Stephen Flynn, the SNP and trans

Even with the gender recognition Bill, trans is not the most important political issue for the Scottish National Party. So what difference does the election of Stephen Flynn as the leader of the party in Westminster make to us?

There is a great deal of hatred of trans people in politics and the media, and trans people might have been worried by Joanna Cherry’s delight the former leader Ian Blackford was stepping down. When she tweeted “It’s time for fresh leadership and tolerance of debate and diverse viewpoints”, I immediately thought the “diverse viewpoint” she had in mind was her desperation to say Trans is Bad, as loudly and frequently as she can.

The Scotsman (premium article shared by Microsoft) says Flynn would bring Cherry back to his front bench (Boo, hiss). However, read the next paragraph of the article- Tommy Sheppard MP starts talking about Independence. The Scotsman journalist, Alistair Grant, says Flynn is seen as more supportive of the oil and gas industry- he opposed a windfall tax, because of jobs in Aberdeen. Since the survival of the biosphere requires no further oil or gas fields to be opened, that may be more important than Flynn’s views on trans, even to trans people. But Flynn also says he wants a “green energy revolution”.

The BBC reports Mhairi Black will be Flynn’s deputy. She is lesbian, and a committed trans ally. Previous deputy Kirsten Oswald was also a strong trans ally.

I can’t find anything Flynn has said about trans. He has only been an MP since 2019. I hope his replacing Ian Blackford won’t affect trans people. All MPs have far more important things to work on than trans rights. I could not find anything on conversion therapy either. His votes in parliament have supported women’s rights and human rights. The Times’ report on Flynn shoehorned in a reference to gender recognition, but did not manage to make any connection.

The Westminster leader was elected by Westminster MPs. His opponent was Alison Thewliss, who was seen as Nicola Sturgeon’s preferred candidate. She has been an MP since 2015. I could not find anything she had said about trans, either.

If politics was about issues which mattered, which might improve the lot of people, improve the economy, help people engage with decisions which affected their lives, gender recognition and a conversion therapy ban would be quietly nodded through without any fuss, it would be easier to get medical treatment for trans needs without the requirement to see a specialist gender psychiatrist, and politics would otherwise ignore trans people. Tories only bring up trans because they have made a disaster for Britain, and they want any distraction. SNP politicians have more important things to think about. But generally, the SNP is our ally.

I understand the Scottish Gender Recognition Bill should pass this month, and the flood of strident hate and misinformation about it might then reduce. The SNP will have very slightly improved the lives of a tiny, vulnerable minority, with Labour and LibDem support and Greens in their governing coalition. Damaging the Bill would be a colossal snub to Nicola Sturgeon. Even if Flynn’s win shows her power wanes, that will not happen.

Ian Blackford, former leader, has spoken out for trans rights.

Stephen Flynn replaced Ian Blackford, and few people care. At 11am on 7 December, the SNP website news page did not mention it. Their front page showed several photos of Nicola, and none of Flynn. Perhaps that means someone cares very much indeed. The Guardian’s online front page had the announcement at the bottom of “From the UK”, below Opinion and Sport. The Times’ online front page had it at the very bottom. It says Flynn’s win dents Sturgeon’s authority, but, weirdly, does not mention gender recognition. If even the great propagandists against trans can’t include that, perhaps Flynn really does not change things for us.

2 thoughts on “Stephen Flynn, the SNP and trans

  1. Just to say I have emailed Flynn on several occasions before as he has been my own MP in Westminster. He has stated he is completely supportive of GRR and sees no place for conversion therapy for anyone in the U.K. I know this remains to be seen in practice but it’s a start. So fingers crossed he delivers.

    Liked by 2 people

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