Tag Archive | transgender

UK Government to Overhaul Gender Recognition

GRC applicationBe better scrapping it altogether.

The UK government is to carry out a consultation on changing legal gender for transgender easier than the mess it currently is.

Under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, those wishing to change legal gender have to undergo a lengthy bureaucratic and demeaning process to gain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), and it is only once they have a GRC that they can change their gender on official documents.

To gain a GRC, a transgender person over 18 must

  • be diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria
  • have lived fully for the last two years in their acquired gender
  • prove that they intend to live permanently in an acquired gender

The applicant sends their application, along with supporting documentation – and a £140 fee, to the Gender Recognition Panel, based in Leicester, who then forward it to the actual panels of HM Courts & Tribunals Service, where civil servants deliberate over them and decide whether or not to grant the GRC.

Paper applications are usually accepted, although in exceptional cases an oral hearing can take place, which means the application having to make a trip to London, possibly staying overnight, and being interrogated by a cisgender panel.

Many transgender people don’t even bother to apply for a GRC, not only because of the bureaucracy, but because they see it as an unwelcome governmental intrusion into their private lives.

The Equalities Minister Justine Greening said that the government, having listened to activists, intends to set up a consultation upon the process in autumn. Proposals include removing the need for medical diagnosis of gender recognition, with transgender people being able to self-diagnose, as is the case in the Republic of Ireland, and scrapping the two-year transitioning period.

I can only say it’s not before bloody time, dears. The entire process of applying for a GRC, before a transgender person can even get a birth certificate with their ‘acquired’ gender upon it, is overtly bureaucratic, an unwelcome intrusion into private lives and costly for many.

The two-year transition puts young transgender people at a distinct disadvantage, as not only do they have to first be medically diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria, they then have to live for two years under the gender they identify with, which means they will be at least 20 years old before they can even think of applying for a GRC. As I have pointed out before, this can lead to transgender young offenders being put in danger, when they are sent to prisons according to their assigned birth gender.

There is no mention however of doing away with the fee for a GRC. This puts transgender people in the lower income bracket completely at a disadvantage. Who can afford £140 for a GRC when they are struggling to make ends meet? How many poorer transgender people will even think of a GRC when their more pressing priority is getting a food bank referral? Where is this money going anyway, apart from into government coffers? As far as I can see the GRC is nothing short of a “Trans Tax”.

But another thought crosses my mind, and that is just what is the Scottish Government doing about gender recognition in Scotland. On 31st May 2016 the Scottish National Party (SNP) First Minister, the simply lovely Nicola Sturgeon, vowed that if she were re-elected that she would make changes for transgender and non-binary people in Scotland to bring gender recognition “iin line with international best practice”.

Nicola Sturgeon, who was duly re-elected, promised to allow transgender people to change their birth certificates and other official documents without need for medical diagnosis, legal recognition for 16-17 year old transgender people – allowing them to change their birth certificates without parental permission, and the legal recognition of non-binary individuals, intersex equality, and same-sex pension equity.

One year on, the SNP repeated these promises in their 2017 General Election manifesto. Well, the SNP have been re-elected to the Scottish Parliament for over a year now, the General Election took place on 8 June, and the SNP still managed to get more votes than Labour, the Tories, and the Lib-Dems put together – and I am seeing no apparent movement on these promises.

Come on, Nicola. You’re dragging your heels, dear (as nice heels as they may be).  It would be terribly embarrassing for Westminster to beat Holyrood to the post on this issue.  Especially considering they already did so on same-sex marriage.

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Whatever He Said, Bill Nye Does Not Speak For My Gender

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Nope. He never said that.

And he would be first to admit that.

There has been a debacle about Bill Nye allegedly contradicting himself in his show Bill Nye Saves the World, in which he says that gender is on a spectrum, with some claiming that in his 1996 show Bill Nye the Science Guy he said that gender is determined by chromosones. It did not take long for the transphobes to get to work, one of whom produced a meme from the show of Bill with the caption “Gender is determined by your chromosones”.

Despite the meme being roundly debunked by Snopes and many other sources on the internet, there are still some trying to claim it was genuine, and denying the gender spectrum.

Let’s get this clear right away. Bill Nye never said one thing about gender being determined by chromosones ~ ever, end of. On the episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy etitled “Genes”, Bill said;

“Our genes are stored in parts of our cells called chromosomes. They look like this. Chromosomes contain all of the genetic information, all of the instructions you need to make a person. Now humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes for a total of 46.”

This is what the bigots have latched onto, along with one sentence, not from Nye but rather from actress Amy Broder in a later episode entitled “Possibilities” in which she said;

“You’re either X and X. Girl. Or X and Y. Boy. The chance of becoming either a boy or a girl is always 1 in 2.”

Neither Bill Nye nor Amy Broder were talking about gender at all, they were talking about biological sex. That is what is determined by chromosones, not gender.

But even then the episode in which Broder was speaking was fatally flawed, as it maintains that there is only a biological sex binary. The very existence of babies born intersex tells us this is not so.

In the episode of Bill Nye Saves the World entitled “The Sexual Spectrum”, Bill corrects this by stating;

“Females usually have two Xs and males usually have an X and a Y. But it turns out, about 1 in every 400 pregnancies have a different number of sex chromosomes. Some people only have one sex chromosome, some people have 3, 4 or even 5. For me, I usually feel like I have a lot.”

But then we can be forgiveable to Bill, for the understanding of biological sex was a lot different in 1996 than it is today, and in “The Sexual Spectrum” Bill himself states;

“If you’re like me, and I know I am, you’re still learning about this field of science. We used to think that there were just two settings. Male and female. But it’s actually a lot sexier than that,”

And…

“Take sex. We used to think it was pretty straightforward. X and a Y chromosome for males. Two Xs for females. But we see more combinations than that in real life… …We have to listen to the science. And the science says that we’re all on a spectrum.”

So, Bill Nye himself admits that he is still learning and he is no expert in the field of human biology and gender. And this is important. Let us for a moment imagine that Bill Nye had said that chromosones determine gender.

I really admire Bill Nye for his intelligence, his biting wit and great sense of humour, but just what are his qualifications? Well, Bill is in fact a graduate in mechanical engineering, with all his other scientific knowledge having absolutely no academic qualifications. He also has a hugely successful comedy career behind him.

So in other words ~ and I’m not being cruel here, just truthful ~ Bill Nye is no more qualified to speak about my gender than I am to teach him about the hydraulic resonance suppression tubes he invented for Boeing 747 aircraft, or how to deliver comedy lines to an audience. As an objective scientist, I’m pretty sure Bill himself would agree with that estimation.

Same goes for Amy Broder. She is no more qualified to speak on my gender than I am to teach her about acting. Actually, on second thoughts, having seen her perhaps I could (saucer of milk for Xandra).

And of course, Bill Nye is absolutely correct that science has taken great steps in 21 years, and we now have a much greater understanding of sexuality and gender than we did a generation ago. Hell, as someone over 40 (I’m not saying by how much, dears), I had not even heard of the terms genderfluid and pansexual until a few years ago, generally because they were still relatively unheard of. But when I read up on both, having lived in confusion all my life, they hit me straight between the eyes and I realised “This is ME.” Like Bill, even I am still trying to make sense of it. I’m pretty sure most genderfluid and/or pansexual people feel the same way.

Yet there are those ignoramuses who will continue to deny that there is a gender spectrum and that there is only a gender binary. This makes it especially hard for the genderfluid, because we face this ignorant prejudice and hatred not only from the cishet majority, but also from some within the LGBTQI community, including some transgender people who outright deny the very possibility of someone being genderfluid.

But what such people do not realise is they are playing the bigots game for them. The gender binary argument using chromosones was not too long ago also used by homophobes denying homosexuality or bisexuality. It is still prevalant today among some religious bigots who use the “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” line.

People, and science, were wrong about sexuality then. Just as it now known that they were wrong about gender.

And this is the part that infuriates me; that many people, including some very intelligent and otherwise very liberal ones, simply cannot seem to get it into their heads that biological sex and gender are not one and the same thing. They are not and never were. The genitalia on a foetus forms weeks before the brain develops. And despite the fact that there are many guys (both straight and gay) who seem to think through their dicks, it is in the brain that gender is determined, not the genitalia. That is as true for gender as it is for sexuality.

The fact is that there is only one person who is the true expert on their gender; YOU. That is true for all of us, be we cis, transgender, genderfluid, whateva. Therefore not one person has the right to judge, discriminate, or decry the gender identity of another.

Even though I actually think it’s cishet people who are the weird ones, and who are missing out on a whole lot of fun.

Michael / Joanna / Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark; An American Hero

clar05a

Micheal Clark, US Navy / Joanna Clark, US Army

I have been reading of one of the most remarkable people transgender people ever born; Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, formerly Joanna Michelle Clark, formerly Michael Clark.

Michael Clark was born on 16 June 1938 in Pontiac, Michigan, USA. From 3-years-old he found he felt he was different from other boys, he preferred the company of girls, and even tried to emulate them. “I tried to talk and act like a girl instead of a boy,” said Michael in an interview, “I believed I was one of them – even though I knew I had a male anatomy. When I started going to elementary school, the other boys called me a sissy because I walked without ‘macho’ stride and carried my schoolbooks like a girl.”

By the time he reached junior high school, Michael tried to discuss his transgender feelings, but could not make them understand. Obviously there was a great deal of prejudice at the time, and Michael tried to be what he perceived as normal, joining the US Naval Cadets while in High School. When he left school in 1957, he went into the USN full-time as an avionics technician, eventually rising to Chief Petty Officer and an Instructor/Evaluator in anti-submarine warfare, scuba diving and sea survival in Hawaii, and serving on active duty in Vietnam.

Michael married his first wife in 1961, still trying to prove he was ‘normal’. However, although fathering a son, he could never satisfy his wife, and of course suffered the frustrations of not being sexually fulfilled himself, which led to him throwing himself further into his Naval career. The couple divorced in 1972, and he never saw his son again.

Still blinded by the prejudice of others, Michael married again, and this time found a partner who was not only sympathetic to his plight, was to be instrumental in changing his life.

“My new wife was a girl that I really intensely loved as a person. I still love her today. We liked the same things – hiking, concerts. But she needed more from me than I could give. And she started having a guilt trip over our situation, thinking she was at fault. Finally I said to myself: ‘My God, I’m reining this beautiful woman’s life by keeping my secret from her.’ So I broke down and told her I was a transsexual – a woman trapped in a man’s body. Instead of making me feel ashamed, she talked about what we had to do.”

Clark’s wife encouraged him to tell his parents, who far from rejecting him as he feared, all too fully understood (good parents know, dears). Thereafter he underwent psychological evaluation, which must have been groundbreaking for the 1970s, as it confirmed that Michael was a woman inside.

The downside is that someone blew the whistle about Mark’s evaluation to the US Navy. He was discharged upon the spot, and although it was an Honourable Discharge, it left Mark “angry and bitter”. And quite rightly so; Mark had often been commended, had excelled in everything he did, his work undoubtedly saved lives, and he can thereby be considered an American Naval hero.

Michael Clark underwent hormone therapy and in June 1975 underwent gender reassignment surgery, emerging under her new name of Joanna Michelle Clerk. She then divorced her wife, and moved in with her parents in San Juan, California, and got a job as a clerk-typist. In 1976 she enlisted in the US Army as a Staff training assistant, acting supervisor Fort MacArthur. She rose to Sargent First Class in the WACS, but after the authorities became aware of her background, Joanna was dismissed from the Army Reserve 18 months later. This time Joanna decided she was not going to take it lying down a second time and took the US Army to court. It was eventually settled out of court with a stipulation that details of the settlement not be made public. However, it is known that Joanna received an Honourable Discharge, with credit for time served in the Reserve.

This put Michael / Joanna Clark in the unique position of having served in the US Navy and the US Army, as both a man and a woman. The only person in history to have done so. But there was more to come…

Having realised all too painfully how transgender rights are trodden upon, Joanna Clark successfully lobbied in 1977 for replacement birth certificates and driving licenses to be made available for transgender people in California. She wrote Legal Aspects of Transsexualism, an important document which continues to be referenced by the law fraternity in the USA to this day. She founded the ACLU Transsexual Rights Committee, which she chaired for many years, working endlessly for the legal rights and status of TS persons. In the early 1980s she worked with transgender campaigner Jude Patton as a TS advisor.

By the late 1980s, Joanna’s life became more spiritual and in 1988 she took her vows as a Nun and founded the Order of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, a non-profit Episcopalian order. She transferred to the Order of St Michael of the American Catholic Church in 1997.

In 1990 Sister Mary Elizabeth founded AEGIS; AIDS Education Global Information System, the largest HIV/AIDS online information and website and BBS, which supplies reference material, information and an online meeting place for people worldwide.  Sister Mary Elizabeth has won several awards for her work fighting for LGBT+ rights, and HIV/AIDS awareness, and in 2005 was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

As Michael Clark, Joanna Michelle Clark, and as Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, this is a truly remarkable woman, who despite giving everything she has done her utmost, often pushing the limits of endurance, and often for others with little thought for herself, remains nonetheless humble. Someone I think we can all, whatever our gender, can look up to.

“Of all the things I’ve done in my life, military-wise, or working with children, I don’t think I’ve had anything in my life that I’ve had more passion for. I really can’t put it into words. When you see letters from people and you know that you’re helping them, that’s what it’s all about.”

sistermaryelizabeth

Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark

Want Your Pension? Annul Your Marriage.

And renounce your faith.

MB is 68 years old, married, and a Christian. Under the law, as a woman she should have received her state pension at the pensionable age for women, 60 years old. It was refused to her by the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and this has been upheld by the UK Court of Appeal. Why? Because MB was born with the biological sex of a man, married and fathered a family, and has not had her marriage annulled by a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

MB married in 1975, but did not start living as a woman until 1991, and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1995. As a Christian, she prefers to remain married to her wife, with whom she has a family, “under the eyes of God”. Under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, transgender people in the UK gained the right to have their gender legally recognised by a GRC. However, a GRC may not be issued to any transgender person who has not had their marriage annulled on the basis of gender change.

When MB applied for a state pension upon reaching the age of 60 in 2008, the DWP refused her application on the grounds that she is still legally a man, as defined by biological sex on her birth certificate. She took her case to the Court of Appeal, who in 2014 upheld the DWP decision. Undeterred, she has taken the case to the Supreme Court, the highest civil court in the UK. The Supreme Court has found itself “divided” on the issue, and has now decided to consult the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), to advise their decision. Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale, stated “Since there is no CJEU authority directly in point, it refers the question for their guidance”.

The entire case highlights problems with two things in the UK; the controversial Gender Recognition Certificate, and pensionable age.

GRC’s have long been a point of contention in the UK. When a GRC is issued, it is a form of legal recognition of gender. However, they are only issued under certain criteria. The “Standard Route” for this is;

you’re 18 or over

you’ve been diagnosed with gender dysphoria (discomfort with your birth gender) – this is also called gender identity disorder or transsexualism

you’ve lived in your acquired gender in the UK for at least 2 years

you intend to live in your acquired gender for the rest of your life

But it does not end there. Every single application for a GRC goes before a panel, usually made up of cisgender heterosexual men, who can indeed refuse to issue a GRC if they see fit.

The GRC puts young transgender people at a distinct disadvantage; old enough to have sex or even marry at 16 or over, they cannot in fact be legally recognised as the gender they identify with until 18 or older. This disparity has also led to transgender young offenders being placed in prisons according to gender identified by biological sex as given on their birth certificate, purely because they cannot get a GRC until over 18 and have lived under their acquired gender for 2 years.

Many transgender people are also opposed to GRCs on the grounds that they are unwelcome governmental intrusion into private lives. It should also be noted that birth certificates have no legal basis as means of identification, and placing transgender offenders is thereby technically illegal. In their campaign for the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary Election, the Scottish National Party promised to change the entire process in Scotland and make it much easier for transgender and genderfluid people to officially change their gender status. I have yet to see them make any movement upon this, and it may be time to drop my local Member of the Scottish Parliament an email.

Now the case of MB has proven another flaw with the GRC; that one shall not even be issued unless the transgender person has a marriage under their birth-assigned gender annulled. MB has no wish to annul her family. I have no doubt she loves her wife and family, and as a devout Christian, she sees her marriage as sanctified by God. Now, as an atheist, I obviously say phooey to that. I am not MB however, and as much as I may disagree with her, I have to be the first to stand up to her human right to freedom of religion.

The former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, continually maintained that we lived in a “Christian country” (not Scotland, dear ~ 39% “No Religion” at the last census, and rising). His successor, Theresa May, is equally a devout Christian. Whilst there is no written constitution in the UK, the entire Westminster government is linked to the Church of England, which is the established church of England, Wales and Cornwall (not Scotland or Northern Ireland), with the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, as head of that church, and 26 Church of England clerics, the “Lords Spiritual”, sitting in the House of Lords. The English judiciary is likewise closely tied to the established church.

Therefore, England is officially a Christian country, and MB, who is an English citizen and subject of her monarch, is having her rights infringed. She is being denied her rights as a woman, she is being denied her rights as transgender person, and she is being denied her rights as a Christian.

I am therefore very pleased that the Supreme Court is to ask advice on this case from the CJEU. The judges there will have to look at the matter in the context of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This is a legally-binding declaration of human rights, which is itself based heavily upon the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 9 of the ECHR states:

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

MB’s identity as a Christian and her marriage do not in any way infringe public safety, public order, health or morals, and do not present any threat to the rights and freedoms of others. However. insisting that MB annuls her marriage and applies for a GRC is an obvious infringement upon her freedom for thought, conscience and religion.

Article 8 states:

Right to respect for private and family life

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Article 12 states:

Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right”

Articles 8 and 12 are contentious, but are closely tied. It seems to me, however, that in insisting that MB annul her marriage and obtain a GRC, the DWP and the courts are a, infringing her private life, and b, infringing her right to marry.  Moreover, an officially Christian state is effectively telling a transgender woman to renounce her deeply-held religious faith.

The ECHR is of course not attached to the EU, and there is nothing in law to say that EU member states must abide by it’s articles (likewise, many states contravene the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights on a daily basis). The CJEU does however carry the weight to enforce judgements based upon the ECHR, and if they decide that MB has indeed had her rights infringed, then as the UK is an EU member (we’ve not left yet dears) the DWP and the Supreme Court shall have no choice but to adhere to their ruling, and give MB her pension, backdated to her 60th birthday.

But the entire case throws into sharp relief the entire question over pensionable age in the UK. Currently the official ages for qualifying for the state pension are 60 for women, and 65 for men. These ages date back to when men traditionally performed heavy labour, whereas women did “less taxing” jobs in offices. Please dears, as one with 20 years of admin jobs behind her, I can attest to the emotional stress of office work. It leaves you completely drained and can lead to nervous breakdowns and early deaths. The entire concept is flawed and deeply sexist. My former female partner has worked in environments, including physically ejecting violent bar customers, and in situations where I would have gone to pieces, or just screamed and simply fainted. I’m much more of a fragile girlie than she is.

The UK pension age also fails to recognise the hard jobs which some women did ~ and do ~ which are traditionally considered women’s work. How many men ruined their eyesight, gave themselves back problems and drove needles through their fingers, as my dear mother did through countless hours of leaning over a sewing machine? How many managed the heavy lifting and sweaty conditions of a laundry? How many have been on their hands and knees as cleaners? And just how many added all the tasks of being a homemaker and bringing up children into that? Yes, heavy labour is exhausting, hazardous to health, dangerous, and life shortening ~ every bit as much as the roles which a great many women have traditionally done, and some still do to this day, and at the end of their working day run a home and bring up a family, purely as a labour of love with no financial reward.

So, what happens if someone is genderfluid? An asshat caller to a radio show firstly stated that men might get gender reassignment surgery purely to get their pension early. Sure, pal, cisgender men are really going to have their meat and two veg cut off, purely to get the paltry state pension. Like that’s ever going to happen. He then did throw in the question that what if a genderfluid person tries to claim their pension as a woman at age 60? That’s actually a very good point, as much as the asshat way he put it; “What if someone says I’ve just turned 60 and I feel like a woman. I want my pension?”

