Artillery Row

Scottish women’s rights virtue-signalled away

An organisation founded to support victims of male sexual violence are apparently prioritising the feelings of men

It isn’t just the English who don’t like to talk about “sex”, it seems the Scots are also somewhat reluctant to be honest about what’s under their sporrans. We live in relatively liberal times, and whether someone identifies their gender as transman, transwoman or non-binary haggis is a matter of personal choice. But whether we like it or not, society is still divided by sex and as such it is sometimes necessary to know whether someone is male or female.

The word “gender” is where the woke and the puritans converge; used by those who are either too prudish to say “sex” or keen to obfuscate its meaning, “gender” has displaced the category of “sex” on application forms and increasingly in law.

Finally, last Thursday during discussion of the Forensic Medical Services Bill in Holyrood, Johann Lamont MSP, a former leader of the Scottish Labour Party, spelled out the practical implications of what might seem to be semantic pedantry when she tabled an amendment that read “for the word gender substitute sex”.

Responding to those who questioned the need to differentiate between “sex” and “gender”, Lamont asked, “If they are interchangeable, why resist an amendment that uses a term that is defined in law? If it does not matter, why fear clarity?” The bill, which gained cross-party support, gives rape victims the right to have a forensic medical examination before deciding whether to report an assault to the police. The amendment secured the right of women in Scotland to be examined by a woman, rather than by a man who identifies as a woman.

During the debate Lamont told her fellow MSPs: “If members do not agree that women survivors of violence and rape should be able to ask for a woman examiner, they should say so, and we can have that debate…” The amendment passed with the support of 113 MSPs, (nine others opposed and one abstained).

Lamont’s amendment was in part prompted by a campaign by grassroots women’s rights activists in the group For Women Scotland. In a statement the group said:

At a time when the Scottish Government was considering definitions of sex and gender, we felt it was crucial that this Bill was not, retrospectively, held to mean anything other than allowing women the right to request a female examiner… The subsequent campaign for this amendment has been inspired by the outstanding women who gave evidence and those who wrote yesterday to MSPs… This campaign has never been about politics or linguistic quibbles – it has, first and last, been about them.

Following the passing of the amendment a “call to action” was released by SNP activists; the statement complained that the new wording was a “a covert signal to anti-trans campaigners who frequently use the term sex-based rights to refer to denying trans women [males] the same legal protections as cis women [females]”. Opposition to the amendment was not just from SNP activists or those outside Holyrood, Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon MSP complained, “there are some people who want to exclude trans women from working with women and girls who have disclosed rape or sexual assault”. Lamont shot back “Forgive me if I focus on survivors. We should put at the centre the experience of survivors and ask what is right for traumatised women.” With predictable alacrity, perpetually outraged transgender activists on social media called Lamont a bigot.

The reluctance of some politicians to stand up for women’s rights against the might of the transgender lobby is perhaps to be expected. But the stance of Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS) has shocked even seasoned women’s rights campaigners.

In a column for The Scotsman RCS chief executive Sandy Brindley rejected the suggestion that sex and gender ought not to be used interchangeably in law arguing:

Johann Lamont MSP has this week lodged an amendment to the bill, to change the reference from ‘gender’ to ‘sex’. It is not clear what she is trying to achieve with this – some commentators see this as a development which would exclude trans women doctors from carrying out forensic examinations.

On social media RCS doubled down tweeting, “Don’t let gender row obscure the need for changes to the way rape survivors are treated in Scotland.”

Today ‘gender’ is promoted as an existential state of being, which like a soul apparently exists outside of one’s sexed body

It is astounding that an organisation founded and headed by women to support victims of male sexual violence have apparently prioritised the feelings of men who identify as women and want to carry out forensic examinations. The position of RCS may have been informed by Mridul Wadhwa, a male prominent transgender rights activist who is a manager at the Forth Valley Rape Crisis Centre. When applying for the job, which would ordinarily be a post reserved for a woman, Wadhwa claimed to have not been asked for a gender recognition certificate (GRC) and that his employers didn’t know he was trans. Not only does Wadhwa have a key role within a women’s organisation, he also has political ambitions; in October he was shortlisted through an all-woman shortlist to stand as SNP candidate for Stirling in 2021, although ultimately he wasn’t selected. Wadhwa is also currently “Women’s Officer” for an SNP branch in Edinburgh.

To understand how the demands of a minority of men have usurped the gains made by women in law and beyond it is worth exploring the concept of gender. The term “Gender” was taken from linguistics by sexologists in the 1950s to describe the masculine and feminine behaviour of boys and girls. It was then used within the social sciences and even by some feminists to refer to the socialised differences between girls and boys (e.g., learned speech patterns, clothing and toys).

Today “gender” is promoted as an existential state of being, which like a soul apparently exists outside of one’s sexed body. Defining how this manifests without referring to learned sex stereotypes remains something of a challenge for those who subscribe to transgender ideology. In essence “gender” can be reduced to “I think therefore I am a man; I feel therefore I am a woman.”

Women are no longer pushing for equality, we are fighting for basic legal recognition as a sex

Arguably, there is nothing wrong with believing that a preference for dresses, crying and baking cakes can make a man a woman. This belief only becomes a social issue when others are compelled, either through legal or social sanction, to join in the pretence. To expect those who are most vulnerable, such as victims of rape, to prioritise the feelings of a male who identifies as a woman above their own needs is morally indefensible. Furthermore, it seems fair to ask what motivation a male might have for wanting to examine or counsel a victim of rape against their will.

Last Thursday, in six short words Johann Lamont MSP did her job and ensured that traumatised women in Scotland would not become props to support the gender identity of men. But that removing this most basic right, to be examined by someone of the same sex, was even raised as a possibility should set alarm bells ringing. The speed at which the ideology of gender has captured institutions and governments gives an indication as to the sex of those who benefit. As 2020 draws to a close, women are no longer pushing for equality, we are fighting for basic legal recognition as a sex and at serious risk of having our rights virtue-signalled away.

Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try three issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £5

Subscribe
Critic magazine cover