’). This seriously compromises the integrity of the data and makes it even more difficult to develop policies to overcome the disadvantage, oppression and discrimination faced by women.
This self-ID by stealth ignores and undermines the protections offered to women by the Equality Act, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, CEDAW and elsewhere.
We believe everyone should be able to live their lives in safety, free from discrimination or harassment. However, we oppose the introduction of any measures increasing the rights of males who identify as women or other genders to access women’s spaces, services and occupational roles on the basis of such professed identity as this is incompatible with the sex-based rights of women.
The Scottish Government must maintain single-sex spaces for the dignity, privacy, physical, emotional and psychological safety of women and girls.
There has long been a widespread recognition of the need for women-only spaces and facilities. Excluding the entire sex class of males from such provisions for women has, until recently, been entirely uncontroversial, despite the fact that not all males are predatory, violent or present a danger to women. It is a proportionate way to protect women and girls from the minority of males who do present a threat. Furthermore, the exclusion of all males as part of helping traumatised women is a proven feminist approach within the MVAWG (Male Violence Against Women and Girls) sector.
Some males who say they are not men now wish to be given an exemption from this general exclusion. Yet male patterns of offending behaviour do not vary according to gender identity and trans-identified males also retain male physical and social advantages. We believe this is neither fair nor safe for women, and therefore there is no case for allowing them privileged access to women’s spaces and facilities.
The Scottish Government must therefore:
ensure single-sex spaces, facilities and other provisions are fully protected;
strengthen the rights of women to create and access them through clear guidance;
ensure in-depth and thorough Equality and Human Rights Impact Assessments are carried out, especially in sectors and services where sex self-ID has been introduced by stealth ahead of legislation, so that public bodies in Scotland are not potentially in breach of their Public Sector Equality Duty.
The Scottish Government must guarantee that the human rights of women, including those to freedom of speech and assembly, are not adversely affected by legislative change.
We believe all people should be free to define themselves in whatever way they choose. But we reject the demeaning implication, outlined for example in the Gender Representation of Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018, that being a woman can be reduced to a series of pronouns, the name on a utility bill, a haircut or a dress.
Whatever label an individual chooses, the law must acknowledge that men cannot literally become women and women cannot literally become men. Women should not be compelled to act as though this is so, whether in our personal, professional, social or sexual lives.
We call on the Scottish Government to drop its plans to introduce sex self-ID and ask all MSPs to vote against such a Bill as it would have a hugely detrimental impact on women’s rights to safe single-sex spaces and freedom of speech.
“I fully support this statement and commend all the organisations for working closely to send this strong statement. I hope Scottish Government takes note.”
“I wholeheartedly support these women’s organisations in asking the Scottish Government to look again at the SelfID proposed under a review of the GRA. 51% of the electorate in Scotland are women – adult human females and I absolutely object to the definition of my sex category to behind redefined to include men who insist on being called women, even though there is no biological evidence to prove this . Dressing up as a woman will never make them women but they want access to women and girls spaces, Women/females absolutely object to this. If you were so certain that the women of Scotland will agree to this then why don’t you do a consultation with adult female women who live in Scotland, not organisations and individuals with vested interests. Women are not giving up on this and your party will be very foolish to pursue a policy that WILL put women at risk.”
“I will be proud to sign this declaration calling on our elected representatives to scrap the GRA review. I believe the introduction of ‘self-id’ is dangerous in many respects. I expressed this in my response to the consultation exercise on the GRA reform. It does nothing to help people with gender dysphoria who need specialist mental health care and not immediate affirmation. Autogynephilia among men is a condition that needs to be more widely recognised and treated. The fact that the cult of trans ideology seeks to stymie any discussion should be enough of a red flag to our government to halt the Bill and take much more time to explore the potential consequences. There are plenty of cases in Canada and America to be examined. Cases of men self-identifying their way into women’s prisons and shelters where they go on to assault and rape female inmates.”