In our more enlightened age, where gender identity is finally becoming much more widely recognised, there is an all-too-obvious answer to this, and that is to have a uniform pensionable age across the board, for all genders. That is indeed coming. From 2020 the pension age for both men and women shall be 66, which is to rise to 67 from 2026 to 2028. That is much fairer, as it shall truly recognise gender equality, for women, for men, for transgender people, and for the genderfluid (but sadly not this genderfluid person ~ I’m a pauper and will have to keep working until I drop).

But from the moment women gained equality in the workplace, it should ever have been so. And had it been thus, then MB would not be fighting for her pension, 8 years after she should have received it.

“Don’t vote for ‘Satanic’ SNP” Minister tells congregation

Wee Free clergyman brands gender and child policies “evil”.

$$-AAA-0001In the run-up to the Scottish Parliamentary elections, a Free Church of Scotland minister has branded the Scottish National Party (SNP) as “Satanic” over their stance on gender fluidity and one of their key policies on children in an outspoken and strongly-worded letter to his congregation, asking them to think before voting SNP.

Reverend Paul Gibson of Knox Church in Perth, part of the “Free Kirk” or “Wee Frees” as they are known, published his letter online in the wake of the recent announcement SNP party leader and First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament) that if re-elected, the SNP would restructure gender recognition laws in Scotland to bring it into line with “international best practice”. This would include individuals being allowed to change their gender on their birth certificates without medical consultation or authorisation from a committee, and for non-binary people to be able to state their gender fluidity on official documentation.

Insisting that “The Scriptures plainly teach that God is the author of all life (and therefore the sole designator of each person’s sex)”, Rev Gibson, also taking a side-swipe at same-sex marriage, insists that human beings are made male and female, that God “ordained the institution of marriage between a man and woman as the pinnacle of all human relationships”, and that “He has not only enabled the biological process of procreation but also given this married partnership a divinely ordained responsibility of raising their offspring according to His precepts.”

Continuing in what can only be called a rant, Rev Gibson states “We have already seen widespread celebration of the oxymoron that is same-sex marriage… …our authoritarian “progressives” want to take us further into the darkness by effectively disregarding the God-given authority and responsibility of parents, as well as allowing – if not even encouraging – all people to choose which gender they wish to identify with. You almost have to pinch yourself each time you even think about it – so extreme is the departure, not just from biblical morality, but basic wisdom and common sense. Can a government really be this foolish and that Satanic?! The answer, tragically, is yes.”

Conceding that “there is a good degree of truth to the statement, “they’re all as bad as each other” – at least from a Christian perspective”, Rev Gibson goes onto claim that “I for one have no burning desire to champion the cause of one party over the others within the church, nor to make out that one is worse than the others purely on the basis of some long held political bias”, but then continues, “However, when you consider the massive potential there is for the Named Person Scheme to be used as a means of interfering with the role of parents who seek to raise their children according to Christian values, coupled together with our government’s plans regarding gender, you would have to conclude that true believers need to think long and hard as to whether such a political party – one which seems intent on destroying any lasting imprint of God’s design – can honestly be supported in good conscience before our Creator.”

Really, Paul dear? You are trying to say your god is the designer and creator of all life, who decides the sex of every individual, that the same god ordained marriage between a man and woman for procreation and bringing up children, you call same-sex marriage an “oxymoron”, you brand the SNP as Satanic, say you have no bias, then state that “true believers” cannot support the SNP?

A lot to get through here, but deep breath…

The SNP are Satanic, and by inference anti-Christian?

For a great many years now the SNP have been funded by the deeply religious Stagecoach buses founder and owner, Brian Souter. That is the same Brian Souter who led a campaign to retain the deeply homophobic legislation, Section 28 (in England) / 22A (in Scotland), which made it illegal to ‘promote’ homosexuality in schools. That legislation effectively made it illegal for LGBT+ young people to mention their sexuality and thus further entrenched guilt and depression in many. Although I truly admire the SNP government in Scotland and am a firm supporter of Scottish independence, that they continue to receive money from Souter is one of the main reasons I refuse to join the party.

Every Education Committee in Scotland must, by law, have a religious, i.e. Christian, representative upon it. In ten years in power, and in five years of a majority government, the SNP have done nothing to change that, despite only 39% of Scots now counting themselves as religious, and church membership and attendance in sharp decline in Scotland.

The SNP administration have built more new Roman Catholic schools than any administration previous to them.

Every school in Scotland must offer Religious and Moral Education (RME), which parents can opt their children out of. Few parents are aware of this right, and when the SNP government were petitioned by the Scottish Secular Society to change this to an “opt-in” – whereby the schools would have to ask parents if they wanted their children to receive RME – they downright refused to do so.

John Mason MSP of the SNP in 2014 tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament stating that creationism should be taught in schools as science could not disprove it (yes, dears, he really asked science to prove a negative). The motion failed, but that it got as far as being considered underlines the fact that the SNP government is in fact riddled with Christians.

The SNP candidate for Central Scotland, Sophia Coyle, is a committed Christian and ardent anti-abortionist, and is also opposed to same-sex couples adopting children.

The Scottish government has an advisory committee on religion, which secular, humanist and atheist groups were not made aware of until 24 hours before it’s first sitting. The Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, Rev David A Robertson – effectively Rev Gibson’s boss – sits upon that committee.

God designates the sex of every individual?

Well firstly, biological sex, i.e. how we are born, and psychological gender are two different things. Gender Dysphoria is a recognised medical condition, which has been deeply researched by experts in the field, not “progressives”, and the conclusion of science is that a transgender woman is a woman, a transgender man is a man, and a non-binary person is a non-binary person – which is precisely what transgender and non-binary people have been telling cisgender people since time began.

Being transgender or non-binary is no more a choice than being cisgender is. If anyone disagrees with me, then I challenge them to present me with the peer-reviewed science disproving Gender Dysphoria, or stating it is a choice. And note I said “peer-reviewed science”. Do not even try presenting that dusty old book of Bronze Age goat herders campfire tales; that is not the proof, it is the claim.  And if anyone still disagrees and claims that gender is a choice, then tell me when you chose to be cisgender?

I think I speak for all transgender and non-binary people that while we are happy with who we are now, if we could have chosen to avoid the confusion with our gender identity, the mental turmoil, the mixed emotions, the depression, the ostracisation from family, friends, and society in general, the abuse, the threats and the actual violence visited upon us, we would have never opted for it. As it is we never got that choice, and all the psychological damage and abusive treatment we have suffered has been at the hands of others, not our own.

