Susan Sinclair - Scottish Women

Independent Research on Women's Rights

About

I have written about a number of different topics that are impacting negatively on women and girls in Scotland and I’ve tried before to come up with a list that I could publish here but it always got too long. However, what I did come to realise was that they were all based around the current law that protects us, i.e. The Equality Act 2010.

How strange it is to then find myself campaigning for the current law to be upheld and maintained, aren’t campaigns usually about wanting a change to the status quo? And that’s where we have the problem, somehow over time practices have been changing and they no longer align with the current law. Confusion on the understanding of what our protections are is widespread across most public authorities and this is what needs to be addressed. We need to undo the damage that has been done and we need clarity on the law to do that.

So, here I am campaigning for the current practices to cease and request that the Government & Public Authorities perform their legal duties to the members of the public and do what is required of them within our current equality laws.

Campaign Aims

Below are my five aims, they are all closely linked with one another but I think if we can achieve these then we will be heading in right direction.

Aim #1

Amend the definition of ‘Woman’ within the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018 to accurately reflect the definition as per the Equality Act 2010. This Public Boards Act has set a UK precedent by redefining the meaning of ‘Woman’ to include self identifying women. A legal process already exists in the UK that enables trans people to have their preferred gender legally recognised and this Act weakens the importance of the requirements as set in the Gender Recognition Act 2004. The Equality Act 2010 acknowledges the fact that Women and Girls are discriminated against on the basis of their sex with the existence of the protected characteristic ‘Sex’. This Public Board Act now dilutes those legal protections by veering away from the definition of ‘Sex’, both biological and legal, and now sets a worrying precedent for all future legislation e.g. proposed Census Act amendments. The public consultation for this Bill did not include any proposals to redefine the meaning of ‘Woman’, as it was a late amendment agreed by the Committee and Government.

Aim #2

Women’s and Girl’s Organisations who offer single sex services and/or spaces will receive clear factual guidance about the single sex exemptions as set out in the Equality Act 2010. This will empower those service providers to choose whether or not they then use those legally entitled exemptions. Any Government or Local Authority funding allocated to these organisations should not be based on the requirement that they are inclusive of trans people, regardless of the status of their legal gender. The workers, volunteers and most importantly the users of these services MUST be consulted if the organisations plan to no longer utilise the single sex exemptions. It must also be made explicitly clear to the users which organisations are no longer providing single sex services or spaces. Women and girls should be entitled to make informed choices about the spaces and services they use.

Aim #3

Groups who receive Government funding to deliver Equality and Diversity training across a wide range of Public Authorities must make the material and guidance they provide publicly available. The information and materials must be reviewed for legal accuracy with particular attention to be paid to the correct definitions and understanding of the protected characteristics. Clear and accurate advice surrounding the use of single sex exemptions, as outlined within the Equality Act 2010, must be provided. Public bodies must be reminded of their requirements as per the Public Sector Equality Duties regulations during all training inputs.

Aim #4

Policies, practices and guidance within all public sectors must be reviewed to ensure legal accuracy and compliance with the Equality Act 2010. Particular attention must be given to the protected characteristics, ensuring that correct definitions and understandings are clear. Where relevant, accurate guidance surrounding the use of the single sex exemptions, as outlined within the Equality Act 2010, must be provided. Full Equality Impact Assessments must always be completed especially if any change of policies or practice involves choosing not to apply single sex exemptions. This is of particular importance in services such as Women’s Prisons, Women’s refuges, Women and Girls sports, Single Sex Hospital Wards and any provision of single sex communal accommodation or changing room. Consultation with women’s groups and/or users of these services or spaces MUST always be carried out before any changes are implemented.

Aim #5

Groups who receive Government or Local Authority funding to deliver teacher training and/or lessons to schoolchildren on the topics of LGBT or Equality and Diversity must make their material and guidance they provide publicly available. The information and materials must be reviewed for legal accuracy with particular attention to be paid to the correct understanding of the legal definitions being used. Parents must be notified before any inputs are delivered to their children and if required, their consent sought. Informed consent can only be given if lesson plans and material are known in advance. It is essential that lessons on these topics are delivered sensitively and contain a fair balance of views. The contentious public discourse reveals there is no agreement around the terms gender and gender identity, yet groups across the country are going into schools and teaching children a one sided view, and parents are not even informed.

