The “screeching change of direction” –  the forgotten Westminster history on gender recognition reform

A long read – by stewartb

There is a lot of heat being generated in the corporate media, in social media and in parliaments, especially from the Tories in Westminster and Holyrood, about the Scottish Parliament’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill. It seems that too few people remember or are willing to acknowledge the very recent history of the Tories’ policy position on this subject in Westminster.

Fortunately, an excellent briefing published on 22 February 2022 by the House of Commons Library (HoCL) provides a detailed and, given the source, authoritative account. The briefing deals largely with the UK Government’s consultation in 2018 on reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) which asked whether the process for transgender people to gain legal recognition in their acquired gender should be reformed.

See Fairbairn et al (2022) Gender Recognition Act reform: Consultation and outcome. House of Commons Library Research Briefing. (https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-9079/CBP-9079.pdf )

2016: In its report on Transgender Equality, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee said: ‘While we recognise the importance of the Gender Recognition Act as pioneering legislation when it was passed, it is clear that the Act is now dated. THE MEDICALISED APPROACH REGARDING MENTAL-HEALTH DIAGNOSIS PATHOLOGISES TRANS IDENTITIES; AS SUCH, IT RUNS CONTRARY TO THE DIGNITY AND PERSONAL AUTONOMY OF APPLICANTS. (my emphasis)

‘Within the current Parliament, THE GOVERNMENT MUST BRING FORWARD PROPOSALS TO UPDATE THE GENDER RECOGNITION ACT, IN LINE WITH THE PRINCIPLES OF GENDER SELF-DECLARATION THAT HAVE BEEN DEVELOPED IN OTHER JURISDICTIONS. In place of the present medicalised, quasi-judicial application process, AN ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESS MUST BE DEVELOPED, centred on the wishes of the individual applicant, rather than on intensive analysis by doctors and lawyers.’

Chaired by the Tory MP Maria Miller, this Committee had 10 other members including five Tories and, amongst its Labour members, Jess Philips. Notably, since then Ms Phillips has been Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding in Keir Starmer’s Opposition frontbench since 2020.

The Tory Government then committed to review the GRA to determine whether changes could be made “to improve it in order TO STREAMLINE AND DE-MEDICALISE the gender recognition process”.

2018: In July 2018, the UK Government launched a consultation on possible reforms to the GRA: Reform of the Gender Recognition Act – Government Consultation. This consultation, which closed on 22 October 2018, concerned the legal gender recognition system in England and Wales only, though implications for the whole of the United Kingdom were also considered. Importantly, the focus of the consultation was on the process for gaining legal recognition. The government’s document stated (again with my emphasis):

‘This consultation does not consider the question of whether trans people exist, whether they have the right to legally change their gender, or whether it is right for a person of any age to identify with another gender, or with no gender. Trans and non-binary people are members of our society and should be treated with respect. Trans people already have the right to legally change their gender, and there is no suggestion of this right being removed. This consultation simply asks how best government might make the existing process under the Gender Recognition Act a better service for those trans and non-binary people who wish to use it.’

The Tory government’s argument in 2018 for reform

The consultation document set out the Tory government’s case for reform. I replicate this at length because: (i) is shows how closely aligned the reform agendas of the Westminster and Holyrood governments once were; and (ii) how far the policy stance of the Tories has shifted in the interim period.

Here is the Tory case: ‘Put simply, the case for change is as follows. Transgender individuals want legal recognition of their acquired gender and the dignity and respect that can come with it. They will often have already changed their name, and other documents, such as any Government-issued forms of identification that they hold to reflect their acquired gender. This therefore creates A DIFFICULT BUREAUCRATIC SITUATION WHERE THEIR LEGAL STATUS AND BIRTH CERTIFICATE DO NOT MATCH THE REST OF THEIR DOCUMENTATION AND THEIR IDENTITY.

‘To resolve this, however, they have to go through the current gender recognition process that is set out in the GRA. Many trans people feel that this process is overly intrusive, humiliating and administratively burdensome. Further they argue that by requiring A DIAGNOSTIC PSYCHIATRIC REPORT, THE PROCESS PERPETUATES THE OUTDATED AND FALSE ASSUMPTION THAT BEING TRANS IS A MENTAL ILLNESS. As part of the process, the trans person has to collect a range of personal documentation, including information about their medical history, finances and identity WHICH THEY SEND TO PEOPLE WHO THEY DO NOT MEET WHO THEN MAKE A DECISION ABOUT THEIR GENDER IDENTITY. The fee of £140 and associated costs are seen as expensive and there is no right of appeal against the decision unless on a point of law.

Crucially, here the HoCL briefing states: ‘The Government said IT WAS PERSUADED BY THESE ARGUMENTS and wanted to make it easier for transgender people to achieve legal recognition’.

The Tory government’s allaying of concerns

The same 2018 consultation paper recognised concerns being raised about the potential implications of reform on exceptions in the Equality Act 2010 associated with gender reassignment discrimination.  Again at length, this was the considered view of the Tory government in 2018:

‘We want to be ABSOLUTELY CLEAR – we are not proposing to amend the existing equality exceptions relating to single- and separate-sex services in the Equality Act. IT WILL STILL BE POSSIBLE TO EXCLUDE INDIVIDUALS WITH THE PROTECTED CHARACTERISTIC OF GENDER REASSIGNMENT FROM SINGLE OR SEPARATE SEX SERVICES WHERE DOING SO IS A PROPORTIONATE MEANS OF MEETING A LEGITIMATE AIM. The fact a trans person has LEGAL GENDER RECOGNITION WILL FORM PART OF A SERVICE PROVIDER’S DECISION AS TO WHETHER TO PROVIDE A DIFFERENT, OR EVEN NO SERVICE TO A TRANS PERSON, BUT HAVING A GRC IS NOT A COMPLETE ANSWER.

‘TRANS PEOPLE WITH A GRC CAN STILL BE EXCLUDED FROM SINGLE SEX SERVICES, OR PROVIDED WITH A DIFFERENT SERVICE IF IT IS PROPORTIONATE TO DO SO ON THE FACTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL CASE. Although reliance on this exception should be rare, it is most likely to be needed in particularly difficult and understandably sensitive areas, such as the provision of women’s domestic violence refuges.

‘Whether it is proportionate to exclude a trans person would have to be judged by the service provider on a case by case basis, considering the trans person’s needs and the impact on other service users. Refuges will continue to make sensible risk assessments of potential service users. SUCH ASSESSMENTS ARE REQUIRED OF ALL USERS, whether or not they are trans: FOR EXAMPLE THE REFUGE MIGHT WANT TO PREVENT AN ABUSIVE LESBIAN FROM ENTERING WHEN HER ABUSED FEMALE PARTNER IS INSIDE, OR IT MAY EXCLUDE A WOMAN WITH A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE AND INSTABILITY.’

2020: There were over 100,000 responses to the UK government’s consultation. The Government’s response was eventually published on 22 September 2020. Also published was an Analysis Report of Consultation Responses by researchers at Nottingham Trent University. The latter report included these findings:

  • ‘Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64.1%) said that THERE SHOULD NOT BE A REQUIREMENT FOR A DIAGNOSIS OF GENDER DYSPHORIA IN THE FUTURE, with just over a third (35.9%) saying that this requirement should be retained.’
  • ‘Around 4 in 5 (80.3%) respondents were IN FAVOUR OF REMOVING THE REQUIREMENT FOR A MEDICAL REPORT, which details all treatment received.’
  • ‘A majority of respondents (78.6%) were IN FAVOUR OF REMOVING THE REQUIREMENT FOR INDIVIDUALS TO PROVIDE EVIDENCE OF HAVING LIVED IN THEIR ACQUIRED GENDER for a period of time.’
  • ‘The majority of respondents (83.5%) were in favour of retaining the statutory declaration requirement of the gender recognition system. Of those who were in favour of retaining the declaration, around half (52.8%) did not agree with the current declaration wording that the applicant intends to “live permanently in the acquired gender until death”.’

There is a lot more detail and on a wider range of germane issues in the Analysis report.

Reactions to the UK government’s response to the consultation

On 24 September 2020, there was a Commons debate two days after the minister, Liz Truss issued her written statement on the response to the above consultation on behalf of Johnson’s government. The Tory MP, Crispin Blunt asked an urgent parliamentary question concerning the ministerial statement and in his speech stated:

‘Does she (Truss) appreciate that trans people CANNOT DISCERN ANY STRONG OR COHERENT REASON FOR THIS SCREECHING CHANGE OF DIRECTION? They are aware of the fear being used against them and fears, void of evidence, to sustain them. Does she understand the anger at the prospect of their receiving their fundamental rights being snatched away?’

