I am not some turkey voting for Christmas.
I have come to the decision that I shall be voting Scottish Green 1 and 2 in the Scottish Parliamentary Elections in May. The reason being the unchecked transphobia within the Scottish National Party (SNP).
I remain fully committed to an independent Scotland, but events of the past few years, which have come to a head more recently, have convinced me that I cannot vote for a party in which transphobia goes unchallenged, and the party leader, however well meaning, seems unwilling or unable to do anything about it.
Firstly, let me outlay the history.
In the run up to the last Scottish Parliamentary Election in 2016, the SNP made a manifesto promise to reform gender recognition, to bring it into line with “best international practice”. This promise included gender self-ID, that being extended to 16-17 year old transgender people, and legislation for nonbinary people in Scotland. They promised to implement these measures in the lifetime of the parliament, meaning between 2016-2021.
The SNP won the 2016 election, and a Bill was submitted to the Scottish Parliament on the above basis. It had cross-party support in the parliament. The Bill then had to go through the mandatory public consultation period, as all new devolved legislation in Scotland must do so. The support was overwhelming, with 65% of respondents, a clear majority, in favour of implementing the Bill into law.
Everything in the garden looked rosy.
In stepped Rev Stuart Campbell, and 15 SNP politicians.
Rev Stuart Campbell is the founder of the hugely influential Wings Over Scotland blog. Wings campaigned hard for independence during the 2014 referendum campaign. However, Mr Campbell is also an out and out transphobe, whose continual posting of hate messages and memes on Twitter saw Wings Over Scotland banned from the platform. Another blog supported by and advertised on Wings, The Sealand Gazette, started posting vile transphoic messages, and it too got banned. While it cannot be proven, it is highly suspected that Stuart Campbell was using the Sealand account to continue posting his hate speech.
A couple of side notes here.
1. During the 2014 referendum campaign, a tiny minority of independence supporters posted hate messages and threats on social media. Despite the independence campaign, Yes Scotland, and the SNP stamping down on those responsible, the unionists and the mainstream media jumped on the actions of a few loonies to demonise all Scots Nats as being vile, anti-English, “nasty cybernats”. Wings was one of the loudest voices to speak out against this, and point out that this hate was not tolerated in the official independence campaign. But while active on Twitter, Campbell routinely posted hateful messages from a tiny minority of transgender people, their allies, or those purporting to be transgender, in an effort to demonise all transgender people as hateful, violent, and dangerous. He was playing exactly the same sensationalist game as the unionists did against Scots Nats.
2. Stuart Campbell does support independence, that I shall not deny. Like all of us, he does not believe in a union with England and that Scotland should control her own matters, not Westminster. Interesting then that Rev Campbell does not even live in Scotland, and somehow thinks that he can dictate how Scotland should be ran, from his home in Bath, England.
In April 2019, among growing transphobia in the SNP and the wider independence movement, fifteen SNP politicians signed an open letter to Nicola Sturgeon, party leader and First Minister of Scotland, stating, ““conflating sex with gender identification affects a wide range of policy and service delivery, including data collection, education, health and social care, justice and sport. New information about this topic is emerging all the time and deserves to be properly scrutinised… …Changing the definition of male and female is a matter of profound significance. It is not something we should rush.”
Basically, the letter wanted any gender legislation to take “women’s sex-based rights” into consideration, which meant that it is they who wanted gender defined by biological sex. Anyone who knows any of the science behind gender will immediately realise that the two are not one and the same, and trying to claim so makes about as much sense scientifically as flat earth belief. So far from the Bill changing the definition of gender, it was the signatories to this letter who did so.
In October 2019, the SNP Women’s Pledge was launched, which likewise asked for gender being based on biological sex. All involved claim they are not transphobes, and have called any such accusations to cease. At the same time, they seek to invoke the Equality Act 2010, to uphold “sex-based protections”, and state that, “Women have the right to refuse consent to males in single-sex spaces or males delivering intimate services to females such as washing, dressing or counselling.”