Campaign Aims

  • Aim #1 – Amend the definition of ‘Woman’ within the Public Boards Act to accurately reflect the definition as per the Equality Act 2010.
  • Aim #2 – Women’s and Girl’s Organisations who offer single sex services and/or spaces will receive clear factual guidance about the single sex exemptions.
  • Aim #3 – Groups who deliver Equality and Diversity training must make the material and guidance they provide publicly available and be reviewed for legal accuracy.
  • Aim #4 – Policies, practices and guidance within all public sectors must be reviewed to ensure legal accuracy and compliance with the Equality Act 2010.
  • Aim #5 – Groups delivering teacher training or lessons to schoolchildren must be fair & balanced, and parents are fully informed of the content.

Below are my posts

Inaccurately recording male sex offenders as women

There has been a lot of attention this week on Police Scotland with the media reporting that they will record rapes as being committed by a woman if the offender identifies as female, whether or not they have a legal gender recognition certificate (GRC). When JK Rowling sent a tweet about it this attention went…

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Background to the 2021 Census

The debate over the definition of ‘Sex’ within the Census continues or more accurately, the debate over the accompanying guidance. This guidance explains that the person can select “whichever answer best describes your sex” ONS or “the answer you give can be different from what is on your birth certificate” NRS , thereby transforming the…

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Government cites deeply offensive research to support Self ID reform

In 2018 the Scottish Government held a consultation of its proposals to review the Gender Recognition Act 2004, making it easier for a person to be legally recognised as the opposite sex.   The current law was designed for those people with the most extreme version of Gender dysphoria (or transsexualism as it was previous called)…

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Why exactly is the Census Sex question to be changed to one about Gender?

During the early preparations for the Census 2021 there was a consultation about which topics should be included and a submission from the Scottish Government’s Equality Unit was received, stressing the need for collecting data on Gender Identity. Including this question, they said, would assist with the provision of the ‘very specific health needs’ of…

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School Toilets: Where are we now?

The Scottish Government opened a consultation between 17 July 2017 and 9 October 2017 with proposals to amend the School Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations 1967, with the section on Pupil Toilets describing that currently Regulations: state that half the accommodation shall be for boys and the other half for girls do not…

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Sexual Harassment in School Information Sheet

Media reports School sex crime reports in UK top 5,500 in three years (BBC Sept 2015) Revealed: catalogue of sexual assault and misogyny in Scottish classrooms (The Herald Aug 2016) Most girls have been sexually harassed at school, study finds (The Tines Dec 2016) New report reveals schools ignoring sexual harassment can be sued by…

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It’s NOT a human right to self declare your sex!

“The new law will make it simpler and less intrusive for trans people to access their human right to legal gender recognition” – Ian Blackford SNP Em … I don’t think it is a human right for any person to self declare legally as the opposite sex?! The Council of Europe Human Rights Commission has…

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Collect Sex-disaggregated data! Caroline Criado Perez

Caroline Criado Perez attended the First Ministers National Advisory Council for Women and Girls (NACWG) Circle Meeting in Glasgow today (26/6/19). Discussing the research outlined in her book ‘Invisible Women’ her key message was: Equality doesn’t mean treating everyone the same Collect sex-disaggregated data Remember diversity isn’t a tick box Now that Caroline Criado Perez…

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Ministerial statement update: Review of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act

I welcome today’s (20/6/19) Ministerial statement from Cabinet Secretary Shirley Anne Somerville in the Scottish Parliament on the update on Scottish Government Review of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act. You can watch the full statement here on the Scottish Parliament TV Or you can read it in and other statements in this report (page 48…

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Changing the GRA will impact the Equality Act – Part 1

The Scottish Government have proposed reforms to the Gender Recogntion Act 2004 one of which is to remove the need for applicants to have a medical diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria. Full details of the current requirements and proposals can be read here. Probably the most frequent response we hear when anyone raises any concerns about…

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Scottish Womens Aid Guidance for supporting Transwomen