He added: ‘She has presented the House with an inherently unstable settlement that will have to be addressed—hopefully sooner rather than later.’

In the same debate, the Labour MP Marsha De Cordova, then-Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, stated: “After three years of toxic debate, it is deeply disappointing that the Government have let trans people down and DROPPED THEIR PLANS TO REFORM THE GENDER RECOGNITION ACT. The debate around reform of the Act has been intensely fought and has caused great harm to many. Trans people face daily discrimination and the average wait for a first appointment with a gender clinic is 18 months, so it is vital that steps are taken to tackle discrimination and provide the services and support that people need.”

She added that the delay in responding to the consultation was “completely unacceptable”. She said LABOUR WOULD “CONTINUE TO SUPPORT UPDATING THE GRA TO INCLUDE SELF-DECLARATION FOR TRANS PEOPLE”

On 25 September 2020, the House of Lords considered the Minister’s statement. The Labour peer Lord Collins of Highbury (the Opposition Whip in the Lords, and Shadow Spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and International Development), asked: “WHAT EVIDENCE DOES THE MINISTER HAVE THAT MEDICALISATION REMAINS NECESSARY FROM THE JURISDICTIONS THAT DO NOT MEDICALISE THE PROCESS?”. He referred, as had Crispin Blunt in the Commons debate, to a July 2020 report of the APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights) on Global Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights and asked why it was rejected, “BEARING IN MIND THAT IT WAS ALSO BACKED BY THE LGBT GROUPS OF THE MAIN POLITICAL PARTIES, INCLUDING HER OWN?”. Lord Collins said the decision “has caused huge hurt to the trans community” and that “LABOUR BELIEVES THAT IT IS SIMPLY WRONG”.

2020-21: The Women and Equalities Committee inquiry

On 28 October 2020, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee launched an inquiry, Reform of the Gender Recognition Act. The Committee published its report, Reform of the Gender Recognition Act on 21 December 2021. The Committee Chair, the Tory MP Caroline Nokes criticised the Tory Government’s response to Gender Recognition Reform: “The Government took nearly two years to respond to the consultation on an Act that was written at the turn of the millennium. THE GRA IS CRYING OUT FOR MODERNISATION, AND THE GOVERNMENT HAS SPECTACULARLY MISSED ITS OPPORTUNITY. This is an area of reform which has attracted strong opinions and debate, but there are areas – such as the removal a time period for living in an acquired gender – which many can agree on. The Government’s failure to implement even these changes – made clear in its consultation – suggest ITS LACK OF WILLINGNESS TO ENGAGE.”

Nokes added: “Being trans is not an illness. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THE GOVERNMENT DE-MEDICALISE THE PROCESS OF GENDER RECOGNITION BY REMOVING THE OUTDATED REQUIREMENT FOR A GENDER DYSPHORIA DIAGNOSIS. The current response to the 2018 consultation has amounted to little more than administrative changes. We are now calling on the Government to enact real, meaningful change.”

2023: Summarising this history is probably worthwhile in itself: from reading social media contributions since the veto was applied to the Scottish BILL, there seems to be a widespread lack of knowledge and understanding of this background.

However, candidly, my motivation for spending time and energy on this comes from reading the speech of the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, Ian Murray in the Commons debate (17 January) on the Section 35 veto. In this Mr Murray said:

‘Now Scotland is saddled with an Administration in Edinburgh who are hellbent on breaking devolution, and a Conservative Administration here in London who are intent on ignoring it. Indeed, the Secretary of State seems to spend more time with Government lawyers trying to stop things happening than making them work, while THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT SPEND HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF POUNDS ON LAWYERS CHALLENGING LAWS THAT THEY KNOW ARE UNCHALLENGEABLE IN ORDER TO MANUFACTURE POLITICAL GRIEVANCE.’

So here is Mr Murray perching on some kind of high ground of political righteousness on behalf of the people of Scotland? Aye right!

As the history set out above demonstrates, Mr Murray’s implied equivalence of two political parties or two governments over this matter and his implication that the Scottish Government’s objective has been to ‘manufacture political grievance’ is both unworthy and risible. As the history shows, the Scottish Government’s reform objectives and the Westminster government’s reform objectives regarding gender recognition were once, recently, very close – and close to Labour’s in Westminster too. Then Tory Party power politics changed with the elevation of Boris Johnson to the position of Prime Minister. And a screeching U-turn followed!

