East Lothian Courier – 8 December 2022


The Scottish Governments proposals on gender reform are proving highly controversial. Transphobia’s to be condemned and those who undergo the procedures to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate must be protected. But I share the concerns that many women’s rights campaigners have about the requirement for protecting single sex spaces and the dangers of gender Self -ID.

Call me old fashioned but I think separate toilet facilities are appropriate and unisex facilities should only be where space limited or some other reason. Moreover, just as there’s medical procedures where I’d want a male Doctor, that applies even more to women, as well as more widely than just health care.

Those are the practical issues but they’re important to many women and their rights also need protected. But it also affects the protection of women from danger and further trauma. Just a few weeks back a man, and a convicted sex-offender at that, was placed in the women’s prison estate as he self ID’d as a woman. As a former Justice Secretary, I find that absurd and dangerous.

The Scottish Government have been playing down the risk to women from predatory males’ self -ID’ing as women. So, I made some investigation with the UK Justice Ministry as to what was happening in England and Wales. I was informed that there were 230 transgender prisoners in March/April 2022.

That isn’t those with a gender recognition certificate and who have undergone surgery. It’s those who simply identify as women, usually to avoid going into male prisons. Of those 230, 97 had a conviction for a sexual offence, crimes which are rarely committed by women. Even more starkly, 44 had rape convictions, which’s a crime women cannot commit.

That’s an abuse of the system and a danger to women in the prison estate, most of whom have suffered from male violence, whether parent or partner. They are deeply troubled and vulnerable. It’s not just the risk to them of physical assault but the trauma of being with males in a very confined space. The state has a duty to protect not endanger them. This legislation is flawed.