The Scottish Parliament has issued a draft bill on reforming gender recognition: https://www.parliament.scot/bills-and-laws/bills/gender-recognition-reform-scotland-bill
“The Bill changes the process to get a gender recognition certificate (GRC). A GRC is a certificate that legally recognises that a person’s gender is not the gender that they were assigned at birth, but is their “acquired gender”.”
I have fully read the draft bill, and if the final version looks much like it, many foreseeable problems will needlessly emerge that could have been avoided. It is still open to consultation until 16th May 2022, and you don’t have to live in Scotland to do so. If you believe the government is likely to pay any attention to public input and want to have your say, here’s the link:
Before listing some of the obvious omissions of important details in the bill, I will look at the dishonest nature of public debate surrounding transgender issues, mainly the frequent distortion of language and conflation of terms, both manifesting strongly in this proposed bill, that seek to purloin public support by directing attention only onto the small minority of cases that would in any case receive strong public support, and diverting attention far away from deeply problematic issues and the many people who would use the new law as a means to satisfy their sexual desires.
I believe most people are sympathetic towards people who suffer severe gender dysphoria, and would support them as far as medically and legally possible to make whatever changes are needed to live their lives in peace in their preferred gender. I certainly sympathise with them and fully support their being able to obtain a GRC with less pain and fuss. If this bill did just that, I would have no objection to it. Numerically, between 1 in 2000 and 1 in 1000 people have fallen in that category.
Recently however, far more people now claim to be transgender, for a wide range of reasons, and it a trans-supremacist subset of the newly transgender and their activist allies who have created the fierce arguments now going on over rights. Aside from the tiny transgender minority that have always existed, the reasons for being transgender now include increased exposure to ‘gender-bending’ environmental endocrine disrupters or xenoestrogen such as phthalates in everyday household plastics, paraphilic motivations such as autogynephilia (which the trans lobby is very keen to hide and which has been greatly amplified by addiction to male-to-female transgender porn), and social motivations such as peer pressure, fashion, even the desire to belong or to feel special or to claim victimhood.
Actually, in spite of the massive increase in numbers and motivations, most people are still trans-supportive. I don’t care what porn people watch as long as it’s legal. Most of us support anyone’s right to live their lives in whatever gender they choose and to present and express themselves how they want, as far as possible, up to the point where it starts to affect other people. At that point, the rights of both sides should be fairly and properly considered. I am not aware of any issues so far resulting from transmen other than medical support costs. I doubt very much if I would even notice a transman and can’t think of any situation where a transman could be causing a problem for others, though I can certainly see future problems for many transmen who will regret transitioning, and I guess that might also one day end up with taxes being used to pay compensation and medical detransitioning costs. By contrast, highly aggressive demands for rights by transwomen and their allies have been met at the expense of biological women, often backed up by emotional blackmail, with threats of suicide unless every demand is met in full. It is that trans-supremacist position has already caused damage in women’s sports, and sacrificed women’s safety, dignity and privacy in toilets, changing rooms, refuges and prisons to appease transwomen. This new law would accelerate and amplify that harm by making it far easier for people to legally change their sex, for any reason, via the highly vague ‘living in the other gender’ for a short period, just 3 months. All they need do after that is confirm they wish to proceed after 3 months ‘reflection’. If they don’t confirm their intention to proceed within 2 years of that reflection period ending, their application is deemed withdrawn.
Important legal battles have already been lost to ideologically-driven laws implemented without proper public attention and this bill may well join the list. Some involve conflation of sex and gender. Conflation is a common trick in debate today, akin to a magician using slight of hand to misdirect the gaze while pulling something from a sleeve. The terms sex and gender are interchangeable in everyday conversation, but gender ideologists are very keen to give them different meanings and stress the differences when it suits them – for example, you will almost certainly have seen the ‘gender-bread person, with sexuality associated with the heart, sex associated with the genitals and gender identity associated with the brain. That’s perhaps fine if that definition is used throughout a debate, but activists switch between meanings frequently during their arguments. In law, it is important that words have a common meaning that is used consistently and clearly throughout. In the case of sex and gender, this already isn’t the case.
We might reasonably concede that the word ‘sex’ denotes being biologically male or female, whereas ‘gender’ is about an inner feeling or outward expression of alignment to socially constructed perceptions of what it means to be ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’, and that while for most people sex and gender are aligned, for some people they differ. At least if we agreed on the meaning of the words sex and gender, we could have honest and open discussion about what laws we want. It is very important that laws use precise, unambiguous language. Words should always with consistent and permanent meanings. Activists and lawmakers are very well aware of that, so any use of conflation and ambiguity is an attempt to deceive.
