An open letter in support of trans rights in Scotland has now been signed by hundreds of women from around the country.
The letter, first published on Sunday by TIE Campaign Chair, Rhiannon Spear, calls for an end to attempts to “roll back the rights that trans people already have” and urges that the trans community are not excluded from equalities and human rights discussions.
Women such as Dame Emma Thompson, musician Lucy Spraggan, MP’s Mhairi Black and Hannah Bardell, and MSP’s Gail Ross and Rona Mackay are amongst almost 200 women who have signed the letter. Women from a diverse range of backgrounds, including journalists, lawyers, actors, academics, publishers, women’s aid workers, those in the third sector and allies have all supported the change in narrative around trans rights.
Explaining why she wrote the letter, Spear said:
“As Chair or Time for Inclusive Education (TIE), I believe it is important that we’re able to have open conversations about advancing equalities within our society.”
“However, the current narrative regarding trans identities and rights have made it difficulty to have these conversations, and media sensationalism and misinformation has meant that rather than properly discussing much needed advancements we are now forced to revert to conversation about defending the existence of trans identities and protection the current rights of the trans community.”
“As a woman and proud feminist, I know that advancing trans rights does not threaten my womanhood or my feminism. That stance is not only shared by this letter’s co-signatories; but by many women’s support services, networks, organisations and centres across the country – who have a long history and solid record of standing up for women.”
“Defining womanhood by confirming to strict biological and physical attributes has been fought against by strong women long before my time. To now see some advocate that trans women are denied their rights and their dignity on these very grounds, I believe would be a devastating step back for women and for feminism.”
The Scottish Government consulted in 2017 and 2018 on changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA), which includes proposals to bring the age of legal gender recognition into line with the age of legal capacity (age 16); to make the process of applying for a change in legal gender much less intrusive for trans people and introduce a simple administrative action instead, and; allow non-binary people to have a birth certificate that reflects their true identity.
A detailed analysis of the consultation has now been published, with the Government now considering the recommendations before bringing any proposals to the Scottish Parliament. Changes to the GRA would bring Scotland up to international best practice, already introduced in countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Denmark, Malta, Ireland, Norway and Belgium.
But critics have said these changes will lead to safe spaces for women being compromised. Some women believe those who have not yet completed their transition pose a direct threat to cisgender women (those born biologically female).
Only last week, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, tweeting in the context of proposed changes to make the Census more inclusive of trans and non-binary people, said she felt the “concerns of ordinary women” were not being listened to in this debate, and that “more men self ID as women while retaining male bodies and male genitals.” However, it would appear this comes from the perspective of someone who fundamentally does not believe trans women are women, despite the rights of trans people being recognised and protected in law for some time under the Equality Act 2010.
National women’s organisations have consistently supported trans rights and just last year issued a joint statement in support of changes to the Gender Recognition Act, with many named individually as signatories to the TIE Chair’s open letter. Organisations that provide rape crisis or specific safe space services for women are the experts in the field of supporting women and conduct thorough risk assessments with every individual accessing their services.
The reality is that, while the Scottish Government continue to consider the changes to the GRA, trans people face daily trolling on social media, face abuse when they go out, are told by some in positions of influence they are a risk to women and are even brutally attacked on our streets.
Until these changes are brought forward in law, we implore all members of our diverse lesbian, gay and bisexual community to show their strong support for trans people – they are our coworkers, our friends, our family and they have consistently stood up for the advancement of our LGB rights for decades.
Trans rights are not negotiable – stand up and show your support.
You can add your name to the open letter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The full open letter and list of current signatories is listed below: