I went to vote in the Scottish local government elections last week. On my ballot paper there were three candidates who wanted you to vote so they could harm people like me: one party who vowed that if elected, they’d ban people like me from council facilities such as swimming pools; one party who want to ban me from society altogether; and one party who want to ban me from everything and ensure that teachers can’t mention LGBT+ people in any context.
These are not just fringe parties. One of them was the Scottish tories, whose leader clearly believed that anti-traveller racism wasn’t toxic enough and who vocally embraced transphobia in the latter stages of the campaign.
Local elections are about bins, and who looks after your mum when she can’t look after herself any more, and about parks and roads and all the other things we use every day. But they’re also used by some of the world’s worst people to try and gain power over things like education and service provision so that they can harm others, a model that’s been used to terrifying effect in the US since the 1970s.
So it was heartening to see that all three parties got their arses handed to them at the ballot box.
In my constituency, like many others, the Scottish Green Party – which is explicitly trans inclusive and fielded a number of LGBT+ candidates – got more votes than the tories and their fellow roasters combined. The SNP, which is officially trans inclusive even if some MSPs didn’t get the memo, got even more.
With delicious irony, multiple parties told Scotland to think about trans women when we voted. So we did, and elected Glasgow’s first ever trans woman councillor. Another three openly trans people were elected in the rest of the UK.
There was a delicious moment when an anti-trans activist turned up on Twitter to inform the departing councillor Mhairi Hunter that her trans-supportive views had made women rise up and that Hunter was now reaping the whirlwind. “My replacement,” Hunter replied pleasantly, “is a trans woman.”
Leaving aside the fun fact that there are now more trans councillors in Scotland (one) than councillors from the anti-trans Alba party (zero), the results make it very clear that while transphobia may be very popular on Twitter and in the pages of our newspapers, it’s not an issue for the vast majority of people. It would be nice if the amount of media coverage the bigots get would reflect that.