In 1997 the Scottish devolution referendum showed that the Scottish people were in favour of two things, that Scotland should have its own parliament (Holyrood) and that Holyrood should have tax varying powers. This lead to the Scotland Act 1998, which laid out the legislative path to the devolution deal between Westminster & the Scottish Parliament. While the devolution deal was considered one of the most radically progressive of its time, Westminster still included a fail safe: Section 35. It was passed across the board after reassurances were given to MP’s by the government that it was a last resort, after they had raised some concerns over the potential use of Section 35 as a veto.
This veto power of Westminster exists to block Holyrood bills that undermine the authority of Westminster or would make the enacting of existing law more difficult. According to Scotland secretary Alister Jack, that’s what the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform bill does and so he has blocked it.
(You can find his justification on the .gov website here. It’s still a steaming pile of bull faeces, mixed with pig slop)
Jack said in a statement:
“After thorough and careful consideration of all the relevant advice and the policy implications, I am concerned that this legislation would have an adverse impact on the operation of Great Britain-wide equalities legislation.”
How please, Mister Jack, do you suggest a lowering of a minimum age, and a more easily obtained certificate would somehow allow that to happen?
According to him, it would make the operation of the Equality Act 2010 more complex in terms of protecting single sex spaces.
How exactly, you floppy haired sentient swine scrote?! It’s not like I, as a trans man, need to show my Passport or Birth Certificate or Gender Recognition Certificate to use men’s spaces. I just need to pass enough to not be questioned. Though, of course, it’s not men’s spaces they’re worrying about, is it?
No. It’s the old and repeatedly debunked fear mongering of Trans Women in women’s spaces that they’re concerned about. After all, Trans men are largely overlooked when it comes to the fear mongering, due to us being assigned female at birth (AFAB) and therefore “naturally” smaller and weaker or some other such bollocks. Trans men couldn’t possibly be a threat, could we?! No. Not a bit. But, neither are Trans women. Trans men are inconvenient. Our mere existence is enough to call their concerns and claims about Trans people into question.
This particular line of argument came about due to the text of the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform bill, which enables Trans people to access a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) after only 3 months of living as their identified gender, and does away with the requirement of a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria in order to get one. Anti-trans activists will swear on the graves of their family members that their fear of this merely comes from concern about women’s safety, but they’re full of shit. If they gave a blithering shit about the safety of women, Trans women would be included in that, and the misandry they push that paints AFAB people as deranged, man-hating lunatics, would be dropped.
In Northern Ireland in 2021, a judge ruled that the requirement for a GRC being a Gender Dysphoria diagnosis is “unjustified”. This was after the World Health Organisation (WHO) had stopped classifying being Transgender as a disorder in 2019, moving instead to a description of “Gender Incongruence”. Which, is all together a different thing. Gender Incongruence refers to having a gender identity that differs from the gender assigned at birth, whereas dysphoria specifically refers to the various forms of mental strain that can arise from dealing with Gender Incongruence. Not every transgender person has diagnosable gender dysphoria because diagnoses need to meet very specific diagnostic criteria, and dysphoria is vastly variable, going from debilitating to the most minor of discomforts during very specific occasions. Some would even say that they don’t think they have dysphoria at all.
There was a surprising lack of concern about the minimum age limit lowering, though. It was like Alister Jack’s speech writer just had a notebook of handy anti-trans talking points and just picked one at random.
The reactions of the media, the public, the SNP, and even cross party MPs, including the Tory Reform Group, has been that of fury, frustration, concern and worry. With the Scottish Parliament talking about taking the UK Parliament to court in order to prevent the order from blocking the legislation. With all that in mind: what exactly were the Tories expecting? The only outcome of any of this that I can see so far, is a political shit show in the Commons that just shines an even brighter light on Trans people than is already there. Additionally, I’d be entirely unsurprised if it was then used to lead into the next General Election to fish for the bigot vote with culture war rhetoric. Additionally, if the Scottish government decides to go through with their plans of taking Westminster to court over a misapplication of the block, I can’t say for sure it’ll go in their favour because the reasons laid out by Alister Jack are directly from the anti-trans playbook. It depends entirely on whether or not the judge that takes the case has been bought in by their rhetoric, transphobic dog whistles and “Gender Critical” propaganda.
I know that things feel hopeless right now. I know that it seems that the attacks are coming from every angle and there’s no person in any position of power on our side. I promise you, that’s not the case.
There was audible uproar in the commons from MPs who took umbrage with Jack’s fucking silly assertions that the 2010 Equality Act couldn’t be amended to be more inclusive, and the Gender Recognition Reform bill couldn’t possibly reach royal assent, all because the Equality Act had cross-party support. New motions, new amendments and new text is tacked on to existing legislation all the fucking time. The Scottish Secretary appears to merely be trying to find post-hoc justifications for his own pre-conceived biases.
There are protests in London, Leeds, Glasgow and Dundee on Saturday (21/01/23), but you can also write to your MPs, turn up at their surgery sessions, let them know that you disagree with their decision, heck, even contact Alister Jack himself and complain. Our Cis allies can also participate and show the Tory party that the majority of people aren’t actually super anti-trans and don’t give a sod about single sex spaces in that way, nor do any of us support the over-medicalisation of transgender people and our struggles.
If you know of any other protests, spread the word as much as you can, in as many places as you can (and let us know too) The more of us who show how absolutely ridiculous the use of Section 35 is right now, the better. If you’re going to protests, remember to do so safely, you can find plenty of resources on the internet for how to protest safely.
There are still things we can do. Even if these options feel pointless, just having the knowledge that we’re actually doing something is often enough to validate our anger and upset, and make our most vulnerable community members feel a bit less alone and bolster our stubbornness and fight to prevent many of us giving up entirely.