Jan 23, 2023

Is not what it seems

OK, I’m just going to put this out there. The Scottish National Party are playing independence politics, and it is trans people who are caught in the crossfire.

In my opinion (and I’m coming at this as a cynic rather than a conspiracy theorist), the SNP have probably been looking for an issue like this for a while; one where they can force the UK Government into invoking Article 35 of The Scotland Act and prevent a Scottish law being passed. By doing so, Nicola Sturgeon can shout loudly that Scottish sovereignty has been undermined – and the only way for Scots to pass their own laws is by becoming fully independent. I understand in a recent speech,* she has said: “The Tories have broken cover. The stealth attacks have been joined by a full-frontal assault – the decision of the Tory Government to strike down a law clearly within devolved competence which was passed overwhelmingly in the Scottish Parliament, and which was supported by MSPs from all parties… through his actions, the UK Government Secretary of State for Scotland is demonstrating he is sadly not interested in working in partnership… He’s decided to act like a Governor-General: treating the Scottish Parliament as a subordinate body and deciding which democratic decisions and laws to veto.”

I get it about recognising gender-change. I get it that there are valid arguments on both sides of the issue. For women, it is a concern if a man can simply self-declare that he is now female, then march unchecked into a women-only space. And for trans people, who are already marginalised, this is society saying that they are better supported in what must be a very difficult change to their lives. Truly, I get it. And the UK government gets it as well, as this law puts Scottish trans people on a different footing to those in the rest of the UK – meaning that if they leave Scotland, their rights are not the same. So, for example, a 17-year-old trans person with a valid Gender Recognition Certificate in Scotland would find that certificate is worthless as soon as they cross the border. They could be thrown into the prison of their birth gender, or excluded from certain restricted spaces. Which is why the UK Secretary of State for Scotland had no alternative but to veto the bill.

But – and this is the crux of my argument – I cannot believe that a law that affects 20-30 people a year in Scotland, and may possibly benefit up to 300 when (if) it passes, is so fundamental to the Scottish government that it is prepared to go into battle with the UK government on this issue.

Unless the issue is not actually trans rights, but Scottish Independence.

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