The new draft law on gender recognition in Scotland has been published. There’s another consultation on it, which shows how far the hate campaign against trans women has come. The proposal is good enough, but the commentary and blog posts talk incessantly of “women’s rights”- the commentary says there is no threat to women’s rights, of course, because that is simply true, but raising the matter will encourage anti-trans campaigners to complain. Continue reading
One SNP women’s officer got in the Herald for disgusting transphobic abuse, and a few are now signing her transphobe “Women’s Pledge”. You can report it to Avaaz as hate speech, as I did. Question is, do people realise it is transphobic?
Men and women rushed to sign the Women’s Pledge.
Um. A few thousand, from a Scottish population of five million.
… The pledge affirms women’s single sex protections in the Equality Act 2019 which we believe must be upheld.
There is no Equality Act 2019. I am happy with the Equality Act 2010, the Act which includes me. And- trans women are women! I have no problem with single sex women’s services which include me.
Women have the right to discuss policies which affect them, such as the proposed self identification of sex, without being abused or silenced.
A facile lie. Gender recognition reform only affects trans people. No one will declare themselves the opposite sex without transitioning, even if the law permitted it, which is unlikely.
And the press and internet are full of transphobic hatred. Some women discuss nothing else. But when they say we are dangerous, we object.
Women have the right to maintain their sex based protections as set out in the Equality Act 2010. These include female only spaces such as changing rooms, hospital wards, sanitary and sleeping accommodation, refuges, hostels and prisons.
We know what she means, of course. No Trans Women!! But the Equality Act includes trans women in these spaces. She cannot have it both ways- you can’t exclude all trans women, and support the Equality Act.
Women have the right to refuse consent to males in single sex spaces or males delivering intimate services to females such as washing, dressing or counselling.
So any woman could object to a trans woman. I would go to the loo, some transphobe would stop me, “refuse consent” and I would be excluded. Or in a work place one worker would “refuse consent” and there would thereafter be a sign on the door, No Trans Women. Rather than law accommodating a few mostly harmless eccentrics, the might of the law would police where I went to the toilet.
It would make transition impossible, and thereby make other gender nonconformity more difficult.
Women have the right to single sex sport to ensure fairness and safety at all levels of competition.
And human rights law would need rewritten. Instead of recognising that some people transition, and that is harmless, it would exclude us.
Women have the right to organise themselves according to their sex class across a range of cultural, leisure, educational and political activities.
Women could have women only clubs, even political parties. That would involve tearing up the Equality Act too: sex discrimination law works both ways.
Nicola Sturgeon said, “As an ardent, passionate feminist, and have been all of my life, I don’t see the greater recognition of transgender rights as a threat to me as a woman or to my feminism.” Though some MSPs disagree, the SNP “supports trans rights and women’s rights as part of our commitment to human rights and equality”.
But some people want to divide the SNP and turn it into an organisation to eradicate transsexual transition: because such people have no interest in any other political issue, but all is subordinated to excluding trans women.
The most significant transphobe to crawl out of the darkness where some hide their hate is the MSP Joan McAlpine, who has organised a hate-fest at the Scottish Parliament on TDoR. It was later rescheduled for January, possibly because the organisers are incompetent, possibly to eke out the notoriety.
There’s also Joanna Cherry MP, calling someone misogynist for holding up a B with the T sign. That article has an excellent explanation of what a “TERF” is. I have collected several examples of Cherry’s extreme transphobia here. She couldn’t be prosecuted, but has probably caused violence against trans people.
23 February 2021: The SNP’s new transphobia policy is better than nothing I suppose.
The consultation in Scotland has produced powerful arguments for gender recognition reform. Trans people should have our true gender recognised with the minimum of bureaucracy. There were over fifteen thousand responses, from Scotland and around the world.
The terfs had got their publicity machine going in England by the close of the consultation in March. In England, nearly half of respondents said trans people should not be allowed to declare our gender. But of people in Scotland, who are most affected, 65% agreed that the law should recognise the gender we officially declare. Why? Because no-one makes such a declaration without thought and commitment, and because the existing procedure is expensive and demeaning, deterring people from applying. We should not need to provide medical reports, because we are not ill, and we have to wait too long to see the particular specialists. A rape crisis centre reported that they work by self-declaration already, and never demand to see anyone’s birth certificate.