So, there you have it. They want gender recognised by biological sex, which defies all known science, and effectively denies the very existence of transgender and nonbinary people, and they do not recognise transgender women as anything else than men invading female spaces – but they’re not in any way transphobic, you understand?
So, what did the Scottish Government do in the light of a majority of 65% supporting the GRA Reform Bill, and every single LGBT charity in Scotland supporting it? Ignore those opposed to it as inconsequential, you may think. Like hell they did. Under increasing pressure from transphobic members, they pulled the Bill, rewrote it, and presented it again in a very watered down form. OUT went the proposals extending self-ID to 16-17 year old transgender people. OUT went the measures for nonbinary Scots (the SNP promised separate legislation for we NB people, and well over a year later, we’re still waiting to see any). IN came a clause covering the “sex-based rights” of women.
The new Bill was supported by the Parliament, and went to the compulsory public consultation period. It too was supported by the majority of respondents.
So, the SNP 15 and the Women’s Pledge got their way, and they should have been happy with that, you may think. Except they are not. I’m not sure just what they want, but it seems to me that they do not want self-ID in any way, shape, or form. In fact, they appear to want transgender and nonbinary Scots not to exist at all, or at the least to keep quiet about their very identity.
Amidst all this, things hotted up on Twitter, and there were those opposed to self-ID who accused transgender / nonbinary people and their allies of posting hate messages. Some did, this I do not deny. And I don’t deny either that the majority of the cis people involved posted some of the most vile hate imaginable, including the same tired old crap of all transgender women being just fetishist, predatory men and paedophiles, using common English dictionary definitions of ‘female’ and ‘woman’, objecting to being called cisgender – which is a valid term used in medicine – and the like. There were also not a few tweets threatening violence. But they’re not transphobic, you understand?
Into 2020, and the Coronavirus pandemic hit Scotland. What did the SNP Scottish Government do? They put the GRA Reform Bill ‘on hold’ with indecent haste. It was the first legislation to be postponed in this manner.
The SNP Party Conference took place online in November 2020, and at it members voted a number of transphobes into places of power. Not least of these was Fiona Robertson MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament), who openly supports the ‘freedom of speech’ of transphobic author J.K. Rowling (who hates the SNP and who in 2014 donated £1 million to the official unionist campaign, Better Together), and who was one of the original 15 signatories to the open letter to Nicola Sturgeon. When several transgender and nonbinary people asked perfectly reasonable questions of Ms Robertson on Twitter, her response was to block us all. The new job of Fiona Robertson is? She is the Scottish Government Equalities Convenor. You seriously could not make this shit up, dears.
In January 2021, several transgender / nonbinary young people and their allies left the SNP, prompting Nicola Sturgeon to make an open plea to them to return “home” to the party, and to have a ‘debate’. Sorry, Nicola, but when that home is abusive, then you are left with no choice but to leave to protect yourself. And you do not get a ‘debate’ over anyone’s gender; the right of anyone to exist is simply never up for discussion. You want to debate people? Debate the hatemongers within your own party, or better still, expel them.
The SNP promised self-ID within the lifetime of this parliament, and they have completely failed in delivering that, due to the rantings of a minority of anti-science bigots, who malign transgender and nonbinary Scots as perverts and predators, and then laughingly claim they are not transphobes. And the party hierarchy, right up to and including the First Minister, have done absolutely nothing to combat that.
It is not a matter that I will not vote for any such party; as a nonbinary Scot, I simply cannot do so. And trust me, it breaks my heart that I can no longer vote SNP, as I do not believe for one moment that they have my best interests at heart. It would be like turkeys voting for Christmas. If their vision of independence is one where I and other transgender and nonbinary Scots can be maligned just for being who we are, that is certainly not a vision which I share.
And that is why on 6 May 2021, I shall be voting pro-independence, pro-trans, Scottish Greens, 1 and 2.