Of course the greatest place where Rev Gibson’s argument of his god designating everyone’s biological sex falls down is when intersex babies, with genitals from both sides of the gender binary are born. When an intersex baby is born, if God existed, would that then not be that God’s design? One wonders how Rev Gibson would cope were he father to such a child. Would he decide the child’s gender, and authorise surgery to assign his chosen gender? If he did so, would he not be interfering with God’s design? Or would he leave it to the child to decide when they were old enough which gender they were? If so, and surgery were carried out, would that child not then be interfering with God’s design? And would that child leaning towards one gender not then completely destroy Rev Gibson’s argument of gender being a “choice”? Or if the child grew to realise they were happly to remain intersex, which would be adhering to “God’s design”, would that not then completely destroy Rev Gibson’s arguments against gender fluidity?

If you’re reading this, Rev Gibson, I suggest you sit down and consider the above carefully – a large glass of perspective and soda may help. And while your at it, consider that the only person who is the ultimate expert on their gender is the individual concerned. And that applies to transgender, genderfluid / non-binary, and cisgender people.

Marriage was ordained by God as one man / one woman for procreation and bringing up families?

By ‘God’, Rev Gibson here of course means the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible. I can only take it by making such a statement that to add to his sins, the reverend gentleman is also a young earth creationist, who maintains that the Bible is to be taken literally as the unerring word of his God, and that the entire universe, the Earth, and all life – including mankind – were created in six days, 6000 years ago (someone forgot to tell the Egyptians, in the same region where the scriptures were written, and who have a recorded history going back 7000 years). Unfortunately for Rev Gibson, that has long been proven to be cobblers, and just as mankind long predates the Bible, so does marriage, which has been found in every culture on the face of the globe as a social contract between two people who love each other.

If Rev Gibson insists that marriage was instituted by HIS God, then I leave it to him to tell every married couple in Scotland who are Muslim, Hindu, some other non-Christian religion, or of no religion, that they are not married. And once Police Scotland are done with him for Religious Hate Speech, he may wish to look at what Scots Law has to say about marriage, and the fact that it makes little mention of religious faith.

Likewise for Rev Gibson is to claim that marriage is for one man / one woman is to be a hypocrite to his own faith. In the scriptures polygamous marriage is the most common form, with monogamous marriage being the exception rather than the rule. I often found it amusing that religious objectors claimed that same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy, which they called sinful, when it is so common in the Bible; just as the same people claimed it would lead to incest, when it is equally common in the Bible, and if creationists were to be believed, then we would all ultimately be the descendants of incestuous unions of the children of Adam and Eve.

If marriage is for procreation and bringing up families alone, one has to ask if Rev Gibson has ever refused to marry an elderly couple, or a couple unable to have children due to matters of physical disability? This is another piece of hypocrisy I intensely dislike from homophobic clergy, who bang on about procreation and family, yet will happily marry elderly couples and those who cannot have children. This entire argument falls down on the fact that people marry for love, and for companionship. My own parents often stated they married for companionship, my siblings and I came along later. So if a heterosexual couple marry for love and companionship, although they be elderly, unable to have children through physical disability, or even if one or both are asexual, then exactly the same applies to same-sex couples.

Rev Gibson calls same-sex marriage an “oxymoron”. He must agree then that it makes sense? Or is he just as ignorant as many others using that word are nowadays? An oxymoron is not, as many think, a mere contradiction in terms. Rather it is a contradiction which ultimately makes sense.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives this definition of ‘oxymoron’;

“A figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g. faith unfaithful kept him falsely true).”

We can see from that example that “falsely true” whilst apparently contradictory in this instance, ultimately makes sense. Likewise, Liverpool beat poet Roger McGough made wonderful use of an oxymoron in his poem The Fallen Birdman; “People gathered round the mess, in masochistic tenderness”.

Therefore, if Rev Gibson is asserting that same-sex marriage is an oxymoron, he is essentially stating that it ultimately makes sense.

If I am wrong on this one, I am sure the lovely Clare Flourish whom I follow here on WordPress, and who is much more learned in the English language than I am, shall soon put me right.

There is “massive potential… …for the Named Person Scheme to be used as a means of interfering with the role of parents who seek to raise their children according to Christian values”?

The Named Person scheme is part of the SNP policy of Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC). It is part of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, which when going through the Scottish Parliament, had full support of almost every party, with only the Scottish Conservative Party (who are about as “Scottish” as a Wiltshire cricket pitch) opposing it. It has the full support of several children’s charities and Police Scotland, it is based on models from other countries and yet more countries are looking at GIRFEC and the Named Person scheme with views to emulating it.

GIRFEC recognises that every child is different and an individual and aims for them to achieve their best within their abilities, rather than treating all children as the same, and expecting them all to achieve the same standards. The Named Person scheme is not about interfering at all. Every child will have a Named Person within the education and / or social care systems whom the child or their parents can turn to in time of need. The Named Person equally shall be trained to look out for a child who is unhappy, failing, and how to help them, and the warning signs of abuse, and how to properly address that.

The only objectors to GIRFEC and the Named Person scheme are a tiny group of protesters, who are attempting to challenge it in court, and which is almost certain to fail.

I have to say, if Rev Gibson thinks that the Named Person scheme has the potential for interference in bringing up children, particularly in the Christian faith, then he must have a very dim view of Scotland’s educationalists and one can only wonder just how much contact he has had with Scottish teachers. It just so happens that through a job I was once in, I had quite a bit of contact with teachers in Scotland, and a surprisingly large number of them are in fact active Christians. Indeed, I find the number of Christian teachers quite disturbing and I would be more worried about them attempting to push their faith upon children irrespective of children’s wishes. These fears were realised a few years ago, when two head teachers at a South Lanarkshire primary school were dismissed after children had been presented with creationist literature at an after-school club ran by American evangelists.

If the Named Person scheme were such a worry to Scottish parents, then the tiny take up of the No To NP protest certainly does not bear that out. Likewise, the Scottish Tories have been extremely quiet about it in their campaign for the Scottish Parliamentary elections. The SNP won a majority government in the Scottish Parliament in 2011 – in a proportional representation voting system devised to make majority government ‘impossible’ – and are on track to win another majority government when Scotland goes to the polls on Thursday, 5 May, 2016. If Named Persons were really such a huge issue, then the Tories would be pushing that strongly, just about every parent in Scotland would be against it, and the SNP would be lucky to win a handful of seats. The fact that the same parents are fully intending to vote SNP tells it’s own story; that having been given the information about GIRFEC / Named Persons, they understand it, and they like it.

But then, in claiming he is not biased but given his strong opposition to Named Persons, Rev Gibson gives away that he is indeed biased, and given which party was the only one to oppose GIRFEC, it is obvious how he votes. He says it himself; “I for one have no burning desire to champion the cause of one party over the others within the church, nor to make out that one is worse than the others purely on the basis of some long held political bias.” Why even add that bit about bias unless he has one?

So what does Holy Wullie, sorry, Reverend Gibson, do? He effectively tells his congregation how to vote, stating that those “true believers need to think long and hard as to whether such a political party – one which seems intent on destroying any lasting imprint of God’s design – can honestly be supported in good conscience before our Creator.”