Should we have to make a “statutory declaration”, a formal oath or affirmation before a Justice of the Peace or solicitor? A bare majority said Yes, and I agree. It is a serious matter. However, a meeting with a registrar is an alternative. Should we say we will live in the acquired gender “until death”? Some fear reference after death to the previous name and gender, others say they do not know what their intentions will be. Wording like “Currently intend to live in the acquired gender permanently” would solve these problems. Any statutory declaration sets a bar for gender recognition, which might put people off. It may be contrary to the spirit of self-declaration.
There should not be a reflection period after the declaration. People have thought long and hard before we change our gender, and social transition has far more consequences than the declaration.
Should there be a limit on the number of times a person can get legal gender recognition? Some dullard, to make a point, might do a stat dec every week, and if he wants to it harms no-one, and does not make a wider point about the system as a whole. There is no evidence of frivolous behaviour or fraudulent abuse elsewhere, and a limit might show undue concern about such abuse. It might deter people from self-declaring. But for trans people, our understanding of gender can evolve over time, and we might revert because of external pressure- my friend reverted as she could not see her grandchildren otherwise.
Should the declaration only be open to people living in Scotland or whose birth was registered there? I think yes, though a majority disagreed. Other countries might not recognise a Scottish gender declaration of a person without a link to Scotland, but it would be something people could do, symbolically, if they could not get gender recognition in their own countries. It would have effect while in Scotland. It demonstrates Scottish values of liberal inclusiveness. Asylum seekers might not be considered legally resident, and should be able to change their gender. Some people might be planning to move to Scotland.
Now, only people 18 or over can change their gender. Should 16 year olds be able to? Increasingly, 16 year olds can exercise other rights in Scotland. They can get married, and vote in Scottish elections. Most people agreed they should, especially Scots. However existing Scots law presumes capacity to make choices and exercise rights from the age of 12, and younger children can demonstrate their capacity to do so. The UN convention on the rights of the child requires that children are not discriminated against on the grounds of age, gender identity or sexuality. Children can be aware from an early age that they are trans. Gender recognition could help them move into adulthood, and thrive in education or employment. They sometimes avoid applying for opportunities because it would mean showing a wrong gender birth certificate. It affects their self-esteem if their documents are questioned. A parental application or applications by capable children are other possibilities.
Should we be able to get gender recognition irrespective of a spouse’s consent? 70% said yes. Even in marriage we should have a right to personal autonomy and self-identity. Spouses refusing consent could be abusive or manipulative. Trans people are at a high risk of domestic abuse. Abusers should not be given power or control, or the ability to ridicule. You do not need spousal consent for hormone treatment or surgery. Should a civil partnership be converted to a marriage or annulled? I feel opposite-gender couples should be able to get civil partnerships, but that’s really not a trans issue: there should be an option of leaving it be. 73% agreed.
Should gender recognition be a ground of divorce? “Irretrievable breakdown of marriage” is the ground of divorce, including where a spouse has behaved in such a way that it is unreasonable to expect the other to carry on living with them. That does not mean the behaviour was wrong, just the spouse reasonably felt it broke the marriage. So there is no need for a separate ground. That’s the Scottish Government’s view. To have legal gender recognition as a standalone ground for divorce is stigmatisation. It could contravene a right to privacy.
Most people didn’t know whether there should be changes to our right to privacy, and only 15% said there should. But for those who said there should be no change, the most frequent comment was that the right to privacy should be paramount. I feel we need additional protections, but the consultation is inconclusive. We should be protected whether we have a gender recognition certificate or not.
Most people agreed that if someone’s gender is recognised by another legal system, Scotland should automatically recognise it. Of course. No-one should need to reapply. It is unwelcoming and distressing to require a second gender recognition process. There is no basis for treating a person Canadian law, say, treats as a woman, as anything else unless the person desires it. We should not have to prove our gender.
Should Scotland take action to recognise non-binary people? Yes, and 66% of Scots respondents agreed. Being non-binary is just as valid as other genders or being trans. Non-binary people are humiliated by misgendering. They deserve respect and the same rights as everyone else. Non-binary recognition subverts overly rigid gender stereotypes. 75% opted for full recognition with the existing gender recognition system.
