Grassroots Women’s groups are forming all across Scotland as a direct result of concerns about the review of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and its proposed introduction to legalise the ability that a person can Self Declare their Sex. At present the law requires a medical report confirming a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria and a two year waiting period. The proposed reform would no longer require either of these two criteria and would simply be a matter of Self Declaration. This is very concerning for many women as our equality laws protect us on the basis of our Sex. Therefore, there will be a significantly increased safeguarding issue if males can simply declare they are female and therefore be permitted entry into single sex spaces such as Hospital Wards, Women’s Prisons, Women’s Refuges, communal accommodation and changing rooms. On top of these single sex spaces being compromised so too will the grants or scholarships aimed at women and girls to increase their participation in areas where they are underrepresented like careers in STEM subjects or All Women Shortlists for political parties. Also, the fairness and competitiveness of sports for women and girls will be completely destroyed if male bodied people are able to compete alongside them.
The national women’s organisations in Scotland have all publicly stated that they support the proposed reforms, and as such many women believe these organisations no longer represent their views and that has lead to grassroots groups being formed. I have been involved with many of these groups and it is my belief that women should be empowered to come together on these issues and more importantly for their voices to be heard. We should no longer be overlooked or dismissed and most crucially, it needs to be recognised that the national women’s organisations do not represent all the women of Scotland. Authorities must reach out beyond these national organisations and ensure they engage with ALL women’s groups for our views when they are creating new policies or guidance that will directly impact us. There has been an utter failure of public authorities so far to engage directly with the women and girls negatively impacted by their revised policies over the last few years, for example the Scottish Prison Service did not consult with any female prison staff or prisoners when they created a policy that houses male prisoners who identify as trans into Women’s Prisons, or the countless Local Authorities who have endorsed school guidelines that permit male pupils who identify as trans to share PE changing rooms, toilets and overnight accommodation with our daughters.
It is my vision that these Local Women’s Groups, whilst maintaining their own individual status as an independent group have close connections with all the other groups across the country. It is important that during this difficult time we all support one another and by doing so it will encourage other women to come forward. There can be no hierarchical structure for this group network, as we all have a right for our views to be heard, and local campaigning is where we will gain our strength and ultimately where we will benefit. We must be very cautious and not risk creating a further national group where once again individual women and local issues are overlooked or ignored as being less important. We must all be ‘friends and allies’ of one another, share our knowledge and offer our support to each other. By identifying our individual group aims we can all then work together to achieve them. There are many women out there who can assist you if you want to form your own group, and do not think that you are isolated, as it is our views that have the majority of the public support. Our greatest obstacle so far has been with those who hold the minority view as they have had the power and influence to steer policy changes which then negatively impacts all of us. There is no democracy in this current situation as none of us have any say in who leads the national women’s organisations. This is why it has never been more an important time as now to come together and demand our voices be heard.
I have a website that has blog posts detailing the many issues affecting women and girls in Scotland. http://www.Scottish-Women.com These blog posts can be printed out or their links shared with others. I also have social media accounts both on Facebook and Twitter where I regularly post updates and where I can be also be contacted. You are not alone as there are many, many women out there who can assist you, and we all need the support of each other.
It is now the responsibility of every single one of us to make this change happen, no one else will be doing it for us.
The time to take action is now!
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