(Actually, we each have different perceptions of what masculine and feminine mean, or even none. I have no idea what it feels like to be the opposite gender, but I also can’t explain what my current gender feels like. I can’t think of any traits that are uniquely masculine or feminine. I don’t associate being feminine with wearing a pink dress, makeup and high heels or being masculine as loving football and fighting! These are outdated stereotypes, but they do often seem to account for much of the foundations of gender identity for transgender people. On the other hand, woman and man can easily be differentiated biologically by referring to chromosomal or genital differences, even after a ‘sex change’. A neo-vagina and ‘clitoris’ created surgically by reforming skin from a penis and scrotum into a hole and moving the glans penis has little in common with a real vagina and clitoris other than superficial cosmetic appearance.)
It can be hard to keep up when gender activists swap frequently between conflating and distinguishing sex and gender, but the technique does seems to work. On the one hand, they discuss gender as an inner feeling of alignment to a perceived socio-psychological construct, for example when persuading people that someone changing their gender doesn’t affect anyone else, so is nobody else’s business and any objection is simply ‘hate’ and should have no bearing in rules and laws. If that is accepted, and it usually is, they quickly move to conflate sex and gender so that people unwittingly accept an equivalent concession in an area specifically about sex, hopefully without noticing that the argument no longer applies. So by accepting the reasonable-sounding argument changing gender is a purely private decision that affects nobody else, and therefore anyone should be free to swap to their preferred gender and live their lives accordingly, a quick swap of the words leads to changing sex being the same. The swap nicely concealed, the concession is made more explicit, that the person should have all the rights and privileges associated with that biological sex. Accepting one thing does not mean accepting something totally different, just because two of the words used overlap in meaning. Sadly, that is what now passes for debate.
It is a classic ‘bait and switch’ technique, offering one thing and then swapping it with another. It is quite deliberate. Activists frequently insist that sex and gender are very different things, but use them interchangeably to misdirect attention and sneak past inattentive lawmakers. If lawmakers already adhere to the same ideology, as is common, it is the general public they are trying to conceal the truth from.
So, gender is used as a soft entry point to establish agreement on a principle specifically regarding gender and then conflation is used to reword it to pretend that agreement extends to cover sex-related rights that were never actually discussed. A reasonable person accepting that people should be perfectly free to change gender if they want, to feel and look and dress how they want, is baited and switched into a position that anyone should therefore be able to access the sex-based rights of the other sex. Just call them gender-based rights for a minute and you’re half way there – most people won’t even notice the switch. Agreeing that someone should be free to dress up as a woman or behave in what they perceive is a feminine way is not at all the same as agreeing that they should be able to go into women-only toilets, changing rooms or prisons. Nevertheless, that is how effective that verbal slight of hand has been. Having been fully taken for a ride by the gender ideology lobby, or even in many cases going along with the deception willingly, government is now firmly on the back foot trying to win back some common sense via ‘clarifications’ of previous bill so that women can regain some of the safety, privacy and dignity that had been given away. Conflation is a powerful tool indeed.
The damage runs deep; the conflation of sex and gender in law is historical fact, the damage done, the advantages to the gender ideology lobby banked. Already, thanks to this conflation making its way into law, someone can change their legal sex simply by presenting a GRC that shows they have changed their gender. A man who obtains a GRC legally becomes a woman and can be listed as female on birth certificates, passports, and driving licenses. But it is sex that is recorded on a UK birth certificate, unless that too has changed recently. Gender makes no appearance at all. Why should a ‘gender recognition certificate’ have any relevance to a birth certificate that makes no mention of gender, still less be allowed as a means to change it? Ditto passports and driving licenses. If it is a sex recognition certificate, and thanks to the power of conflation it now is, why not call it that? Until now, there has been a high bar for obtaining a GRC and most people would still be happy if it were called a Sex Recognition Certificate, but not if it were to become far easier to obtain. ‘Gender recognition certificate’ sounds far less problematic, so perhaps it was called that as the thin end of what was always intended to be a long wedge. Who knows? Most people accept that the tiny minority of transgender people willing to go through painful surgery, hormone therapy, voice and behaviour therapy to make their physical bodies resemble their chosen sex as much as possible should be able to adopt that sex and its associated rights and privileges. Until now, interviews with doctors and psychologists at least ensured there was a serious need for and commitment to changing sex before granting a GRC. There has rarely been any objection to that tiny minority of men accessing women’s changing rooms or toilets. Mostly, they have been treated sympathetically. It is only via conflation-rich discussion that we’ve reached the point that a GRC may now be available to anyone, regardless of any serious need or commitment, merely on their own say so. Since it will cover legal sex, not just gender, that will most certainly be problematic.
Other legal rights associated with that sex legally follow that gender recognition certificate. Services reasonably intended to be for a single sex such as refuges, toilets, changing rooms, prisons, sports are now available to both sexes via that legal conflation with gender. Biological women have been the victims, with the rights of transwomen taking priority over the rights of biological women most of the time. Only now, some of the worst problems are being addressed and laws already passed make undoing the harm an impossibly difficult task. The ‘sex-not-gender’ slogan often appearing on social media makes perfect sense but UK law already conflates the two and this bill will only amplify that problem.