The Scots parliament cannot amend the Equality Act, but amendment is vital. Rather than referring to “gender reassignment” it should protect people on the ground of “gender expression and trans identity”, or of gender identity or gender expression. That would protect those terfs who find gender stereotypes particularly repugnant or oppressive. There could still be protection on sex as a separate ground.
The English consultation received over a hundred thousand responses, and the Government hopes to have a response in Spring next year, but the minister says “There will be no loss of trans people’s rights”. That’s a relief. The pdf summary of the responses to the Scottish consultation is here.
The Scottish Government proposes that a person should get gender recognition, if they make a formal declaration before a Notary Public that they intend to live in their acquired gender until death. Making a false statutory declaration is a criminal offence, and their research on other countries allowing self-declaration has not found evidence of false or frivolous statements. There is support from women’s rights organisations including Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland, whose joint statement says, We do not regard trans equality and women’s equality to be in competition or contradiction with each other. We support the Equal Recognition campaign and welcome the reform of the Gender Recognition Act.
Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid in Scotland provide trans inclusive services on the basis of self identification. We will continue to work collaboratively with Scottish Trans Alliance and other equality organisations with the aim of ensuring that new processes are appropriately designed and without unintended consequences.
Limiting the number of times one can change sex might restrict frivolous applications. Malta requires second and subsequent applications to be considered by a court. However Sam Kane has transitioned three times, male to female to male to female, and I feel each time she did it feeling distress and oppression. She reverted because of sexism and transphobia. These things are not her fault and she should not be penalised for them. Colombia only permits two changes, which must be at least ten years apart. That might make me fear an honest declaration, since I cannot correct it if I am wrong. When I transitioned, I thought it possible that I might be trying to live male five years later. It is an additional difficulty, just one more thing requiring a leap of faith. I consider my real transition to be the day I transitioned at work, or “went full time”, which required enough clarity, determination and trust, as I would have made a fool of myself to revert.
Even the suggestion that men might do this frivolously, or maliciously to get access to women’s space, is repulsive. Even three in a year might be a leap, a bad experience causing reversion, then a second leap of faith which is even more courageous. I do not want someone showing that courage and determination to be investigated in case they were frivolous. Instead, deal with actual wrongs. Women’s space is not a good place for sex crime, as the criminal is outnumbered. Women’s support groups have experience with difficult behaviour and ways of dealing with it.
The Scottish Government proposes that 16 year olds should be able to affirm their gender change, as Scots law generally gives rights as adults to people over 16, and protections as young people until 18. They are consulting on various options for younger children, such as allowing parents to affirm for them. The parent would be trusted to do this in the best interests of the child, and consider the child’s wishes. Alternatively, a child who could show they had sufficient maturity to make the decision could affirm.
Ireland and Denmark do not require the consent of a spouse before a married trans person can declare their gender. If the gender change breaks the relationship, the trans person should not have to undergo the expense of divorce before getting their gender recognised. If the relationship remains, the trans person will not make the declaration without their partner’s support. In either case they should not require the partner’s consent. Consent can be used to put improper pressure on a trans person. The other may feel betrayed, and feel that the trans person has broken the relationship, but that does not entitle them to take revenge by refusing consent.
Now, if one partner seeks gender recognition the other can use that as grounds for divorce. This should not be a separate ground for divorce. The usual ground is “unreasonable behaviour”, and a spouse should be able to argue that gender change is unreasonable behaviour. This is such a slight change; it means that gender recognition broke the marriage in the particular circumstances of this couple, rather than normally or generally.
They are also talking of increasing recognition for non-binary people, though this will require action by the UK government and additional rights in Equalities legislation.
They don’t address the question of what it means to “live in your acquired gender”. For me, does it mean always wearing wigs and at least attempting to talk in a feminine register? Does it mean anything else about clothing preferences, or particular behaviours? I think it means what the person believes it to mean. Women can wear what they like and do what they like. I feel most people who change gender will have a particular view about what it means, and attempt to resemble the assigned gender, but that is subjective too.
Consultation document pdf is here. It describes ways to respond to the consultation.
For as long as a hundred of us remain alive, we shall never consent to submit to the rule of the English. For it is not for riches that we fight, or for honour, but for freedom alone, which no good man loses but with his life.