And goes further by calling the SNP “Satanic” and “evil”.

Want to see what a truly evil government is, Rev Gibson? It is one which tells severely disabled and terminally ill people that they are fit for work and takes benefits away from them. It is a government which seeking to make savings, goes after the poorest of the poor, while giving the obscenely rich tax breaks and incentives to make even more money. It is a government of one of the richest countries in the world which tells people who have paid into the system all their working lives that there’s no money in the pot for their pensions, and they’ll have to work for more years to come. It is a government which claims to be helping refugee children, taking only those from Syria, and turning a blind eye to the lone refugee children just across the English Channel, many of whom are at danger from trafficking and child prostitution. All that, and many other things visited upon the UK by the Tory Westminster government, are the epitome of evil.

And I personally think Rev Gibson is crediting his Wee Free parishoners with far too much intelligence; if they were at all capable of thinking long and hard, they would not be in the Free Kirk.

I am an atheist, and I am also a secularist; I believe in removing religion from politics and public life as much as possible. I fully recognise that everyone is entitled to an opinion, even the unco righteous like Reverend Gibson. I am also fully aware that for many Christians, including dear Clare Flourish, their faith is a main driving force in speaking out against all sorts of wrongs, and I admire their passion in that. The Society of Friends (Quakers), the Iona Community and St John’s Episcopal Church in Edinburgh are certainly no slouches at speaking out against social injustice.  When any member of clergy tries to tell their congregation how to vote however, they cross the line from opinion to interference in politics, and that needs to be challenged wherever possible. I am fully aware that clergy pay taxes on their earnings, just like the rest of us, the churches as organisations however do not, and given that Reverend Gibson and his own Wee Free Moderator, Reverend David A Robertson, have both been very vocal recently about SNP policies on transgender and non-binary people, then I for one say it is time to remove tax exempt status from the Free Kirk.

As a footnote, given that Reverend Robertson has long stated his support for an independent Scotland, one wonders if he will pull Rev Gibson up for his attack upon the SNP? Given that Robertson recently published an “open letter” to Nicola Sturgeon, saying much the same as Gibson, I sincerely doubt it.


The full text of Reverend Gibson’s letter can be read here:

http://www.knoxchurchperth.com/letters/april-19th-2016

“Open letter” from Reverend David A Robertson, Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, to Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland:

https://theweeflea.com/2016/04/01/the-ultimate-april-fool-an-open-letter-to-nicola-sturgeon/

Little girl wears dress – Exclusive!

12916358_528128304036105_7884043778344331367_oDo we really need stories like this?

Oh dear. Oh dearie, dear. A 4-year-old transgender girl has started school, in – GASP! SHOCK! HORROR! – a pinafore school dress. It’s the end of the civilization as we know it. The perverts are coming for our children. Michty me, we’ll a’ be murderit in oor beds by the communists!  Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children?

The story broke in the media on 21 April 2016, and why it is even a story is beyond me. But nonetheless, three UK comics masquerading as newspapers covered the story, with the usual hyperbole and ignorant and loaded headlines one has come to expect from the British gutter press, and the usual uninformed and abusive comments from their scumbag troglodyte readership (yes dears, I am no slouch at hyperbole myself).

The story surrounds little Logan Symonds, who at age 4 is starting school with her twin brother, Alfie. The only difference is that Alfie will be wearing a boy’s uniform, and Logan will wear a girl’s pinafore dress – and having seen their pics, they are BOTH as cute as buttons. According to mother Emma, Logan has identified as a girl from the age of 18 months, has always played with “girls” toys, and wanted to dress as a girl. Emma says that Logan wanted to wear dresses from an early age, would throw tantrums and even become aggressive when she tried to dress her in boys clothes and even said she hoped her penis would fall off. Eventually she relented, tried letting Logan wear girls clothes, and noticed a great improvement in behaviour from the child. For the twins fourth birthday party Alfie was dressed in a superman outfit, while Logan was dressed in a ‘Frozen’ princess dress  (EEP!  She’s ADORABLE!). Before starting school, Logan told her mother she wanted to be in a dress “like the other girls”.

And so as the media ran with the story, they inevitably ran their headlines, with male pronouns and implied outrage. First off the rank was that darling rag of the British right-wing, the Daily Mail. “Mother allows one of her twin boys, four, to wear a DRESS to school because he has believed he is a girl since he was just 18 months old – while the other son is happy to remain a boy” ranted the headline in the Mail, which was also quick to point out that Emma Symonds is a single mum. Repeating the Mail story almost word for word was the Daily Mirror, supposedly a left-wing newspaper, whose headline thundered “Supportive mum lets son, aged 4, wear skirt to school: ‘It’s a big step for us all”, and the following day the story ran in the Mirror’s Scottish edition, the Daily Record, with the headline “Four-year-old twin boy starts school in a dress after his mum agrees to let him live as a girl”. In all three newspapers, the stories continually refer to Logan as a boy, and with the common use of “he”, “him”, etc.

But if the ignorance of the red tops were not enough, comments from the readers are truly depressing. I was actually quite surprised at the amount of support from Mail readers, much more than the supposedly ‘socialist’ Mirror and Record, but there were still the fair amount of idiots in the Mail.

“This is a psychiatric problem that should have been addressed long ago. That poor little boy has been let down by his mother.”

One wonders just what qualifications this person has in psychiatry, particularly when mum Emma is addressing a psychological issue with Logan in allowing her to be who she is?

“Why all of a sudden these gender issues are coming up? Honestly I’d love to hear from folks who wanted to be the opposite gender when they were kids (for example, this boys age) and how it was handled back then. And how they’re doing now. It’s only these past few years ppl are believing they’re the opposite gender from what they were born and the rest of us are being held hostage to those beliefs and demands.”

It’s coming more to the fore nowadays as society is becoming more educated and accepting of gender issues, and we fought bloody long and hard to achieve that, without any help from the cis community. How was it handled back “then” is easily answered; you were TOLD what gender you were, you had to suppress that and hide it from society, from your friends, even from your family, for fear of rejection and punishment. The results were imprisonment for some, being cast out from family and friends, depression, suicide, and even murder for others – just as it is for a great number of transgender and genderfluid people to this day. You want to hear from folks who questioned their gender from an early age years ago? Try listening to / reading what we have to say.

“18 months old when he declared he wanted to be a girl. Totally ridiculous.”

“Crikey, he could talk well for an 18 month old child then!”

Because of course, had Logan declared at 18 months “I am a boy” that would have been equally “ridiculous” and his vocabulary would have been questioned, wouldn’t it? 18-months-old can express themselves quite clearly; it is adults who only need to listen to them.

From the Mirror:

“I wanted to be a super man when I was a child ? my parents didn’t send me off to space or something.”

More’s the pity they didn’t, dear. And learn some English grammar – PLEASE!

