UN says Scotland's proposal for gender self-ID poses risk to women and girls

A UN expert has called on Nicola Sturgeon to reconsider proposed changes to Scotland’s Gender Recognition Act that would make it easier for males to self-ID as women and gain access to women’s spaces, because violent males could take advantage.

Mia Ashton Montreal QC

The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls has called on Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to reconsider proposed changes to Scotland’s Gender Recognition Act that would make it easier for males to self-ID as women and gain access to women’s spaces, a change the UN expert says could be taken advantage of by violent males.

In an interview with BBC Scotland, Reem Alsalem said the concern is “that it makes it easier for violent males to take advantage of the process and therefore also have access to spaces that are really designed…for women in all their diversity, but also single sex spaces, and including shelters, prisons.”

The Scottish government says the proposed changes are simply aimed at making it easier for people who identify as transgender to legally change their sex, and include plans to lower the minimum age for obtaining a gender recognition certificate from 18 to 16, as well as reducing the required time living in the “acquired gender” from 2 years to 6 months.

“The Scottish Government argues that it's abusive, manipulative men who are a threat to women's safety, not this law. They insist that that is not the case. How do you respond to that?” the BBC interviewer asked the UN expert on violence against women and girls.

Reem responded that whenever public policy is going to grant access to vulnerable groups such as women and girls, or victims of abuse, this process always has to have safeguards.

Highlighting the global importance of this debate surrounding the self-ID legislation in Scotland, Neem told The Times that she has been receiving messages from women all over the world who are concerned about their own government’s plans to enact similar laws.

“Many [say] their safeguarding concerns have not been taken into consideration,” Neem said in an interview with The Times. “The way in which the governments of Scotland and the UK bring this matter to a conclusion has implications that go beyond Scotland and the UK.”

World-renowned author JK Rowling, who once called Nicola Sturgeon a “destroyer of women’s rights,” tweeted to say Sturgeon is treating the genuine safeguarding concerns raised by feminists as “an impertinence,” and criticized Scottish Labour for ignoring public opinion and internal criticism and handing the Conservatives an “open goal on safeguarding.”

Rowling reportedly sent a case of champagne to a feminist who heckled Sturgeon at a recent charity event. The feminist had accused Sturgeon of “fomenting a culture in Scotland that basically tells women they are bigoted for standing up for women’s rights.” Attendees of the event aimed at ending male violence against women and girls had been asked beforehand not to bring up the issue of single-sex spaces or the definition of woman in order to create a safe and supporting environment for everyone in attendance.

The concerns raised by feminists about allowing males to self-ID as women and gain access to vulnerable women and girls were vindicated earlier this week when it was reported that a pedophile had identified as transgender in order to groom, sexually assault, and impregnate a 14-year-old girl.

Detransitioners are also concerned about Sturgeon’s proposed Gender Recognition Bill, arguing that reducing the minimum age to legally change sex from 18 to 16 puts vulnerable young people at an even greater risk of being inappropriately transitioned in Scotland’s youth gender services.

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