We can still RISE, NOW, and BE the NATION aGAIN-
The last I imagine belted out raucously by a large group of drunken men, in Brazil, perhaps, if only we had qualified. My eyes get a wee bit moist, though not enough to spill over. This is mine, it speaks to me, for these are my people and my roots, and if it is us against them I am always with Us. Scots.
But then this is mine, too: We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. I decided to search for “We shall fight them,” and of course this came up first. How could it not? Because we never did consent to submit, we entered a partnership freely, and recently both Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer were Scots. David Cameron, though English, has Scots antecedents. Tony Blair went to school in Edinburgh. We are stronger, united. This is my country, one country, Chilterns and Grampians, Edinburgh and Manchester.
It is a mean and paltry thing, remembering the one battle that we actually won, seven hundred years ago. Great fun for a day or two, perhaps, but- have we moved on? Just a wee bit? The lives of most Scots would not be greatly different under Edward II of England, or Robert de Bruys, another Norman lord.
Scots consider the Independence referendum with a hard head, and know that even if we could up anchor and sail to the Mediterranean or the Baltic or wherever, it would be a poor bargain. “Better Together”, the campaign to say “No, thanks” surges ahead in the polls. Whether or not we could get back into the EU, that is where we will trade, and despite Cameron’s recent bungling our voice is stronger as a British voice.
I was never more consciousness of foreignness in my country than when cycling south out of Belfast I saw a wayside pulpit reading “No fire escape IN HELL”. The English have a softer Christianity than the Scots, less Reformed. Then again the only bit of Welsh grammar I know is that the imperative is formed by the ending -iwch, the w being a vowel, close to an English oo sound. As Welsh is an official language, signs must be bilingual. On the North Wales coast I saw a sign about dog poo, exhorting owners to “bag it and bin it”, and the translation was “bagiwch a biniwch”.
We transcend our foreignness. I go to a place with a different character when I cross the English border, but it is still my country, and both would be lessened if we called the other foreign. And the Ode to Joy stirs my heart too.
The house is a bungalow, with fields on one side, and rough ground down to the burn behind. The farm road, growing steadily more pot-holed, leads from the sea-loch where we swam and sailed to the farm buildings, beyond which is a hill sometimes with sheep. The living room, four yards by seven, has an open fire heating a boiler for water, and the piano. It is one side of the hall from the front door to the bathroom, in front of the dining room and kitchen, with three bedrooms on the other side.
The front boundary is a stob-and-wire fence. Dad put in the hedges, and the fruit trees: the plums ripen all at once, for jam, puddings and gorging. The other side of the house from the garage is the vegetable garden, with potatoes, peas, beans, and strawberries. Sometimes Dad grows tomatoes in the living room window. Round the back is a bank down to rough ground, with boundary markers but no fence. We cut a way through the ferns to the Old Laundry, a roofless hovel with a tree growing through it, “too dangerous” to climb on. Then there is the river, whence the farmer gets the water supply: he cut ours off one hot summer when there was hardly enough for his cattle, and we brought water from the village by car. The sewer goes to a septic tank behind the garage, then a soakaway, a pit filled with large stones. Dad dug this down one year, when it got clogged with earth. Dawson, down the road, had continual problems with his septic tank, detectable as we walked to the school bus.
With the dog, I walk along the stony beach, or up the hill, sometimes further to the trig point, though not so much when the sheep are there. Once, three sheep proceeded us down the single track road as we walked home, and we could not get past them. I walk along the river, balancing on stones in its bed or clambering up the banks, 60° steep in places, sometimes as much as twenty yards deep. Between the river and the Kilberry road are old trees. Looking out the kitchen window, washing up, we see the heron hunt there. On the loch there are swans: these sea-water swans can be aggressive, seeking to chase us away, breaking the farm-worker’s leg once.
The loch is deep and cold, but once wind tide and sun made the top 6″ warm for swimming, and in August I can undress on the rocks sticking out into the water, and dive in. Or we swam in a high swell, the water pulling on me so that I still felt it walking back up the road. Latterly we had a dinghy on a mooring, and kept a rowing boat on the beach, to get to it. Though I was a home body, sitting in my room with a book much of the time.
