There is an equitable solution

Iain Macwhirter at The Herald Scotland:

WHEN I started writing about the trans self-identification issue nearly two years ago it was with the utmost trepidation. Questioning, or even discussing, the proposal that men should be able legally to become women merely by making a declaration of such, was regarded as transphobia, homophobia, bigotry.

Cultural and health bodies, and even the Scottish Government, were ceasing to use the very word “woman” in case it offended male-bodied transwomen. Bizarre substitutes like “womxn”, “menstruators” and “ciswomen” were being deployed in the cause of inclusivity.

Which – to belabor the obvious – is a very warped way to use the word “inclusivity.” The word should mean not excluding people from public events and institutions and the like for no good reason: a public quarantine during an epidemic is a good reason; misogyny and xenophobia and racism are bad reasons. The word should not mean including white people in the category “black people” or bosses in the category “workers” or gentiles in the category “Jews” or men in the category “women.”

Inclusivity used to mean including all women in the category women, and more specifically doing the work to include all women, by reaching out and recruiting and making room. It did not mean including men, and it didn’t give a rat’s ass how men “identified.” But that was then.

Nicola Sturgeon evidently regarded Self-ID as the new frontier of progressive legislation. With the minimum of public discussion, she committed the Scottish Government to abolishing the very definition of woman as “adult human female”. (That phrase is regarded as hate speech by some police forces).

Well, times change. This issue is now out in the open. More and more women are speaking out against the undermining of sex-based rights.

Influential figures in the SNP, like the former communications guru, Kevin Pringle, are now urging Nicola Sturgeon to follow the UK Government. But the Scottish Equalities Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville, apparently intends to press ahead with legislation to allow self-ID. Mr Pringle is speaking for many in the party who now realise that the growing backlash against Self-ID could threaten the SNP’s chances in next year’s Holyrood elections.

It has been left to genuinely courageous women like Joan McAlpine MSP and Joanna Cherry, MP, to fight for reason. For doing so they have been the target of astonishing abuse on social media, and from the trans activists embedded in the SNP.

But there is an equitable solution. Of course allow transwomen to identify as female without needless bureaucratic obstacles. But the Government should make clear in the legislation reforming the Gender Recognition Act that this does not mean abolishing the biological definition of sex or infringing women’s sex-based rights under the Equalities Act.

You’d think that a feminist like Nicola Sturgeon would regard that as self-evident. Perhaps she does. But if so she needs to say it loud and clear before half the voting population – women – turn against the SNP.

Here’s hoping.

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