The Women and Equalities Committee of the UK Parliament heard evidence from a representative of Womens Aid in England & Wales on 22/5/19, during which she referenced a Scottish Womens Aid guidance from 2015. I think the reference to the Scottish Womens Aid guidance is this one here. It contains details about trans inclusion, the…

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Sex and Gender were intentionally conflated in the GRA consultation

Interestingly, what I found out through my FOI request was not only did the Equality Network actively lobby the Scottish Government to intentionally conflate the terms sex and gender within the GRA consultation document. They admitted that despite understanding the widely accepted differences between the terms sex and gender they deliberately use their own definition…

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Response to Shirley-Anne Somerville’s blog

I welcomed Shirley-Anne Somerville’s blog and was able to mostly agree with her words right up until this point – “But it means the problem we face is not one of trans women wanting to feel safe and accepted – it is one of how we protect and safeguard women against potentially abusive men. That’s…

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School resource for young Lesbians

Education Scotland promote a school resource aimed at young lesbians, as an inclusive and positive guide, to respect all partners, including trans, cis, non-binary and intersex, with explicit guidance for when “either you or your partner has a penis”. Here’s Education Scotland tweeting links to the resources. When you click on the link, the first…

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Women’s rights must be respected

It is currently impossible for a woman to have a discussion about her rights just now without being accused of attempting to ‘roll back trans rights’. Women generally had a good grasp of what we were legally entitled to in respect of single sex provisions, yet this reality has become very muddied in recent times.…

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Open letter to Angus Council

Dear Angus Council Regulations 15 & 16 of The School Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations 1967 state that the Sanitary Accommodations for pupils are to be split half for boys and half for girls, this applies for both WC’s and wash areas. The Regulations make no reference to unisex or ‘gender neutral’ facilities. …

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Open letter to Dundee City Council

Dear Dundee City Council Regulations 15 & 16 of The School Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations 1967 state that the Sanitary Accommodations for pupils are to be split half for boys and half for girls, this applies for both WC’s and wash areas. The Regulations make no reference to unisex or ‘gender neutral’…

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Open letter to City of Edinburgh Council

To City of Edinburgh Council In response to a Freedom of Information request City of Edinburgh Council referenced regulations 15/16 of The School Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations 1967, which states that the Sanitary Accommodation’s for pupils are to be split half for boys and half for girls. This applies for both WC’s…

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Open letter to East Renfrewshire Council

Dear East Renfrewshire Council Regulations 15 & 16 of The School Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations 1967 state that the Sanitary Accommodations for pupils are to be split half for boys and half for girls, this applies for both WC’s and wash areas. The Regulations make no reference to unisex or ‘gender neutral’…

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Scottish Futures Trust

“We are an infrastructure delivery company owned by the Scottish government.” “We work with every local authority across Scotland to push forward Scottish Government’s Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme.” “Our role is to efficiently manage the programme to help local authorities achieve the very best value from their investment in new schools.” “When the…

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NACWG Plans to Legislate Candidate Quotas, but who are they targeting?

The First Minister’s National Advisory Council on Women and Girls (NACWG) published their First Report and Recommendations today. It details what had been their focus in 2018 and by grouping the issues identified across three themes, Leadership, Accountability and Creating Conditions, have made the following recommendations. Leadership • Create a ‘What Works?’ Institute to develop…

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CENSUS BILL – Who exactly is driving this change?

In October 2018 the Committee called for evidence in relation to the proposals outlined within the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill, namely to introduce voluntary questions about gender identity and sexual orientation, and add a reference of “gender identity” to the mandatory Sex question within the schedule of matters of the census bill.  The Committee then…

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Women’s Sport Information Sheet

There is a growing pattern amongst sporting institutes who are announcing they have a trans inclusive approach to participation in sports. This extends to individuals who do not have legal recognition of their preferred sex. There are many examples worldwide but I will limit examples below which directly affect Scotland.

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Prison Information Sheet

This Prison information sheet contains links to policies, media articles, legal findings and expert opinions. It may assist anyone who has concerns in this area and is wanting to raise them with their MSP for example. Please feel free to share its link with others. This is a link to the Scottish Prison Service Policy.…

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What’s the priority, Gender or Sex?

