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
Trans women are males who want to be female. This can be approximated through surgery and other means but it is never fully achievable. We can decide as a society to treat trans women as if they were female (and trans men as if they were male)in most or all situations and I think it might be helpful to frame the debate this way.
Also note that there are two issues which continually get conflated – the issue of discrimination and oppression against trans people for being trans (transphobia) is not the same as making a distinction between cis women and trans women.
There’s a lot of truth in what you say, Lorna. “Women remain outrageously under-represented in politics, which remains dominated by men and entrenched by a toxic macho culture of online abuse.” Absolutely true and scandalous.
But let’s not forget that a significant amount of this abuse has been perpetrated in the name of “trans activism,” to shut down women who say there has to be a balance between trans people’s rights and the sex-based rights of women. The targets have included prominent politicians such as Joanna Cherry and Joan McAlpine; while those who have perpatrated this abuse, unfortunately, include Patrick Harvie, who used the slur of “transphobia” against MSPs and others meeting to discuss women’s sex-based rights in the Scottish Parliament, and called Joan McAlpine a “wanker”.
Yes, trans women are a marginalised minority in society and they deserve our support. But Stonewall and others have now broadened their definition of “trans”, from people suffering from gender dysphoria, to people who have a “gender identity” differing from their natal sex. We are meant to accept and validate a myriad gender identities or be accused of hate crime. It seems like the Greens have swallowed this trans ideology hook, line, and sinker, lending their full support to the SNP government’s attempts to remove medical gatekeeping from the process of gender reassignment, and supporting the hate crime bill that would criminalise speech that might stir up hatred, even unintentionally, based on a number of characteristics including gender identity. Sex, conspicuously, is absent from the list, so the bill would do nothing to stop the vile tide of misogynistic abuse.
I understand both pieces of legislation are now on hold. Not coincidentally, there has been a public backlash against these and other manifestations of trans ideology, as more members of the public have become aware of exactly what the government are proposing to do in the name of trans equality and how this might impact women’s rights.
In California, male prisoners who state they identify as women, non-binary or intersex will now be housed in women’s prisons. Anyone who doesn’t see the potential for abuse in this situation is willfully blind. Would the Green party promote the same policy for Scotland? It seem to me that this would be an inevitable consequence of the Scottish Government’s proposed GRA reform — not to mention the presence of trans- or non-binary-identified males in other spaces previously reserved to women.
It may well be true that, as you say, “There are no trans women councillors in Scotland.” But, correct me if I’m wrong, Green party policy now includes (for purposes of gender balance, e.g. on candidate lists) people who identify as non-binary, as if they were women?
There is, in fact, one transgender councillor in Scotland, who identifies as non-binary, Gregor Murray, who now sits as an independent in Dundee after resigning from the SNP. If Councillor Murray were to join the Green party, wouldn’t they be eligible to take a woman’s place on a gender-balanced shortlist, purely on the basis of their stated identity as non-binary? If so, this might not do much to stem the tide of online abuse, since Coun. Murray was themself suspended for two months for abusing a member of the public (see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-48295000) And, forgive me for saying so, but I don’t believe it would do anything at all to improve the representation of women’s concerns in politics, as I don’t believe Coun. Murray has any kind of real perspective on these concerns.
It’s time for the Greens to stop pretending that there is only one side to this story, stop parroting slogans like “no debate” (which was Patrick Harvey’s twitter header for a while, though he’s now replaced it with the Rainbow Greens’ “trans pride” flag) and accept that there needs to be an open and honest debate about how to balance trans people’s rights with the sex-based rights of women, without the rancour and abuse — almost entirely, to my knowledge, originating from trans activists, not feminists — that has hitherto characterised this subject. If not, the party risks being caught in the backlash that is growing around this issue.
Recently Joanna Cherry (on Any Questions: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000ms0p) proposed the idea of a citizens’ assembly to deliberate on how this balance might be struck. I think it would well behoove the Greens, given their stated commitment to direct democracy, to support this proposal and publicly affirm the need for an open debate.
Absolutely. As a party we must continue to address the lack of representation of trans people in politics. However, it is perfectly possible to do so without eroding the representation of women. Trans women are not a threat. It is the extreme trans activism that insists that women must move over to make space that is a threat. There is plenty of room for us all.
What Trans activism is saying “women must move over to make space”?