“It sounds genuine but she could be one of those liberal nuts forcing the child.”

Yeah, because that happens all the time, doesn’t it?  No, wait.  It’s the opposite – transgender kids being told they are cisgender – which happens all the time.

“What is going to happen if this carries on, then his hormones kick in and he realises he’s a boy. It’s going to cause nothing but confusion and heartache for all involved. Let him play with what he wants and dress up however, but don’t take him out and let it become who he “thinks” he is.“

The only heartache is when the hormones do kick in, when Logan’s biology is at odds with her psychological gender, and she has to deal with them. The only confusion and heartache worth any consideration are Logan’s – it’s none of anyone else’s damned business. Nooo, don’t take her out. Keep her indoors, allowing her to dress up only indoors, thereby compounding her confusion and heartache over who Logan knows she is.

“my son played with his sisters cars and loved dressing up in dresses at preschool then next minute he would be dressed as a fireman and his sister vice versa.”

Dressing up to play, which children will soon tire off, and wanting to dress according to the gender one identifies with are two completely different things.  Likewise, if it were a ‘phase’ then it’s one that has apparently now lasted 2½ years.

“My daughter has always hated girlie and that is fine, i would not buy her pink clothes and expect her to wear them, at 11 she has a short hairstyle and is happier to wear girls trousers etc but she is a girl and wants to be a girl.”

Or have YOU decided she wants to be a girl? And how shocked are you going to be if she comes out as transgender or lesbian?

I leave the last to the Daily Record, and Scotland, I am so sadly disappointed that you have given the most vitriolic responses:

“Obviously, once Mummy found out she was having twins, she decided she wanted a boy and a girl ! I wonder how she worked out which one she wanted to be the girl, given she gave them both boy’s names ! It’s a worry !”

Because of course mum Emma wanted a daughter so much (except that Logan and Alfie already have an elder sister) that as a single mother, she decided to give both of her twins boys names, when she could have easily have given one of them a girl’s or even ambiguous name, such as Lindsay? I why should it be a worry when it’s not any of your business?

“This four year old probably wants to be superman too. Maybe she should put his underpants on outside his trousers and see how that goes!!”

Perhaps you should put your underpants over your trousers – seeing as a keyboard warrior you have nothing to fill them with? See point above about the difference between dressing up and identifying.

“Fatherless families are destroying the fabric of social order. Men are no longer wanted in a feminist driven society and this story is just another example of it. Guilt oriented women showering their children with ‘support’ because their life choices caused a fatherless family.”

Yes, single mums and the feminists are all to blame, because children need male role models and men are “no longer wanted” (depends on the man, dear – check out my vast collection of Johnny Depp movies; he’s certainly wanted). What a misogynist twat. The person stating this went under the name “Dambustersgm”, which is a reference to the bomber crews of World War II who bombed dams. So, had Logan’s father been in the armed forces and killed in action, would Emma being a single mum still be so offensive to him?

“you are nothing more than a pervert and a peadophile enabler…no doubt you are common purpose or working for an agency… your time is coming.. this is nothing more than abuse and targetting young children….you are nothing but scum” (in response to one supportive commentator)

The overwhelming vast majority of paedophiles (notice I can actually spell it), even those who prey upon little boys, are in fact cisgender heterosexual men, with cishet women second, although the incidence is far lower. Transgender and homosexual men and women are right at the bottom of incidences of child sexual abuse, and a child is much safer in the company of LGBT+ people than in that of the cishet mainstream

“This is irresponsible parenting or at worst child abuse I think it’s the mother that needs professional help.”

Nope. Child abuse is when you force a child to be something they are not, which if mum Emma had forced Logan to identify as male, then she would have been abusing her child. It’s people like this who need professional help, and educating on gender issues.

If I have any issue with the story of Logan, then it’s why it should even be in the media in the first place. Emma Symonds appears to be a very well-informed and supportive mother (although she does still use male pronouns, but I’m guessing that’s a hard habit to break), so if I have any criticism, it would be to ask if she is actually courting this publicity, and if so, just why? And should she read this, I’d like her to understand that’s not in any way an attack, but merely a genuine question.

The stigmatisation of transgender and genderfluid individuals, particularly childwill only end when it is fully understood and accepted as normal. When that happens, the media will not run stories like this, because there will be no copy value in them. But as long as they are ran, complete with ignorant and transphobic headlines and hyperbole, then society is always going to respond with outright bigotry. In the end, the gender of anyone, any child, is nobody’s business but their own, and the only expert on anyone’s gender is the individual themselves, no matter how young or how old they may be.

Scottish Government proposes Non-Binary legal recognition

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Nicola Sturgeon MSP – First Minister

And more good news for Trans Scots.

The current Scottish National Party (SNP) administration in the devolved Scottish Government has pledged to overhaul LGBT+ legislation, which will effectively give legal recognition to those in Scotland of non-binary gender.

Speaking before a hustings meeting co-hosted by LGBT+ rights groups including Stonewall Scotland and the Equality Network, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, a former reciptient of the Scottish LGBTI Politician of the Year Award, laid out a five point plan intended to reform Scotland’s gender recognition laws “bring it into line with international best practice”, should the SNP be returned to power in the Scottish Parliamentary elections on 5 May 2016.

Proposals include to allow non-binary and transgender people to revise their birth certificates to reflect their gender, without the current need to seek approval from a tribunal of lawyers and doctors. Revised birth certificates will then be valid for passport applications, as well as for use in other legal documentation. If implemented, the changes would make Scotland the third country in the European Union, after Malta and Denmark, to recognise non-binary gender. The status is also recognised worldwide in Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Argentina.

The changes come after a recent survey carried out by the Scots LGBT+ campaign group Equality Network, found that 300 participants described their gender as “non-binary”, although it is believed the true figure could be as much as ten times higher.

The commitment was welcomed by Nathan Gale of Non-Binary Scotland, who said: “By making a commitment to reform gender recognition law the Scottish Government is ensuring that all trans people, no-matter what their gender identity, will be able to be themselves, in all aspects of their lives.

“Trans people who don’t identify as men or women have just as much right to have the gender they identify as recognised and respected as everyone else.

“I hope that the next Scottish Government will truly aspire to international best practice and provide for a third gender, alongside male and female, to be recognised in Scottish law.”

The five points of Ms Sturgeon’s commitment are as follows;

“Expect all new, guidance and promoted teachers to undertake training on equality so they are confident in tackling prejudice-based bullying.

“Promote children’s health and well-being right throughout early years, primary and secondary education, so that all children and young people learn tolerance, respect, human rights, equality, good citizenship, to address and prevent prejudice and about healthy relationships through refreshed, age-appropriate strategies and resources.

“Work towards every professional working with children being trained on equality, addressing prejudice-based bullying, attachment, child development and child protection.

“Review and reform gender recognition law for all Trans people to ensure it is line with international best practice.