In May 2018 the Scottish Government published their first ‘Position Statement’ on the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women Article I For the purposes of the present Convention, the term “discrimination against…

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Gender Recognition Act Reform Information Sheet

On 9th Nov 2017 the Scottish Government opened a consultation about reviewing the Gender Recognition Act 2004.  It closed on 1st March 2018 having received over 15,500 responses, of which only 49% were from respondents resident in Scotland.  In November 2018 the Government published its independent analysis of the responses, and to date have not…

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Councils’ ‘gender neutral’ school toilets ignore Children & Young People’s Commissioner Scotland’s call for a Human Rights approach

Last year the Scottish Government opened a public consultation for possible changes to the regulations that govern school toilets and many objections to the option of introducing gender neutral toilets were made. Strong calls from the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland (CYPCS) emphasised the importance that “school toilet facilities (be) compliant with human rights…

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Public Sector Equality Duty #AsktheMinister

On Thursday 6/12/18 the Scottish Parliament Equalities and Human Rights Committee met with Christina McKelvie MSP , the Minister for Older People and Equalities for an ask-the-Minister session. In the week or so leading up to this session the Committee had taken the move to ask members of the public via Twitter and Facebook for…

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Lobby Group Tactics used at Census Bill Oral Evidence

I’ve posted before that Trans Lobby Groups use the same two tactics whenever they are campaigning for changes to legislation, policies etc #1 We are already doing it #2 It won’t make a difference to anyone else, because the number of trans people / non-binary are so low On Thursday 6/12/18 the CTEEA Committee heard…

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CTEEA Committee Hear Evidence on Census Bill Part 1

On Thursday 6/12/18 the Scottish Parliament CTEEA Committee met to consider the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill at stage 1. They heard evidence from two panels. The first panel were Rosa Freedman, professor of law, conflict and global development at the University of Reading; and Susan Smith of ForWomen.Scot. The second panel were Vic Valentine, the…

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LGBT Lobby Groups tactics for changing legislation

The LGBT Lobby Groups tactics for changing legislation, policies, guidance and practice has pretty much been consistent in recent years when you look back over everything that they’ve been successful in changing. There’s only two and they really are very simple. #1 We are already doing it #2 It won’t make a difference to anyone…

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Campaign Aims

I have written about a number of different topics that are impacting negatively on women and girls in Scotland and I’ve tried before to come up with a list that I could publish here but it always got too long. However, what I did come to realise was that they were all based around the…

Keep reading

“Feminists fight against gender choice in census”

Headline from an article in The Times Scotland Too right we’re fighting back! Scottish women won’t put up with this anymore! #SexNotGenderIdentity Prof Rosa Freedman @GoonerProf will give evidence to the Committee @SP_European on Thursday. Fantastic!! The Trans Lobbyist tactics for changing legislation 1/ We are already doing it 2/ It won’t make a difference…

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National Records of Scotland Census FoI request

The Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill is currently working its way through the Scottish Parliament. The amendments proposed are to include questions on gender identity and sexual orientation. I’ve written about it before and also submitted written evidence to the Committee. However, the explanatory notes accompanying the Bill raised some questions for me. Specifically around the…

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Census Bill Written Submission

I welcome the proposal to amend the 2021 Census to enable data to be collected on Sexual Orientation and Trans, however clarity and further public consultation is required before the term ‘Gender Identity’ is written into any legislation. The Explanatory Notes accompanying the Bill state – “Sex already includes the gender with which a person…

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#AsktheMinister

On Thursday 6th December 2018 the Equalities and Human Rights Committee will take evidence from Christina McKelvie, Minister for Older People and Equalities. The Committee used Facebook and Twitter to request questions from the public, a selection of which will be put to her. Here are the questions I asked via my Twitter Account @Scottish_Women…

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Update: Reply from the Scottish Government

On 22/8/18 I met with Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People. This meeting covered topics such as the review of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, the increasing Sexual Harassment and sexist bullying of school girls and how it was not explicitly named within the National Anti-Bullying Approach: Respect For All,…

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Census Bill to change question on Sex to Gender Identity