On 26 December 2022 The Herald had this headline: Theresa May intervenes over Rishi Sunak’s threat to block gender recognition law.

The article reports: ‘Speaking to the BBC’s PM programme, Ms May said she was disappointed that similar changes to gender recognition laws were not being considered in England. During her time in office, THE EX-TORY LEADER HAD PROMISED TO STREAMLINE AND DE-MEDICALISE THE PROCESS FOR OBTAINING A GRC, but with no majority in the Commons, a reliance on the socially conservative DUP to prop up her government, and Brexit battles dominating her final months in power, the plans were never enthusiastically pursued.

‘Speaking on Monday, Ms May told the BBC: “The very fact that I put the proposal forward shows that that was SOMETHING THAT I THOUGHT WAS IMPORTANT TO DO, particularly to take some of the medical aspects out of this,” she said.’

Regrettably, it is yet again a weakness of corporate media and BBC journalism that important information on Tory party policy shifts over gender recognition reform is air-brushed out of analysis and comment, denying many people access to important context and perspective.

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6 thoughts on “The “screeching change of direction” –  the forgotten Westminster history on gender recognition reform

  1. Great piece of research ! Well done !
    I would say that this should be replicated by politicians pontificating on this topic or journalists criticising in the media – but this is the UK in 2023 , where assembling the FACTS before making a judgement is profoundly anathema to so many !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As per usual, the arguments being used against Scottish Govt policy is based on lies, misinformation, wilful ignorance and a hope people don’t look to closely at them. Unfortunately, too many allegedly pro-Indy folk are only to willing to back the UK Govt on this. All the Unionist false-flaggerly on certain blogs is paying dividends for them now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The tacticians of every stripe will be busy trying to develop/exploit the contradictions being exposed by this particular stushie. The mainstream media will be more focussed on the stoor and reek rather than facts .

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Please feel free to correct me if my opinion requires further thought on any point.
    My understanding is that the rights and privileges of trans persons do not impinge on my rights and privileges, and mine should not impinge on theirs, they should be the same rights and privileges.
    One of the arguments for system change is that physical condition does not relate to gender (took me a long time to understand that, guess I’m just an auld thicko), and the requirement for medical examination, assessment and pronunciation is excessive and abusive.
    It would appear these requirements are more about humiliation and the forcing an individual to conform to the authorities way of things. Similar to the threat of, or actual strip searches by police and customs.
    So physical condition is not a requirement of gender and the scrutiny of such is an attempt at abusive control by the state.

    So gender is mental (of the mind), possibly.

    So gender is how an individual perceives themselves, most probably, if you include into the equation the desire for other individuals and the state to understand and accept their self perception and to be treated equally.

    Oops we’ve arrived at ‘trans rights’.

    However we have also arrived at a separate issue which is far darker and more scary.
    Make no mistake every power or authority we grant an individual or group will eventually be used, most often against the person’s granting that authority. No matter how piously they claim, “it’s just in case”, “in the highly unlikely event”.
    It will be used, and it is frighteningly uncomfortable how easily it will slide into common usage.
    Ask people (sorry don’t know the current PC term) of Afro-Caribbean appearance how often ‘stop and search’ is gratuitously implemented.
    That is where we are with this section 35 use.
    Trans rights, which should be universal rights have been weaponized in order to normalise the use of this authority.
    And the way in which this has been done is the most frightening part.
    Since we have already established that ‘trans gender’ is not a physical condition, nor in most cases is it a desire to physically move from one state to another. It is in fact a state of mind how an individual perceives themselves and wishes to be recognised.
    That accepted, then this use of the section 35 is as was clearly pointed out by the FM this is the thin end of a terrifying wedge.
    Especially as it is being applied to a mental concept, rather than a physical state, a way of being, a mind picture of self.

    WELCOME TO ROOM 101 AND THE THOUGHT POLICE.

    For that is surely the final outcome of this road. If we allow this to carry on.
    Who will be next you, your sibling, your child, your parent.
    Be assured that anyone showing compassion, love of people, a social caring mind, thoughts of equality, love of country, religious faith, will be high on the list of candidates for re-education.

    Like

  5. And here is what your research did not cover. Because, of course, you did not think to look at the quality of work done to bring this legislation, IN SCOTLAND, to fruition.

