The Scottish Government will announce its proposals for and open its second consultation on gender recognition reform this week.
This is the second consultation because the first one did not get the result that bigots wanted: of the 15,532 individuals and 165 organisations who responded to the months-long, widely publicised consultation, 60% respondents were in favour of reform. Rather than “silencing women”, the consultation received submissions favouring reform from women’s organisations including Rape Crisis Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid, Women 50:50, Zero Tolerance, Close The Gap, Engender and Equate Scotland.
When women’s groups said they were in favour of gender recognition reform, the “stop silencing women” groups told the government to ignore them and re-run the consultation. To its great shame, the government did.
The first Scottish consultation ended shortly before the English anti-trans panic really kicked in, so the evangelical groups, right-wing nutcases and anti-LGBT+ bigots that have poisoned the issue down south didn’t really get to make as much noise up here as they did in the rest of the UK (although all the leading anti-trans organisations and anti-LGBT groups did make submissions to the initial consultation, despite many of them claiming the consultation was somehow kept secret from them).
They’ve made up for lost time ever since, and the second consultation will see them given a much bigger microphone to try and incite fear and hatred of trans people, especially trans women. They will be supported by their friends down south and across the Atlantic and by the majority of the local and national press.
The proposed reforms have been implemented successfully in many other countries and have never been abused; lurid tales of predatory men using gender recognition certificates remain firmly in the imaginations of newspaper columnists, religious fundamentalists and idiots on Twitter. The predator myth was created by the US religious right after losing its war on equal marriage; at least one group has admitted fabricating the “predators in bathrooms” issue to try and make people scared of trans women.
GRA reform has no impact on who gets to use toilets, who gets to access women’s refuges, who goes where in prison.
It will not redefine the meaning of “woman”, force children to see penises or any of the other nonsense claims made by the same people who a generation ago would have been the ones claiming that lesbians shouldn’t be allowed to be PE teachers and that gay primary school teachers would molest their pupils.
Nevertheless these claims and many more will be churned out by the Scottish and national press and on social media for many months to come. Many of the people making those claims will be ill-informed but many more will be malicious.
Look for newspaper columnists with a track record of Islamophobia, social media posters who can barely hide their homophobia, “family values” campaigners who’ve previously lobbied against women’s reproductive health and for the right of parents to beat their children. Look for the Mumsnet crowd who’ve tried to defund children’s charities, for the antisemites claiming conspiracy, for the “protect women” groups who don’t care about any of the issues currently harming women, for the public figures who once said exactly the same about gay and lesbian people that they’re saying about trans people today.
Listen for the dog whistles behind the “reasonable concerns” and false claims to care about “real” trans people.
The flood of abuse that’s coming won’t stop reform from happening; it’s in line with international best practice and reflects the medical, scientific and legal consensus. GRA reform is a niche issue that only affects a tiny number of people, and the current concerns will one day be seen for the bullshit they are.
But in the meantime it means yet more daily abuse of people like me.
What the endless, cowardly delays in Scotland and England have done is enabled the far right, the religious right and their useful idiots to demonise part of the LGBT+ community in an attempt to weaken the wider family. Trans people are just the start.
We are a wedge strategy for anti-LGBT+ and anti-feminist activism, the softest targets in a war on gay men and lesbian women, on bisexual people and on women’s reproductive rights. We’ve seen the LGB Alliance’s social media run by Trump supporters and question the validity of bisexual people, seen Women Make Glasgow claim gay men shouldn’t get life-saving medicine, seen the leading lights of the UK anti-trans movement break bread with right-wing Christian fundamentalists and declare their support for Tommy Robinson, watched our MPs laud activists who claimed that trans people are a global conspiracy funded by the Jews. We’ve even seen people elected who believe that there’s a secret Muslim strategy to turn everybody transgender.
We have endured more than two years of this, and yet the immediate future looks even worse. I’m scared not just for us, but for everybody else who’ll be targeted after us.