Trans rights in Scotland: where is the progress?

In the latest edition of our LGBT History Month blogs, STUC LGBT+ Committee member Stewart Wakelam, alongside Nathan Graham from Unite the Union, writes about trans rights in Scotland.

February is LGBT+ history month; when we take the time to reflect on the pioneers within our community and celebrate their sacrifices and successes. Our community has made impressive strides in equality legislation as well as changing hearts and minds. But the fight is far from over.

Our comrades across the pond in the US have battled through 4 years of an oppressive right wing regime, determined to roll back hard won rights and protections. Bathroom legislation, banning trans people from military service, school children targeted; even at a federal level, protections have been erased.

We cannot afford to be complacent, thinking that such attacks on human rights would never happen here, not in Scotland, surely we’re too progressive for such thing? And yet, every day brings fresh reports of new, well organised and very well funded organisations working at every level to do just that; to remove the human rights of our trans comrades.

Groups such as LGB Alliance, or Fair Cop have attracted support from those we have elected to lead us; those we entrusted with positions of power within our government. Online forums such as Mumsnet have become a breeding ground for hate filled, right wing rhetoric, dressed up as feminism and concern for women’s rights. The conversation around the GRA reform has become so toxic, that many people are fearful of asking questions or investigating further. This ensures the public is kept in the dark about what is really happening, allowing dangerous precedents to be quietly set.

The impact on the trans community is tangible. Already 63% of trans youth contemplate suicide. With the recent ruling denying trans youth access to vital medical services, that number is only going to get higher. How cruel is it to force a child to live as an identity that is not their own? To force them through irreversible changes in puberty that they don’t want, and all to satisfy a right wing agenda?

We need a government that is prepared to act in the best interests of its citizen. Leaders who will step up to protect the most vulnerable in our society. We need legislation that is fit for purpose, that allow trans people to reach a level of peace in their life without unnecessary and lengthy bureaucracy. That trusts and understands that trans people are capable of making their own life decisions, that removes the inhumane and humiliating acts of gatekeeping. That doesn’t insist that a panel of strangers knows a person’s gender identity best.

The STUC LGBT+ Committee calls upon the Scottish government to bring about the reform of the Gender Recognition Act immediately. Stop the unnecessary and harmful delays. Promises were made and have been broken. This is not good enough. Our trans comrades deserve better, they deserve to have their humanity recognised and their human rights enshrined in law.

Because Trans Lives Matter.

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