Trans women are not a threat to women. They are women.
The Scottish Greens are unique in our structure of leadership. We have two co-leaders, and at least one of them must be a woman. That means we could have two women as co-leaders, if that is how the votes go. On our candidate lists, we have measures to ensure that women move up, never down.
The reason for this is about representation. Women remain outrageously under-represented in politics, which remains dominated by men and entrenched by a toxic macho culture of online abuse. As things stand 65% of MSPs are men. 72% of Councillors in Scotland are men.
It’s heart-breaking that women are discouraged from standing and we’ve seen some high-profile women stepping back from politics at the next Holyrood election. It’s clear we must do all we can to support women to represent us.
All of this is even worse for trans women. In terms of representation, there are no trans women MSPs in Scotland. There are no trans women councillors in Scotland. There are no public figures in Scottish political parties who are trans women. None.
Of course, this is not the fault of trans women. Trans people make up less than 0.3% of the population and have almost no representation anywhere. Trans people have trouble finding employment, they are not CEOs or TV presenters, they are not represented in public life at all and, in fact, increasingly have trouble finding a public toilet that they can use safely. This makes trans people some of the most marginalised and under-represented in our society, unable to participate fully in public life, because of active prejudice against them.
On top of that, the same toxic culture of online abuse can have serious consequences.
As a result of this terrible ostracization, they are much more vulnerable to poor mental health, more likely to self-harm or have suicidal thoughts. There has been an increasing threat of violence towards them as a result of being portrayed as predators, perverts or zealots. As a result of a lack of understanding of their needs, funding and training it is almost impossible for trans people to get appropriate and timely healthcare, putting their lives in danger.
Trans women are not a threat to women. They are women. Any concern about under-representation of women in politics must not exclude them, because to deny their existence only adds to these problems and places them in more danger. What’s more, denying trans people representation only further embeds the misogyny of a system dominated by white, able bodied, cis men.
We’re committed to representation. This is why the Scottish Greens women’s network has created a supportive environment to encourage and promote women and non-binary candidates to stand and make sure their voices are heard.
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Image credit: Torbakhopper – Creative Commons