Government ‘clarifications’ that allow a few sex-based exceptions when they can be proven to be necessary and proportionate only go a small way to addressing concerns. To fully restore sex-based rights or laws, existing corruption conflating sex and gender would need to be repaired. That corruption already permeates statistics, policies, rules and regulations throughout the whole of the public sector’s influence. It could not easily be undone, even if there were a will to do so, and there isn’t. A bill that makes it even easier to change legal sex will amplify conflicts over sex-related rights.
It is obvious that deliberate conflation of sex and gender underpins this new bill from the title onwards. Since gender isn’t recorded (or assigned) at birth, why should the bill discuss ‘gender assigned at birth’ unless to misdirect? They know perfectly well that it is sex that is recorded, and that sex is observed, not assigned. Why not use plain and accurate language unless they mean to misdirect and push a law through under false pretences?
This bill will amplify and accelerate harm resulting from sex/gender conflation, by making it far easier to obtain a GRC. If passed, a person won’t need any surgery or hormone treatment, to dress differently or even have a discussion with a doctor. All they need do is fill out a form to get a full legal gender change. Thanks to the law already being corrupted, they would also get a full legal sex change thrown in for free.
Conflation doesn’t just work with words, it applies just as well to concepts. When we’re asked to accept the right to change gender and thereby legal sex, we’re offered the image of a lovely person who experiences terrible gender dysphoria, who only wants to be allowed to live their lives in peace in their preferred gender and is prepared to go through long and painful processes to do so. For them, a gender recognition certificate helps to relieve the everyday stresses of being reminded of their birth sex and having other people know. Who wouldn’t want to help them and make their transition less difficult and painful?
We’re never shown the 6ft bearded pervert, dressed as a man, behaving as a man, sexually attracted to women, who only wants a GRC to gain access to women-only spaces for his own sexual gratification. He also will easily be able to get a GRC proving ‘she’ is now legally a woman under this new law, with full protection by police if anyone dares ‘misgender’ ‘her’. It is far from clear why the new law can’t be designed to help the first while blocking the second. It did that fairly well when interviews with medics and psychologists were required to prove genuine gender dysphoria. Instead, in this highly dishonest debate, the few transwomen who suffer severe gender dysphoria and would love to actually change sex as far as medically possible, but who typically experience no sexual motivation to do so, are conflated not only with less severely affected but also with the estimated 70% to 80% of transwomen who experience autogynephilia (sexually aroused by imagining themselves as women and turned on by affirmation of themselves as women). That majority sexual motivation is concealed (and denied) as much as possible by trans-activists for obvious reason. Most people would have rather less sympathy with people who really want to go into women-only spaces for their own sexual gratification, for whom a GRC would essentially be a sex aid. Whereas it could easily have differentiated between people suffering dysphoria and those who are sexually motivated to pretend to be the other gender, this new bill will make it very easy for both to get a GRC.
Proper use of language is essential to honest and open discussion, so staying on language abuse for a while longer, to imply that gender is assigned at birth not only conflates sex and gender but also abuses the word ‘assigned’. A baby is ‘assigned’ a name. Gender isn’t officially recorded at birth at all. A baby’s sex is observed and recorded, being a straightforward biological property that in almost all cases is obvious. No advanced medical training is normally needed to decide whether a baby if male or female, however much our politicians avoid saying so. If a baby has a penis, it is recorded as being a boy. If it has a vulva, then it is recorded as a girl. In very rare cases (numbers quoted in medical articles vary from 1 in 5000 to 1 in 1000 ), a baby is born ‘intersex’ with ambiguous genitalia (that tiny proportion of babies born intersex is often used to justify for a sliding scale of both sex and gender, as if the population were 1/3rd male, 1/3rd female and 1/3rd intersex. However much gender may be on a sliding scale, sex most certainly isn’t – more than 99.9% of us were born clearly male or female). As for gender, inasmuch as it is different from sex, it makes no official appearance in records at all. There is simply no legal observation, recording or ‘assignment’ of gender. In fact, the first official record of my gender is in the 2021 census, the first census to ask about it. My actual, biological sex was recorded at birth and cannot be changed, however much I might use surgery, hormones, makeup and clothing, to feminise my outward appearance and gender expression (and thanks to corruption of the law, eventually change my legally registered sex). In fact, although sex appears in several legal documents, gender seems only to appear in official discussion when sex-based rights and privileges might be purloined via conflation. Otherwise, gender, as a psycho-social construct, seems to be of very little legal consequence. Considering that, what use should a gender recognition certificate be if gender is rarely officially recorded anyway? Without conflation, deliberate dishonesty, a GRC would be virtually meaningless and useless. It may be called a gender recognition certificate, but it is was always intended to be used as a means of certifying sex and is only really used to change sex on official records or gain access to sex-based places or services.
