Leaflets designed to stoke division amongst women and the LGBT community have been discovered in a staff area at City of Edinburgh Council’s headquarters.

The leaflets, which promote the ‘For Women Scotland’ group, include a number of  anti-trans statements, many of them factually incorrect and the incident has now been reported to Police Scotland to investigate as a possible hate crime.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the City of Edinburgh Council said:

“We are fully committed as an organisation to everyone feeling valued, included and being able to authentically bring their whole self to work.”

“We have no knowledge of these leaflets or how they came to be in our building. It is to our deep regret that it is highly unlikely that we will be able to establish where these leaflets came from, given the open nature of the spaces concerned, which are potentially accessible by thousands of employees and visitors.”

“However, we will not condone or tolerate any behaviours or actions that are counter to us building an inclusive workplace and will take robust steps to deal with incidents like this where we can identify those responsible.”

Michael Richardson, a local UNISON Equalities Officer, also commented on the leaflets:

“These sort of incidents, where anti-trans material is distributed to staff, damage the true feminist movement and endanger trans and other gender non-confirming individuals, which is completely unacceptable.”

“Organisations and employers, especially the likes of City of Edinburgh Council with more than 18,000 employees, need to make it clear that they abhor this kind of behaviour by taking robust action to protect staff. I welcome the commitment from the Council on tackling this type of behaviour and hope incidents like this are never repeated.”

For Women Scotland recently held a public meeting in the capital city, outlining what they described as the Scottish Government “sleepwalking into a significant erosion of women’s rights” by backing changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). The event was met by a number of protesters outside the venue, calling-out the group for misleading the public on trans rights.

Sisters Uncut Edinburgh were at that protest and have now produced their own leaflets (and a website here) in response, setting out why the misinformation about trans identities is so damaging and life-threatening for many.

A spokesperson for the group told us:

“Firstly, the way in which incidents like this are reported must describe the actions of groups like FWS as hate-speech. They are spreading lies and misinformation about trans people.”

“Secondly, it is essential that this is not described as a topic that is up for, or under debate or ‘contentious’. Trans rights are human rights. Recognising trans women as women does not threaten women’s spaces.”

“Thirdly, these groups are describing themselves as women’s organisations which implies they represent all women – they do not. Organisations like Edinburgh Rape Crisis – a specialised women’s organisation – are trans inclusive.”

“Sisters Uncut Edinburgh have acquired the domain to combat this anti-trans narrative. Gatekeeping of vital survivor services harms cisgender and transgender women alike. Gatekeeping is also already doing harm in the forced social isolation of trans prisoners.”

“Finally, gender and sex are not binary. Top-down bureaucratic efforts at policing and segregation are bound to run into problems with people who don’t fit their artificially imposed world view.”

Trans people have come under significant and sustained attack over many months, especially on social media, as discussion around changes to the Gender Recognition Act are debated in Scotland and also by the Westminster government.

LGBT organisations have called for changes to the law in Scotland to make the process of transitioning much less painful, less invasive and more respectful, including:

  • Introducing a simple process of self-declaration in order to change someone’s birth certificate and removing the need for a long and often humiliating process of psychiatric testing, bringing Scotland into line with international best practice.
  • Bringing the age of consent into line with the existing age of legal responsibility, at 16 instead of the current age 18.
  • Legal recognition for those who identify as non-binary, including on official documents such as birth certificates.

Earlier in 2019, the Scottish Trans Alliance, Equality Network and Stonewall wrote to the Cabinet Secretary in the Scottish Government with responsibility for equalities, Shirley-Anne Somerville, to highlight the issues faced by trans people if changes to the legislation were delayed. Ms Somerville confirmed the Government remain committed to making the GRA better for trans people.

img_1592First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has also indicated her strong support for changes to gender reform, saying “trans rights are not a threat to me as a woman or my feminism” at an event in the United States recently.

Groups such as For Women Scotland continue to claim that safe spaces for women will be impacted by changes to the self declaration process. In fact, self declaration has been in place in Scotland since the Equality Act 2010 came into effect. Women’s groups, including Engender, Rape Crisis Scotland and Scottish Women’s Aid, have all backed reforms to the GRA.

Fundamentally, opposition to gender reforms seems rooted in one simple ignorant argument, that somehow trans men are not ‘real’ men and trans women are not ‘real’ women.  This argument often boils down to sex characteristics, with online trolling focussing on the genitals of trans people and whether they ‘qualify’ or not.

This seems to completely disregard those qualities that make us all uniquely individual – we are much more than our genitals or the body we have developed.  How we feel and how our mind, and some would argue our soul, are arguable more important at defining us as human beings. We are not binary beings.

Trans men are men and have always felt like men inside.

Trans women are women and have always felt like women inside.

These changes are about giving all trans people, including non-binary identifying people, the right to a dignified and simple process to allow them to live their lives freely and without discrimination.

You can find out more about the Equal Recognition campaign here.



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