BY EFFIE DEANS
Until relatively recently the UK Government was planning similar changes to the Gender Recognition Act that are now being proposed by the SNP. But after listening to the concerns of women it decided to reverse course. At present it is necessary to obtain a medical diagnosis and to wait at least two years before being allowed to legally change gender. That situation will remain in England and Wales, but not for us in Scotland. The SNP proposes to allow anyone to self-declare their gender before a notary or justice of the peace and for the process to take around six months.
Nicola Sturgeon of course wants Scotland to be different. This is the main reason why we have to wear masks while people in England don’t. It enables her to put up posters in airports with someone in a kilt telling passengers that in Scotland you have to wear a mask. But it’s not just that. The SNP have embraced woke with genuine fervour and are now seriously out of step with what most Scots of all political persuasions believe about gender.
I have long argued that the distinction between sex and gender is invented and reflects nothing real in nature. It is absurd to suppose that a bull has a different gender to its sex. But to suppose that people have a distinction that is not present in the animal kingdom is to suppose that we have a radically different biology to animals and somehow evolved a distinction between gender and sex that they lack. At what point did that occur and if it occurred millions of years ago why have we only recently discovered its existence?
I believe that the concept of gender dysphoria has in part resulted from people being told that it is possible to change gender. Prior to that it was simply not an option that occurred to anyone. We had to accept who we were. But I recognise that there are trans people who disagree with me and who genuinely wish to change gender.
Even those of us who do not think it is possible for a man to become a woman must recognise that gender dysphoria is real. But the correct response to someone believing something that is false ought not to be to tell him that it is true. This is to treat someone who believes he is Napoleon as if he really did win the Battle of Austerlitz.
But a trans person ought to be free to believe that men can become women so long as this freedom does not impinge on other people. I ought to be free to disagree on the same condition.
There are a variety of ways in which changing your gender identity might affect other people. We use gender to identify strangers. It is fundamental to our descriptions. We have certain spaces such as changing rooms, groups and societies which are reserved for women. Certain jobs may only be available to women. There are certain rights that women have and the law may apply differently to women and to men. This means that who is considered by law to be a man or a woman has consequences for all of us. It affects other people.
I may disagree that it is possible to change gender, but I accept that it is a response to gender dysphoria that a free society should allow. But at least the requirement for a medical diagnosis meant that the person who wished to change gender had to seriously consider the issue and had to convince a doctor that the desire was genuine and of long standing. This process would make it less likely that people who legally change gender would be opportunists. It provided a safeguard.
The SNP would remove every safeguard. Now anyone without any diagnosis can simply declare that they have changed gender and after a few months become that gender. The difficulty though is this. According to the mantra: Trans women are women. There is considered to be no valid distinction between biological women and trans women. But this means that trans women must logically have all of the rights and privileges of biological females. It is here where the freedom of one group comes into conflict with another.
The SNP promises that it will listen to the concerns of women and that the rights and protections of women enjoyed at present will be protected. But how? The only way to do so is to apply these rights to biological females and to deny them to trans women who are biologically male. We could for instance say that women’s changing rooms are reserved for women who are female. Women who are male must go elsewhere. But if we were to do this it would make the legal change of gender redundant. There would be two classes of women. One which is male and one which is female. It amounts to what we have now. But if we are to keep that distinction, why bother changing gender in the first place? This would also fatally undermine the idea that trans women are really women. There would be a class of biological women who got to use the women’s changing room and trans women who gained none of the rights they had hoped for by changing gender.
This is the dilemma for the SNP. Either they protect the rights of the biologically female by excluding the biologically male or they allow the biologically male into women only spaces. The whole process of allowing self-declaration becomes pointless if you exclude biologically male women from women only spaces and refuse to give them women only rights. For this reason, the SNP trans agenda will force it to allow people with male anatomy into places which up to now have been exclusively used by people with female anatomy.
This means that your daughter may end up in a tent in a guide camp with a girl with male anatomy. This girl will physically be able to rape her and will have the strength to do it. All he has to do is self-declare that he is she. It means that a woman’s prison will allow women with male anatomy who have been convicted of rape to share a cell with a young mother. It means that a lesbian will be deemed to be transphobic if she objects to being the lover of a woman with male anatomy. It means that if a man marries a woman, he has never slept with he would have no grounds for divorce or even objection if he woke up with two plugs and no socket.
I think the vast majority of the Scottish public thinks that we are born boys and girls and that this cannot change. That there is no choice involved. While we wish to be tolerant of trans people and to treat them with compassion and respect, we don’t want our whole world turned upside down. We don’t wish to forced to believe things that we consider to be bizarre.
Nicola Sturgeon said “Shame on you” when Murdo Fraser mentioned the concerns that women have. It shows that women will not be listened to by her government. But when the inevitable consequences of allowing male anatomy into female only spaces becomes apparent, let us at least hope that Scots wake up and say to Sturgeon shame on you for betraying women.
The excellent Effie Deans writes at Lily of St. Leonard’s here.