My friend’s school put on The Producers recently. Perhaps they thought it edgy for a child who learned German at his mother’s knee to wear a Nazi uniform, but with the grandchildren of combatants now in middle age, it is time to see the benefits of Nazism. I don’t mean all we have learned from them- “First they came for the Jews”, and I know that it is for me to do something about that, because I am a Jew- we learned that from their opponents. The Nazis were so wrong that what is right became crystal clear. The Nazis- testing the Wrong Way to destruction, so no-one else need ever go there. What I mean is all that is tempting about their ideology.
One tempting thing is the Ourselves Alone loyalty. So Foreigners are dangerous, and must be restricted: David Cameron portrays Romanians as benefit scroungers, and seeks to have them excluded from the country, playing on our fears and resentment.
Another is the black and white morality. Anti-abortionists can get together and feel one with the Group, a powerful and delightful feeling, and feel Right, which is even better. They are divorced from reality, but their feelings are wonderful. This causes suffering for others. The Northern Ireland Justice Minister is consulting on extending the category of permitted abortions from pregnancies which threaten the life of the mother to pregnancies where the baby could not survive outside the womb.
That anyone could imagine it was right to force a woman to go through with a pregnancy where the baby could not survive outside the womb is horrifying: and the other political parties have expressed opposition to the extension of the law.
Late abortions are normally in extreme situations, such as a threat to the life of the mother, or a foetus incompatible with life. Most abortions take place before twelve weeks. The woman has the right to choose. But this is not the tempting moral simplicity of the anti-abortionist, but a refusal to make a judgment on the woman, who will have feelings for her child, and will only have an abortion if she cannot see an alternative. It is not for me to decide. I refuse to define myself against the Outsiders, the Bad People.
I am not saying Mr Cameron is a nazi, merely that he had adopted a central plank of the nazi world view, rather than a peripheral one like Hitler’s vegetarianism.
-You can go the way we always go if you like, I
(I can’t remember what she said precisely, will/ want to/ would like to are very different in expression)
“go this way”.
I may dislike being merely polite, but they were having a stand-off. It would have been avoidable by her saying, just before she turned, “I quite fancy going this way for a change, do you mind?”
This is a scrap of dialogue, how people actually speak, and a moment which by the rule of Show don’t Tell I would expand, as I could not say straight out that this is a trivial thing to row about.
-He opens his mouth to speak, then his shoulders slump.
-Have it your own way- there follows an Unselfishness competition, encouraged by Screwtape (ch 26).
-Without a word, he goes off by the usual way.
-Sulks or flare-ups may continue to the evening.
I thought, setting out, that there was no point looking for blackberries, but thinking about that couple I found my attention grabbed by one ripe one, among all the shrivelled husks. Unconsciously, I had been looking out for it, and when it appeared my conscious attention zeroed in on it. It had a sweet, delicate flavour. Later, I saw a mauve flower (“wild flower”, “bird”, “tree” is usually specific enough for me) and spent time with its shocking oddity among the November greens and browns.
As I turned the corner a man called his dog, and asked me a question. I was more concerned about answering him- raising my voice still sounds male, to me, so- did I see the little dog do a shit? Er, no. After, I think how careful of him. He wants to clean up after his dog, and if it runs off he wants to be sure it has not messed somewhere. At the time I was concerned with other things. I saw him more clearly after. Or imposed different concerns and stereotypes of mine on him.
Should Scotland be independent? No. Given that we cannot tow ourselves out into the Atlantic, our trading circumstances remain the same. Now, we benefit from the Barnett Formula, and oil revenues are decreasing.
We will still have to negotiate with the English. But, now, some of the civil servants negotiating for Westminster are Scots, and others have affection for Scotland as part of our one country. Then, they won’t. We will still have to negotiate internationally, but have less weight.
Devolved, Scotland can have more Socialist policies, such as free residential care for the elderly, and no fees for university students to pay. Independent, Scotland might be unable to afford them.
This was going to be a full post, but I feel no need to say more.
My new voting system would divide Britain into fourteen regions, each with forty constituencies. Each constituency would elect one member of parliament, the one with the largest number of votes. Then all the votes of the region for each party would be added together, and ten additional seats in the Commons would be allocated, to make the proportion of members for each party in the region most closely resemble the proportion of votes. The candidates who got most votes would be given these additional seats.
