Not all hate preachers have beards

Imagine if members of the Scottish Parliament invited leading far-right “race realist” figures to address the parliament about The Great Replacement, the white nationalist conspiracy theory. They would tell MSPs about how political and social elites were harming ordinary white men and women by encouraging immigration. They would claim that this global conspiracy, a conspiracy many of their followers blame the Jews for funding, will render white people powerless, and they would advocate for the rollback of decades-old equality legislation so that black and brown people would not be entitled to protection from discrimination or hate crimes.

Would they get away with it?

Of course they wouldn’t. But swap brown people for trans ones and that’s exactly what MSP Joan McAlpine is doing.

To mark International Trans Day of Remembrance, which mourns trans people murdered as a result of anti-trans hatred, McAlpine is hosting a bigot party that’s going to stir up even more hatred. That appears to be its entire purpose. Various “gender critical” extremists are going to tell MSPs that political and social elites are harming ordinary women by encouraging “transgenderism”. They will claim that this global conspiracy, which their followers often blame the Jews for funding, will render cisgender people powerless, and they will advocate for the rollback of decades-old equality legislation that protects trans people from discrimination and hate crimes.

McAlpine, a former member of disgraced former First Minister Alex Salmond’s inner circle, appears to be one of several SNP figures who are using transphobia as a wedge and trans people as collateral damage in their attempts to undermine Nicola Sturgeon.

But her position, and the people she’s platforming, have become much more extreme. What began with disingenuous assertions about “reasonable concerns” regarding the Gender Recognition Act has become what appears to be the very deliberate, malicious platforming of hate speech.

This latest event is to promote a “Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights”, a declaration that’s entirely about trying to remove fifty years of protections for trans people. It is not about the Gender Recognition Act of “reasonable concerns” fame, which would be bad enough. It’s about trying to roll back the Equality Act of 2010 and pretty much any relevant protections introduced since the 1970s.

And women’s rights organisations can see right through it.

Here’s Emma Ritch, director of the Engender feminist organisation.

This declaration… doesn’t include women’s rights to housing, pay equality, access to justice, social security, education, or political representation. When it talks about violence against women, freedom of expression, and children’s rights it does so entirely through the warped lens of antipathy towards trans people.

CommonSpace has spoken to all the major Scottish women’s groups, and their view is the same. As a spokesperson for Scottish Women’s Aid put it:

We are worried that some of the debate around trans inclusion has blurred the line between free speech and hate speech.

Here’s Christine Burns MBE, one of the people who helped create the Gender Recognition Act.

Let’s not beat about the bush: Elements within the SNP are advocating a policy on trans people that not only contravenes a unanimous judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in 2002 but suggests ignoring administrative principles established since 1970.

And here’s the Scottish Equality Network:

A “Declaration” recently circulated to MSPs says that trans people should always be treated, for all purposes (legal and otherwise) as the sex that they were registered at birth. That would breach the European Convention on Human Rights, and breach UK and EU equality law.

The speakers at McAlpine’s event will include Sheila Jeffreys, a lesbian separatist who isn’t very keen on bisexual people or straight women and who has claimed that trans people – who she calls “parasites” – are part of a government-sponsored plot to enforce gender stereotypes and wipe out homosexuality, because that’s a completely reasonable and not batshit insane thing to say. She bases this on Iran, where – according to her – cisgender gay men are transitioning to become women in incredible numbers because it’s easier to be trans than gay.

As Wikipedia notes: “The belief that cisgender homosexuals have actually undergone sex change due to social pressure is not supported by evidence.”

Here’s a typically measured, sensible, reasonable bit from Jeffreys where she advocates making it illegal, globally, for trans people to have gender confirmation surgery:

Janice Raymond does not consider that legislation outlawing surgery is the right way forward. I am not so sure, and classifying transsexualism as a human rights violation would be a step towards making surgery illegal.

– Journal of Lesbian Studies, p71, Vol 1, 1997

Note the date. Jeffreys has been banging her hateful gong for decades.

Jeffreys and her fellow speakers, inevitably, are the supposedly silenced free thinkers who talk endlessly about how they’re being prevented from sharing their crackpot conspiracy theories about trans people as they share their crackpot conspiracy theories about trans people in their books, in their lectures, in their national newspaper interviews and in their national broadcast interviews. And now, they’re getting to share their crackpot conspiracy theories about trans people in Parliament.

The CommonSpace piece does a good job of showing the big picture, but the rest of Scots media almost certainly won’t: the Herald, the Scotsman and The National, as well as the tabloids, have followed London’s lead and consistently amplified anti-trans extremists.

They have effectively silenced not just trans people and LGBT+ groups, but also the many women’s groups who recognise hatred when they see it.