The Scottish Government want to make amendments to the Census by adding in questions on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation. This means a change in legislation is needed. Some questions are voluntary and some are required, with threat of penalty if unanswered. The Sexual Orientation question will be voluntary, just like the question on religion…

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Women & Equalities Committee Evidence Information Sheet

This is an information sheet with cut & paste extracts and links to written evidence from the Women and Equalities Committee: Transgender Equality Report (2015). Page 9 “We also heard from various quarters the view that the UK government should adopt the overarching principles on trans equality embodied in two international declarations:21 • the Yogyakarta…

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Hoodwinked by the Government

The Scottish Government asked the following question during its consultation on the Review of the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Question 1 The initial view of Scottish Government is that applicants for legal gender recognition should no longer need to produce medical evidence or evidence that they have lived in their acquired gender for a defined…

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Scottish Prison Service Policy written by trans lobby group

There was an article in The Times Scotland about ‘Women are being put in danger because Scottish prison chiefs allow male-bodied transgender inmates to live in female-only areas of jails, campaigners have warned’ which stated – “Scottish Trans Alliance did not respond to a request for comment last night. However the org has previously defended…

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Sexual Assaults in Prisons

There were 395 sexual assaults in prisons in 2017 and only 5% (21) occurred in women’s prisons. We know from recent headlines that 4 of those was by male trans prisoner Karen White who was housed in a women’s prison and sexually assaulted women. Therefore we know that ONE male trans prisoner was responsible for…

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Meeting with the Cabinet Secretary

I was very privileged to have had the opportunity to attend a meeting with Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, on 22nd August 2018. I am very grateful to the women responsible for arranging this meeting and also that they graciously extended the invitation to include myself. It was without…

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Scottish Councils replacing Sex with Gender

Is the Equality Act 2010 sufficient at present? In answering this question I would normally have said yes. It encompasses the range of groups who require additional protection e.g. race, disability, gender reassignment and sex etc. However, that is no longer as straightforward as it should be. Nowadays organisations and public authorities regularly amend the…

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Bullying and harassment of children in schools

In the Autumn of 2016 the Equalities and Human Rights Committee of the Scottish Parliament began work on the ‘Bullying and Harassment of children and young people in schools’. They collated a wide variety of evidence, both oral and written from a number of stakeholders, including groups working with children and educational professionals and local…

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Where did ‘Gender Neutral Toilets in Schools’ come from?

The Scottish Government opened a consultation between 17 July 2017 and 9 October 2017 with proposed amendments to these regulations, including the introduction of Unisex facilities. Currently, Regulations 15/16 of The School Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations 1967 state that the Sanitary Accommodations for pupils are to be split half for boys and…

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Template Letter to Councils about ‘Gender Neutral’ School Toilets

Dear Regarding (Name of school / Details of recent building works ) Regulations 15/16 of The School Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations 1967 states that the Sanitary Accommodations for pupils are to be split half for boys and half for girls. This applies both for WC and wash area. The Regulations make no…

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U-turn on controversial LGBT school guidance

Scottish Government have done a U-turn and no longer endorse this controversial transgender school guidance. This guidance has been distributed across all Local Authorities, many of which presumably adopted it on the understanding it had full Government backing. The statement came as a result of threatened legal action over the guidance. The govt deny ever…

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Controversial LGBT school guidance which discards single sex spaces and sports

Government funded LGBT Youth Scotland ‘Supporting Transgender Young People: Guidance for Schools in Scotlnd’ has been issued to Local Authorities all across the country. It has been endorsed by Children’s Commissioner, Children’s charities, Local Authorities etc despite it controversially discarding the need for single sex spaces and sports. No Equality Impact Assessments were carried out,…

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Scottish Bill confirms Self Identifying “Transwomen ARE Women”

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…

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‘New transgender law will not harm anyone’s rights’, except in practice across most sectors!

Equality Network / Scottish Transgender Alliance Manager James Morton wrote this piece about gender recognition reform in today’s (13/2/18) Edinburgh News. Although the article says that exemptions will still exist it is contradictory to the guidance given to schools, endorsed by Scottish Transgender Alliance regarding changing rooms & other sex segregated spaces. What exactly is…

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