“Aim for all police officers to receive appropriate training on the investigation of hate crime.”

In more detail, the proposals include the right of transgender young people of 16-17 year old to change the gender on their birth certificates, with parental support.

The proposals also have the potential to reduce the incidence of transgender people in Scotland convicted of crimes to be sent to prisons according to their birth gender. Regular readers will know this is a particular bugbear of mine, so I fully applaud the SNP administration in the Scottish Government for this move.

Speaking on the proposals, Ms Sturgeon stated “I’m proud that Scotland has made significant progress on LGBTI equality in recent years; however, the very fact that we are still having debates like this at election time just underlines that there is still much that we need to do.

“In particular I want to see a renewed focus on areas such as education – both for young people themselves, and those responsible for their emotional and educational wellbeing.

“Tolerance, respect, inclusion – these are attitudes and principles we want to encourage and foster in modern, fairer Scotland.

“Enabling young people to make informed choices about their gender and sexual identity is about supporting them to be themselves so that they might fulfil their potential.

“I am hopeful that in the next Scottish Parliament, we can build as much consensus on LGBTI issues as we did in this session – and take another leap forward for equality.”

Not everybody is happy however, and the loudest of the dissenting voices comes from the Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, Revered David A Robertson, who stated in an article in the Daily Mail, “Not content with the destruction of the traditional Christian ideas of sexuality and marriage, it appears the SNP are now seeking to destroy the traditional idea of gender. We do not believe that this will lead to the Brave New World envisaged by the proponents of the multi gender doctrine. It is destructive of humanity and will cause chaos in our society. The SNP seem to be working on the unproven and somewhat bizarre notion that children get to choose their own gender and sexuality.”

Rev Robertson is no stranger to such bigotry, and worse still, it is not as if he is ignorant of the facts. He is an educated man, a theology graduate, and has been well-informed, many times, of the facts about sexuality, marriage, and gender. He is correct when he speaks of Christian “ideas” of those subjects, but does not accept that they are merely that – ideas, not facts. He does not recognise that Christianity does not have a monopoly upon marriage, or that marriage originally was a social contract with no religious overtones, but he is more than well aware that nowhere in the Bible is marriage defined as one man / one woman, but rather that polygamous marriage (which is one thing Rev Robertson claimed SSM would lead to) is the most common form of marriage in the Bible, with monogamy being the exception, rather than the rule.

So likewise are his foolish notions of sexuality and gender merely Christian “ideas”, and when it comes to that, “ideas” shared by him and his minority “Free Kirk” (or Wee Frees, as they are known), which fly completely in the face of scientific research. I offer my heartiest congratulations to Rev Robertson, who stated in his blog, The Wee Flea, that he has recently become a grandfather. However, in the same article, The Ultimate April Fool – An Open Letter to Nicola Sturgeon, whilst claiming not to be transphobic, and to be an SNP supporter, he repeats the bigotry he voiced above and, going further, states of his new granddaughter, “My granddaughter was not ‘assigned’ gender at birth, as though she were being given a name. She IS a girl. She is not one of several genders that she can get to pick and choose as she pleases later on, according to some societal construct or government edict.” You could not make it up. Rev Robertson at first states that his granddaughter was not assigned gender, then later affirms “She IS a girl”. This of course neither Rev Robertson, his wife, nor the parents yet know. Yes, she has been assigned female, according to biological sex – not gender – at birth. But for all anyone knows, she may yet grow to identify as transgender or genderfluid. Only time will tell. And if that is the case, will Rev Robertson and the parents then drum into the wee one that she IS a girl? Yet the Scottish Government, and the LGBT+ community are apparently the ones ‘harming’ children. Bigots like he and his Wee Free followers do much more harm than those who, while cisgender themselves, at least are trying to understand trans and genderfluid issues.

Rev Robertson is certainly right on one thing; we do NOT get to choose our gender. Neither I nor any other genderfluid person chose to be so, just as no transgender person ever chose their gender. We were born with it. But then, no doubt the Rev Robertson chooses not to believe that, just as he no doubt does not believe that anyone is ever born intersex, with both sets of genitals. Or if he does, no doubt he believes that the parents should decree which side of the gender binary that child should be, according to their whims on whether they wanted a boy or a girl, and an operation reflecting that carried out, rather than leaving it to the child to decide when they are old enough which – if either – side of the gender binary they most identify with.

Having experimented since I was a child, I never came to terms with being genderfluid until I was “over 40” (don’t ask dears – I’m not telling), following years of depression and self-hate. I can therefore assure the hateful minds of the likes of Rev David A Robertson that despite his fine words, he and those who think like him are indeed transphobes, and do a great deal of harm – much, much more than they will ever know.  And should he be reading this, I will go further with a personal message – you are a bully, Rev Robertson, and in the nature of the bully, a gutless coward at heart.

Another dissenting voice came from the Time for Inclusive Education campaign, who are seeking compulsory inclusive sex and relationship education. A spokesperson stated;

“Only very small steps have been taken here regarding education – Nicola’s strategy here does not go far enough in protecting LGBT+ young people and this does not reflect the motion that was passed at conference. In order to ensure that our schools are inclusive of LGBT+, teaching staff must receive LGBT+ specific training – what Nicola proposes here is blanket equalities training, which will not do enough. Ourselves, SNP Youth and SNP Students expect and hope that the SNP’s manifesto will go much further than this and truly reflect the expectations of the membership who unanimously backed our campaign. If this is the strategy that will be taken into the next parliament, then we still have a very long way to go. We would urge the SNP to work with us on this, because the next strategy has to be the right one.”

I tend to agree the measures do not go far enough with regard to LGBT+ young people. In the run-up to the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014, legislation was brought in to reduce voting age to 16. Likewise at 16 young people in Scotland can work, pay taxes, have sex (straight or gay), get married, live alone, order an alcoholic drink with a meal, and join the armed forces. To then say that they require parental approval to change their birth certificate to reflect their gender is to strip them of their rights as young adults. Likewise I agree with TIE that teaching staff need to have specific LGBT+ training to address LGBT+ issues, otherwise they won’t know what the hell they are talking about.

Yet these are but devils in the detail. These proposals from the SNP are to be welcomed and congratulated. The SNP formed the last devolved Scottish Government in 2011 with a majority, in a form of proportional representation voting which was supposed to make majority government an impossibility. They are currently riding very high in the polls, and look set to be returned with another majority government in May, and we can therefore see Nicola Sturgeon’s words as a solid commitment. I am not an SNP member, but I am certainly sympathetic to them, and after the election I shall expect these measures to be implemented as soon as possible.

As we did with Same-Sex Marriage, Scotland is indeed entering a “Brave New World”, but unlike the gloom and doom envisaged by the transphobes, under the wonderful and simply lovely Nicola Sturgeon it is going to be a much better Scotland, inclusive of all who live here no matter their background, and this Scot could not be all the more proud of her country for that.