I will admit, I have paid little to no attention on this matter because over the past few months it has become such a toxic debate that it has put me off engaging in it, however, that being said I was highlighted to a tweet where a full on meltdown was taking place because a single occupancy toilet (somewhere in Edinburgh) decided to opt for a gender natural sign on the toilet door.
This sign somehow provoked a hugely disproportionate amount of anger with accusations of intruding on female spaces and the potential for severe harm to come to women etc.
It has even got to the point where people are moving away from supporting independence because of this. And with this, I have decided to read up on it and familiarise myself with the proposed changes.
Not only is this a toxic debate, that in my view has spiralled well out of context, but I am also a father of a daughter and a husband to my wife so I do have an interest in this (as far as I need to), but I was hoping to let the waters calm before speaking about my view on it…but alas, the waters appear to be getting rougher and rougher every day and some prominent independence supporters online are just rocking the boat way to much for me to not at least share my view.
Firstly, on the tweet about the gender neutral sign. I find it utterly baffling that this action could cause such a problem. I was recently in my local Lidl in Tain, and I found myself in the position of requiirng to use their customer WC. It is a single occupancy toilet, with one door and a lock. The sign on it is gender neutral because it doenst even have any genders on the sign, and guess what…there were no arguments or protests at this doors signage. A single occupancy WC only has one person in it, so it is a safe space…
When I responded to someone with this example, I was greeted with a response that just left me scratching my head in disbelief at the apparent herd mentality ignorance on this issue.
Let me again reiterate my desire to see my daughter and wife protected from any and all harm before you decide you have an opinion of my stance…
Anyway, back to the point.
I started reading the draft GRA bill, sourced below, and to be honest, I see very little wrong with it in its current form. I genuinely don’t see what the overly concerning rhetoric is related too when the context of the reform s fully appreciated.
I will admit that when the changes were first discussed, I believed the tweets about my daughters space not being there anymore, or her rights being taken away and it concerned me, and I formed a “weakened” view that the changes were wrong and unnecessary.
Let me try to explain why I no longer hold this view.
- the GRA reforms must be viewed alongside provisions laid forth in the Equalities Act 2010 (which is reserved).
- the alterations to GRA, in some instances actually provide better controls and transparency, and
- single sex spaces have protections
Let me quote a couple of paragraphs from the Scotland Bill to elaborate on these points.
“5.15. The 2010 Act allows women only services and allows services to exclude trans women when it is proportionate and in pursuit of a legitimate aim. Paragraph 28 of schedule 3 the 2010 Act sets out the exception which relates to trans persons, and provides:-
(1) A person does not contravene section 29, so far as relating to gender reassignment discrimination, only because of anything done in relation to a matter within sub-paragraph (2) if the conduct in question is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
(2) The matters are—
(a) the provision of separate services for persons of each sex;
(b) the provision of separate services differently for persons of each sex;
(c) the provision of a service only to persons of one sex.
5.16. The 2010 Act exception for single sex services will not change due to the proposals to reform the process for applying for a GRC. It will remain in place.”
Section 5.16 above clearly states that the exception for single sex services will not change due to the proposals to reforms the process for applying for a GRC. It will remain in place.
So how does this relate to single sex services excluding persons they choose to exclude?
“5.17. This provision would, for example, allow the operator of a domestic abuse refuge designed for women only to exclude a trans woman from the service if the operator judges that this is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. This is likely to involve carrying out a risk assessment.
5.18. Providers of services such as domestic abuse refuges may receive funding from the Scottish Government. As part of any application for funding, providers are asked to submit a plan on trans inclusion. Requiring an inclusion plan from funding recipients does not result in funding recipients being unable to rely on a relevant single sex exception. A recipient of the fund would be able to apply an exception which is available under the 2010 Act and could state as much in their inclusion plan.
5.19. All Scottish Government funding recipients must comply with the law, including the 2010 Act. It is for an individual organisation to make decisions as to service provision and how and when to use the exceptions within the 2010 Act”
In other words, if a women’s refuge feels that there is a legitimate threat to the safety of women from trans women, they can risk assess that potential and implement that exclusion. That seems fair to me, and in fact actually strengthens the case to make sure women only spaces are even safer, because, in the event that an issue arises, it would be fairly straight forward to argue that the operator did NOT risk assess the potential appropriately and did not put in adequate control measures which the law allows and dictates. This “pushing and pulling” in terms of potential legal consequences, will enhance the debate, and open up public discourse and enable operators of single sex services to properly risk assess what potential they feel exists and set exclusions if they choose.
Why this element of the debate has turned out to be Nicolas problem, or independence supporters problem is utterly baffling, and it leans me very heavily towards the idea that people are purposefully muddying the waters to cause division within the SNP and wider yes movement, and using women’s rights (or lack of) as the leverage in that.
Furthermore, the 2010 Act specifically mentions examples of when this may apply. Read the below in context to 5.19 above.
“Trans people with a GRC can still be excluded from single sex services, or provided with a different service if it is proportionate to do so on the facts of the individual case. Although reliance on this exception should be rare, it is most likely to be needed in particularly difficult and understandably sensitive areas, such as the provision of women’s domestic violence refuges. Whether it is proportionate to exclude a trans person would have to be judged by the service provider on a case by case basis, considering the trans person’s needs and the impact on other service users.”
Now I have seen many tweets of concern about men pretending to be women just to attack women as the argument against this, and I respectfully disagree with that. I do not think it is justified to exclude such a large group of people based on the potential actions of some. That is a dangerous road to go down, and the circumanstatces of enacting the GRA reforms, in my view, reassure me when it comes to the law protecting my daughter and wife. Predatory men, as the Cabinet Secretary mentioned in her response on this, will always find a way to abuse women. This is not a Scotland only issue, but it is not the single point of argument against GRA reforms, but sadly like I mentioned earlier, there are a few prominent independence supporters who cant step away from this point. They cannot see that nature of the GRA reforms because of a fear to the diminishing of their own rights, which, is explicably not accurate in this context, or they simply want to cause division within Scotlands independence movement.
It would appear to me that the changes are being implemented so as to step away from the labelling of trans people, to one of inclusion, whilst allowing those who provide women’s services the opportunity, and legal right to deny trans people using those services should they see it as a legitimate concern to those women.
That, in my view, is as strong a case as any moving forward, and its one we are all used to in everything we do in our lives.
I could go on for some time on this, and I hope I will not be “attacked” for holding this view, as it appears many are, but as someone who was sceptical about this reform a few months ago when it all kicked off, after reading the proposals, I do not feel any more concerned for my daughter, or wifes wellbeing as I do today, and as an exceedingly protective father, that is good enough for me as the legislation moves forward and is refined more.
So on that, if you feel my view is not to your liking, please block me, or unfollow me because I am fed up seeing so many hate filled tweets and comments on this that is pushing independence further away when we need it to be closer than ever!