    Can you answer any of the questions raised below at the bottom of this post?

    https://www.legalfeminist.org.uk/2022/11/27/new-clause-15a-of-the-gender-recognition-scotland-bill-a-chocolate-fireguard/

    “The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill proposes a raft of amendments to the gender recognition process in Scotland. It sounds dry and technical, and of interest only in Scotland. But the changes proposed by the Bill, including sweeping away the requirement for a medical diagnosis and reducing the minimum age to 16, will be of great legal and practical significance south as well as north of the border. This is because Scottish GRCs will be available to anyone who is resident in Scotland at the time of the application, or whose birth or adoption was registered in Scotland. If it goes through, there will soon be many individuals holding Scottish GRCs – granted on the basis of radically loosened criteria – resident in the rest of the UK.

    Similar changes were mooted by the Westminster Government in its 2018 consultation on GRA reform, but abandoned in light of the responses to that consultation.

    There’s much current debate about what exactly a GRC means for the operation of the Equality Act 2010, and especially for the operation of the single-sex exceptions in the Act. As yet, there are no definite answers provided by binding case-law. It has been widely argued that a GRC allows a biologically male holder easier access to all women-only spaces (toilets; changing rooms; single-sex hospital wards – including locked psychiatric wards where some of the most vulnerable and traumatised women in society are detained; rape crisis centres; prisons etc) subject only to very narrowly construed exceptions. Official guidance on the subject is in a state of flux. A statutory Code of Practice published in 2011 by the EHRC, the UK’s equality law regulator, suggests that a person with a GRC must be treated for the purposes of the exceptions as being of the “acquired sex”, which makes it more difficult to justify exclusion. More recent non-statutory guidance is silent on the impact of a GRC, and the 2011 Code is now under review.

    If the Bill in its current form is passed, single-sex spaces and services will come under intense pressure from members of the new, larger group possessing GRCs who feel entitled to automatic access. And public authorities and service-providers may well often be intimidated into allowing that access by the complexity and uncertainty of the potential legal arguments. There is already plentiful evidence that providers are struggling to understand the law here. Both the EHRC and the UN special rapporteur on violence against women and girls have raised grave concerns about the impact of the Bill. ”

    I watched some TV of the Committee deliberations and parliamentary scrutiny of this bill. It was deeply depressing how stupidity and incompetence prevailed.

    This piece by Legal Feminist quoted below may suggest some grounds for action by the UK government. Of course, the UK government is not immune from stupidity and may itself be messing up gender reform legislation.

    https://www.legalfeminist.org.uk/2022/11/14/chestertons-fence/

    “Note the assumption that not only is there no crossover between predatory, abusive men and those claiming to be trans but there can never be such a crossover.

    Still, no evidence? Really? Let’s be kind and accept she was only referring to those countries which had brought in self-ID as planned for Scotland. The Scottish government is always keen to emphasise how in line with international best practice it is. So it must surely have looked at what the evidence actually showed. Yes? Alas, no – as seen in this summary of the international position by MurrayBlackburnMackenzie[4].

    It’s worth noting:

    (1) the Scottish government has admitted that it has not found or done any research on the

    impact of self-ID laws on women in these other countries[5]. Always easiest to claim there is

    no evidence if you don’t bother looking for it, of course.

    (2) In fact, there is evidence of significant problems affecting women, for instance, men ID’ing as women to obtain access to women in places such as prison. In Canada, the US, even Argentina where self-ID was first enacted in 2012.

    Let’s look more widely. Is there any evidence in, say, the UK of abusive men pretending to be something else in order to abuse? Or using the cover of something fashionable or respected to carry out abuse?

    – A celebrity famous for his charitable activities, say? Why, yes: see Jimmy Savile.

    – Or an inspirational Olympic-winning swimming coach? Yes again – see George Gibney[6], one of many male sports coaches abusing those entrusted to their care.

    – What about the 19 IICSA Investigation Reports[7] into the multiple ways in which men abused their positions as priests, teachers, social workers, foster carers, sports coaches and so on to harm the vulnerable? An unbearable amount of evidence there.

    – Too long ago, maybe? Well, in the last week the HMICFRS Report[8] into the police has detailed how predatory men have become policemen, using that position to abuse women, girls and children.

    – What about Scotland? How about convicted sex offenders abusing loopholes allowing them to change their identity[9], the essence of the proposed GRR Bill? Yes, this has happened.

    – Or England? How about someone seeking to dupe a women’s refuge into letting a paedophile who claimed to be transto stay there for 71 days[10]. Again, yes.