Finally, acquired? ‘Acquire’ means ‘buy or obtain, learn or develop’. This can only make sense if it is specifically gender and not sex that is being discussed here. An infant could gradually learn the social gender expectations of the gender it was ‘assigned at birth’ (if it were) and adopt or develop them, or find that it actually would prefer the other gender and seek to ‘acquire’ that instead. Biologically, sex certainly isn’t acquired, it depends on the chromosomes combined at the moment of conception. Legally, thanks to that corruption of the law, legal sex can now be acquired via a GRC. The use of the word acquired therefore only makes sense given that corruption that allows sex and gender to be conflated as desired.
This bill should take the opportunity to repair the harmful legal conflation of sex and gender. Instead, it continues and reinforces it.
Moving on, the bill provides a great deal of detail regarding provisions for people in marriage or civil partnerships, but little or no detail on a wide range of obvious topics. It is as if the only possible issues that might arise are associated with life partners. A great many questions arise that should obviously already be answered in a properly produced draft bill:
This bill caters for those transgender people who are transmen or transwomen, but excludes those who are gender fluid or non-binary. Why should only two of the many oft-listed gender variants be acknowledged and provided for?
The bill would reduce the age at which someone can apply to just 16. That age is below the age at which people are normally considered able to make adult decisions, and something as life-changing as changing sex should surely be done with the assistance of someone able to fully understand and explain all the associated issues and risks. Why is that need for extra support for 16-18 year olds not provided for or even mentioned in this bill?
How can it possibly be verified that someone has made a false declaration, other than the one of being over 16? Terms in the bill such as ‘living in their acquired gender’ are so undefined, vague and ambiguous as to be legally meaningless and unverifiable. ‘Intends to live permanently in their acquired gender’ cannot possibly be verified or challenged. Anyone could say it was an honest declaration and they have since changed their mind.
If something isn’t verifiable, why should it be included as a condition at all? The only verifiable condition is that the person is at least 16. Are all the other requirements only there to feign some sort of diligence?
How could anyone know if someone genuinely has/had gender dysphoria if medical involvement is no longer involved?
What exactly does ‘ordinarily resident in Scotland’ mean? What proportion of the time does someone need to be in Scotland to qualify? How long must they actually be physically present in Scotland and how would that be verified? Could someone in Scotland allow someone from England to claim residency in their home, by renting them a room for example, or would that be ‘aiding and abetting’ a false declaration? What sort of rental conditions would legally suffice. Would a long holiday suffice? Could someone wealthy just rent or buy a second home in Scotland to qualify, but rarely live there?
Could someone apply in Scotland for a GRC and use that to obtain a birth certificate in the other gender but still keep their original gender in England? i.e. could someone simultaneously be legally a woman in Scotland and a man in England?
Once someone obtains their GRC, could they just keep it as an option without using it? As an autogynephilia sex aid for example?
Could someone obtain a passport in one gender and then use their GRC to obtain a driving license or birth certificate in another?
What about HRT supply for women in Scotland if this bill results in lots of men wanting to become women moving there?
What about the extra costs on the Scottish NHS? What about future devolution? Could Scots end up paying for English people to have sex changes and GRCs?
Why is there no acknowledgement of any of the obvious problems that may arise and details of bills to follow that will reasonably address them? Such as obviously male-bodied people using female toilets?
What about opening use of disabled toilets to transwomen who might feel unsafe using male facilities, which based on current statistics, would only increase traffic in the disabled toilets by 4%?
Will taxpayers have to pay the inevitable huge compensation bill for de-transitioners claiming they were allowed/encouraged to transition without proper advice or medical supervision, especially given that medical practitioners may not legally be allowed to question or challenge a declared desire to transition? Will Stonewall, Mermaids, Tavistock and other gender activists and organisations be blamed for their roles in enabling this entirely foreseeable harm, or will they be allowed to argue that it was Ministers who are responsible and therefore taxpayers who should pay?
Some studies suggest that if someone uses puberty-blocking drugs then they will never experience normal adult sexual response or arousal, will never experience normal sexual attraction and will never have an orgasm. Will would-be transitioners be fully informed on this and other risks? If not, who will be liable for eventual compensation?
This draft bill is a masterpiece of conflation, leaves unanswered a great many questions, and by making it far easier to get a GRC for any motivation at all, will invite a great many people to apply and obtain one who would be unable to obtain one via the current system with its proper checks. Through the inevitable problems that will result, it undoubtedly amplify and accelerate existing conflicts between women and transwomen, and will inevitably result in lower acceptance and support for all transgender people.
It should not be passed.