An example. The Conservatives are strongest in rural constituencies, the Labour party in urban constituencies, and the Liberal vote is more evenly spread. Suppose the Conservatives with 35% of the vote came first in 18 constituencies, and the Labour party with 45% of the vote came first in 20, the Liberals with 17.5% of the vote came first in two, and the British National Party with 2.5% of the vote came first in none. Ten additional seats would make the membership of the Commons most closely resemble the proportion of voters for each party. The BNP with 2.5% get one MP, the one of their candidates who got most votes in her own constituency. The Liberals, with 17.5% of the vote, have 4% of the seats. They get seven of the additional members, to make up their proportion of members to their proportion of votes. The Conservatives have 35% of the vote, and 36% of the members. The Labour party have 45% of the vote, and 40% of the members. The Labour party get the other two additional members.
I chose forty constituencies and ten additional members simply to illustrate the system. Within this pattern, the number of constituencies and the number of additional members can be varied. Scotland would be one region, because of its national identity. Yorkshire has a strong regional identity. London, the vast urban sprawl, would be another.
The membership of the Commons would be proportionate to the votes of the country. Coalition government would be the norm, but then the Labour party is a coalition, with voters, members and MPs having widely differing views. There would be no tactical voting: a Labour voter in a strongly Tory constituency could know his vote would count. There would still be protest voting- a Conservative sick of his party but unwilling to vote Labour could vote Liberal.
That brings out the main difference from the Alternative Vote, on which we had a referendum last year. There, in a single member constituency a voter would list the candidates in order of preference. If one candidate got 50% of the votes, she would be elected. If not, the candidate with the least votes would have his second preference votes allocated between the other candidates. This would be repeated until one candidate had more than 50% of the votes.
The AV system as proposed would strongly favour the Liberals, as Conservative or Labour voters are far more likely to give their second vote to the Liberals than to the other main party. It would not, necessarily, make the membership of the Commons more proportionate.
My system, (not entirely original) would preserve the link between member and constituency, but also allow a Labour voter in a Conservative constituency to have a Labour MP, and complain to that MP. Purely regional lists give too much power to central party organisations: here, local members would select their candidate, and the second-placed candidates with the most votes would be elected. Independents could still stand, but have a better chance of being elected if they formed party alliances with candidates in nearby constituencies.
My system also illustrates that a very important question in voting system design is, one vote or more than one? More than one favours centre parties, and would particularly punish the Conservatives in Scotland, where the ruling Scottish National Party is on the Left, and few second preference votes would be Conservative.
After the Referendum defeated AV, voting reform is not a current issue, but I have enjoyed thinking through implications and criticisms, and tweaks to address shortcomings; and a different writing challenge. My pictures illustrate my belief that no-one can rule without the acquiescence of the people (influenced by persons of influence) and that unless the people are broken-spirited and starving, that means the consent of the people. It is far less painful with democracy.
What criteria are most important in designing a voting system?
It is always pleasing when the result goes so massively contrary to form, especially when it goes your way. With a try in the last minute! (Sporting language is always confusing. A “try” is a “success”.)
Unfortunately the facts got in the way of a good story. It was a penalty. And when I thought it was contrary to form- first win in Australia since 1982- it means retaining the Hopetoun Cup, as the last Test match at Murrayfield was also a win for Scotland. Unexpected but not incredible.
In Scotland and England, and around the World, football is more popular. Football, occasionally called “Association football” from the Football Association (of England), and therefore, occasionally, “Soccer”. In Wales, Rugby is more important, and they are fiercely patriotic about it.
I am Scots, and I am English: I am both, none of this half and half nonsense. The only time I am solely Scots is when Scotland is playing England at whatever. My fellow Scots and the Welsh disappoint me: many will want whoever is playing England to win. It feels to me like a perception of inferiority. We Scots think of the English all the time. They think of us occasionally.
Oddly enough, Swanston has a devoted group of rugby fans who could not care less about football, and I asked some about how they felt about the home nations. They do not care whether Scotland or Wales wins or loses, unless it affects England’s chances or final position in a competition. I thought that mean-spirited, I would have hoped that English rugby fans would have fellow-feeling for Scotland and Wales. It is indifference, though, rather than hostility.
On 9 June, Australia beat Wales 21-18.