    But these abusers are not from the trans community, might be the reply. Alas, there is evidence of men claiming to be trans and using that claim to gain access to victims[11]. Or to abuse victims then claim to be trans to avoid or mitigate punishment or gain access to women’s prisons where more victims may be found[12].

    What is not yet known – or not with great clarity – is whether those men who are either diagnosed with gender dysphoria or claim to be trans without such a diagnosis have the same rate and type of offending as other men or a higher or lower rate. Getting and understanding such evidence is surely essential before anyone can say that the “trans” community (however defined) poses no risk. Of that, however, there is no sign.

    The scale of abuse by male predators is hard to assess. Not all is reported. But that there is overwhelming evidence, accumulated over decades – about how predators operate, how they gravitate to places where victims are found, how they put themselves in positions where it is hard for them to be challenged, how loopholes are abused, opportunities exploited – is undeniable. There is no sector, class, place or profession where it does not happen. There is no group of people immune from being predators. There is no basis for saying that men who are or claim to be trans cannot be – and are not – abusers.

    Two facts are clear: overwhelmingly, sexual predators are men; overwhelmingly, their victims are females. The burden is surely on those proposing a reform allowing any man over 16 to change gender purely on his say-so to show why – and how – it will not be abused or exploited by those claiming to be trans.

    Two arguments are often used by the reform’s defenders.

    (1) Equating trans people with predators is unfair and offensive.

    It is no better than those who, opposed to gay rights, claimed that gay men were paedophiles.

    Current concerns are another unjustifiable moral panic.

    A strawman. It is not that trans people are abusers by definition. Of course, they aren’t. Rather, there will be abusers claiming to be trans in order to commit crimes or otherwise gain some advantage. It is they who are being unfair to trans people by using them as cover to exploit the opportunities the reformers will enable[13].

    Second, see what IICSA’s final report says: allegations of a moral panic about child abuse allowed a culture of denial of what was happening, giving cover to abusers[14]. There were instances of paedophiles who used councils’ desire to increase “diversity” to get jobs where they could abuse children, jobs they would not have got had there been proper due diligence and a focus on what mattered – safeguarding[15].

    The same point was made in last week’s report on the police. The recommendations of previous reports were ignored, the police were largely in denial about the problems, when women officers reported concerns they were not taken seriously, other considerations prevailed and risk assessment was poor. As the Chief Inspector wrote: “The police must be much more sceptical of those who want to wear the uniform.” [16]

    (2) “Ah, but men don’t need to use self-Id to carry out abuse” , say the reform’s defenders.

    After all, these crimes were committed before self-ID is even legally blessed. Well, not quite

    true. But how does that help? If men have already been claiming to be women in order to

    commit crimes, avoid punishment or get a lighter regime, why wouldn’t that increase once

    self-ID is enshrined in law, with the legal consequences the Scottish government is right now

    claiming before the courts?[17] It is not just the police who need to be “much more sceptical”.

    This rebuttal misses the point. Of course, predators don’t need self-ID to commit abuse. Sexual predators don’t needto become teachers, priests, sports coaches, entertainers, charity workers or anything else, either. But they do.

    The key questions – those the Scottish government has carefully avoided asking – are:

    – Are there risks that this reform – and how it is enacted – could be abused?

    – How great are those risks?

    – What are the consequences and for whom, if the risks are realised?

    – Does it prevent or limit challenge, an essential safeguarding requirement?

    – Can the risks be mitigated or eliminated? If so, how?

    – If they can’t, should the reform go ahead at all or in its current form?

    Three important lessons from previous reports are these:

    (1) Boundaries matter – whether physical, safeguarding procedures, vetting, due diligence,

    processes, legal requirements, conditions to be complied with, verifications or, in Matt Parr’s

    words, “scepticism” about why someone wants to join a particular group.

    (2) Ignoring previous reports, recommendations and evidence will make problems much

    worse.

    (3) Scandals happen when those boundaries are abolished, ignored, weakened or seen as

    secondary to some more important purpose: “diversity”, for instance, or the reputation of an

    institution or group, when challenge is made unacceptable.

    In Chesterton’s words – in their haste to remove the fence, people forget why the fence is needed.

    You won’t have visited this site either?

    https://murrayblackburnmackenzie.org/2023/01/17/guest-blog-gender-recognition-safeguarding-and-the-limitations-of-the-martin-amendment/

    Like

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