Women who challenge radical gender ideology should not be smeared as ‘transphobic’, two senior SNP figures have said, as the party struggles with internal divisions on the issue.
The Cabinet is reportedly split on whether to introduce a gender self-declaration system, which would remove current safeguards.
Nicola Sturgeon supports the move, but tweeted last week that she wants to “understand and address the concerns being expressed”.
Writing on Thursday, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Equalities Shirley-Anne Somerville warned, “people raising genuine concerns about women’s rights shouldn’t suffer knee jerk accusations of transphobia”.
She sees no clash between the rights of women and transsexuals but accepted “that some do feel that conflict – and that the issues they are raising are not motivated by transphobia”.
A member of the SNP’s National Executive Committee later cautioned that women are facing online abuse for speaking out on transsexualism.
Chris McEleny said many women’s “experiences and trauma” are being side-lined in favour of transgender activists’ views.
Abuse of women
McEleny warned that some on social media are claiming to speak on behalf of society without actually listening to its views.
“Of course Trans rights matter, but so do the voices of many women out there who are scared to speak out because they will be the latest to be abused online and labelled a TERF – Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist.”
Today, in a letter to the Scotsman, a number of senior SNP members called on the Government not to “rush” dramatic changes on transsexualism.
The MSPs, MPs and councillors said the debate should take place “without accusations of intolerance”.
According to a source who spoke to the Herald on Sunday, the Scottish Cabinet is “split 50/50” on how to approach possible changes to the law.
“Clearly Nicola wants to see the self-ID brought in, but there’s others who are dead against it and it’s causing all the friction”, they said.
In July last year, Nicola Sturgeon said changing the law on transsexualism was the “next step” on the ‘progressive journey’ after redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships.