In responding positively to Shona Craven’s article in the National last week, I received a deluge of criticism, some valid, some perhaps less so. What seems clear is that a critical debate about human rights, gender and patriarchy is busting out – but often takes place in silos where language, jargon and understandings are shared in closed circles. There is deep ignorance, fear, and distrust. After realising that social media isn’t the right platform to have a useful debate and after several people contacted Bella asking for space to write, we thought it would be good to respond.

Since Nicola Sturgeon pledged to radically reform gender recognition law for trans people, including those of non-binary gender, back in 2016, this issue has been building:

“Sturgeon’s vow to reform the devolved legislation to “bring it in line with international best practice” will allow transgender individuals to change their birth certificate and other official documents to recognise their gender status without having to appear before a tribunal of psychiatrists.”

There seems to be a need to open this discussion into a wider arena in a way that is fair and positive. So I wanted to clarify and offer some ideas about a way forward.

A) I’m totally supportive of the trans community and all minority and persecuted groups facing discrimination and oppression. I’m sorry for in any way suggesting otherwise.
B) Many people are absolutely concerned with trans rights as a human rights issue. Many people are also concerned at the rolling back of women’s rights.
C) The article wasn’t ‘a primer’ and I shouldn’t have described it a such by myself. A primer would be a really good idea as a much wider public become aware of this issue for the very first time and are faced with a wall of highly contentious jargon.
D) I would be open to publishing peoples views on the way forward in open dialogue and in respectful good faith.These would include contributions from the transgender, lesbian, feminist and straight communities.
E) These articles would be moderated for abusive comment.
F) No one community or perspective has a monopoly on the truth. The ability to enter into open dialogue – to listen as well as speak – seems essential.
G) This debate touches on what Bella considers the wider issues of ‘self-determination’ and ‘autonomy’.

The idea of hosting this debate is motivated by the idea that supporters of trans and women’s rights are two groups that should have common cause as part of a wider movement against oppression.

Your thoughts / reflections / input are very welcome.

If this seems feasible / desirable and workable we will explore it, if it doesn’t we won’t.

Progressive and human rights are under assault by the new right – we need to come together and work out differences in common struggle. Let’s do that.