Do words harm more than silence? This is a genuine question. Why? Well, because so many people I know are currently silent on the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) debate and I wonder if their silence could cause more harm than the words they are afraid to mutter.
Why are they afraid? They do not want to be labelled “transphobic”, it really is that simple. I don’t want to offer a blanket defence as some of them may be transphobic, homophobic or just ill informed. Some of them are very definitely not suffering from any phobia, trans or otherwise and I put myself firmly in this bracket.
No ifs, no buts, trans, non-binary, non-defined people need to be afforded the same human rights I expect as a….human. Male, female, neither, or both, for me it really doesn’t matter. We are all human and therefore should all have equal rights. I really don’t know enough to argue the benefits or pitfalls of the proposals in GRA. I would like to know more, to ask more, to discuss, debate and then form an intelligent and informed decision based on what I hear.
However, when anyone raises this, there is a tendency for the label transphobic to be hurled at them and this is harmful to us all.
A few years ago, the Labour party were castigated, very rightly so, for the mugs that they had produced emblazoned with “Controls on immigration”. The mugs were appalling, ill informed and reactionary. However, there was, in certain areas, a perception that there was an issue with immigration. On the left, we deemed this as racist, we turned away as we would not enter dialogue with racists. We created a void and that void was filled by those on the right wanting to exploit the situation for their own ends. We ended up with Brexit and more and more reported hate crimes towards people of colour and immigrants of all nationalities. Not all of those who wanted to ask the questions were racist, some were for sure, we walked away from them all.
I believe there is an issue with immigration in these isles. So, let me quickly and very concisely explain why and what.
Local authorities in some areas have deliberately mis-managed immigration and have allowed ghettoisation. There has been withdrawal of funding at this level, into groups which help teach english, integration into local schools, communities, access to services, etc. Those new to our country have been left feeling isolated and therefore stick together as their only means of support and this has been used to point the finger of blame away from the Westminster Government to an easy, soft target.
Immigration should be a positive word for us all. New cultures, foods, workforces, tax payers, art forms etc are all huge benefits to Scotland and the other nations of the UK. Immigrants are our neighbours, friends, relatives, work colleagues, doctors, nurses. Without them our countries will not flourish or be able to pay for the care of our elderly as we all live longer. The skills that are brought to this country, in all fields, are necessary and we should all be rejoicing that anyone wants to share their lives with us……..but we don’t. Why?
We walked away from the conversation, blaming racism. Our voice was not heard. The reasons were not pushed, the narrative not changed. Now we face an uphill struggle to reverse the gains the right have made with their lies and deceit.
Let us not do the same on the GRA.
There are Transphobes who will use this debate. We must not normalise them. We must allow a reasoned and healthy debate. We must allow questions to be asked. This is important legislation, we want an engaged public. Therefore is it not our duty to ask those difficult questions, to inform with facts and reasoning? We cannot have every person who asks a question on the GRA labelled transphobic. It does not do justice to our collective intelligence.
It does, however, close the debate down. It allows us to walk away, leave a void. Who will fill that void? It sure as hell won’t be filled by those who seek to push for equality for everyone in the LGBTQIAP communities.
I am a feminist. I am not a “TERF”, I do not support the “Man Friday” movement. I don’t want to stop the changes that are necessary to the GRA. I want equality. Equality for all. I want self-identification for those who need it. It should be easier to live the life you choose. I want those who identify as gender fluid, or non-binary to be able to do so and have the same human rights afforded to them as the rest of society, not at the cost of these hard fought rights.
I believe we all need to give informed opinions on this and we all need to listen to the concerns that are raised. Don’t close it down, don’t walk away, don’t allow a void to be created and filled by those on the right that will use it for nefarious purposes. Allow everyone to have their questions, if the legislation needs amendments, let’s propose them and work together to give us the equality we all crave. For that is at the heart of everything for me, equality. I am a feminist, I want equality. Equality for us all.