The Scottish Government’s newly passed gender bill, the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill, has redefined the language used in the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA). A person is no longer reassigned a gender. This legislation now defines it as ‘becoming female’.

The GRA doesn’t actually believe that a man can become female. It’s purpose was to give a transsexual person legal recognition in their acquired gender.

The Equality Act 2010 uses the word ‘reassign’. To reallocate, to rename, to reappoint, to give, to transfer.

Nothing to do with ‘becoming’. To evolve into, to metamorphose, to turn into, to transform, change into

A male cannot ever become a female.

Words matter.

Within the Equality Act 2010, the protected characteristic Gender Reassignment is defined as:

The language has changed from

… undergoing a process for the purpose of ‘reassigning the persons sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex’ …

Equality Act 2010

to quite simply

… undergoing a process for the purpose of ‘becoming female’ …

Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018

This new Public Boards Act defines a ‘woman’ as including people with the protected characteristic Gender Reassignment. Crucially, for the first time in law, this includes trans people who self identify as women. There is no need to have went through the legal GRA process of obtaining legal recognition and a Gender Recognition Certificate.

We now have legislation that says a ‘woman’ includes trans people who are both biologically and legally male.

To process of gender reassignment was first defined as

The Equality Act then removed any need for medical supervision. Examples are included

Now, there is no need for any changes, either physiological, (whatever that means) or otherwise. To simple ‘become’ is enough.

Become female, not just assume the gender role of a woman, but actually become the biological sex ‘female’.

It’s not even vague like referring to the ‘female gender’ as it does within the GRA.

Equality Act 2010 sect 212(1) interpretation

”Woman’ means a female of any age’

”Man’ means a male of any age’

Draft Bill Consultation Responses

Can you spot the differences to the consultation responses from Feminist organisation Engender and Trans group Scottish Trans Alliance/Equality Network?

They are almost identical, both asking for exactly the same things. Remember this is legislation that was created to increase female representation on Public Boards, yet Scotland’s national feminist organisation are not only happy to redefine ‘women’ but they voice concerns that it isn’t inclusive of non-binary people.

As it processed through the various parliamentary stages a few amendments were suggested. Mary Fee MSP suggested the amendment to redefine ‘woman’ to include self identifying trans people without a Gender Recognition Certificate and the words ‘becoming female’. A ‘tie breaker’ clause was raised by Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP to confirm that another ‘protected characteristic’ could trump the protected characteristic ‘Sex’.

This allowed for the position to be given to ‘someone who is not a woman’, if he had a protected characteristic of an under-represented group ie race, disability.

Monica Lennon MSP says on improving women’s representation- it means nothing if it’s to help white middle class women when we could give it to a person who isn’t a woman instead??

It did not seem to occur to anyone that a woman may also have a protected characteristic of an under-represented group. (There has never been a women of colour elected to the Scottish Parliament. )

When the bill was first introduced there was no definition of ‘women’.

Scottish Trans Alliance made some suggestions and Mary Fee MSP was pushing very strongly for it to include non-binary people. (Non-Binary isn’t one of the Protected characteristics within the Equality Act, it’s inclusion would therefore be just as random as having a clause for people with ginger hair!)

Engender and Women 50 50 supported the proposal from Scottish Trans Alliance / Equality Network

Angela Constance Cabinet Secretary responds with amendments to include a definition of ‘woman’

The committee then vote and agree the amendment.

All 6 of them!

No further public consultation or evidence is needed!

It’s then returned to the parliament with the committees full support, and then passed. And that’s how a law is made.

This thread was originally posted on Twitter @Scottish_Women on 20/3/18. Link here.

Addition to original thread

The following are extracts from the Equality Network and Scottish Trans Alliance written submission to the Committee.

“We are concerned that there may be uncertainty about who is included in the term “women”.

It is crucial that the bill is written and implemented in a way that is clearly inclusive of all women, including transgender women who do not have gender recognition certificates.

However, we would argue very strongly that this terminology does need to be expanded. To ensure that all transgender women are included by the bill, our suggestion is that “woman” should be clarified within the bill (by amending section 2) as follows:

“woman” –
(a) includes a person with the protected characteristic of gender reassignment who is living in the female gender

It is vital that the bill is both written and implemented in a way which is inclusive and respectful of transgender people’s identities. It must not provide additional barriers to transgender people’s representation on public boards, or undermine their gender by appointing them on the basis of their formal legal sex when that is not the gender they identify and live as.

It is essential that this positive impact is felt by all women, and that there is not uncertainty about the inclusion of transgender women without gender recognition certificates in the gender representation objective. “

Scottish Trans Alliance/Equality Network

The public consultation on this Bill didn’t include anything about changing the definition of ‘Woman’, yet this strongly worded submission from a Trans group to the Committee of 6 people was enough to have it redefined.

We now have legislation confirming “Transwomen ARE women”.