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by Joseph Anderson
06 May 2022
Joanna Cherry challenges Sturgeon and Davidson to debate on gender reform

Joanna Cherry challenges Sturgeon and Davidson to debate on gender reform

Joanna Cherry has challenged Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson to a debate on Gender Recognition Act (GRA) reform.

The Edinburgh South West MP, who has frequently spoken out about the potential risks to women’s rights by proposals to allow trans women to self-identify their gender, told The National newspaper she wants both politicians to meet with her and debate trans and women’s rights.

Cherry’s call for a debate followed on from comments made by the First Minister this week when she declined to define the characteristics of a woman, insisting that oversimplifying the gender debate risks harming trans people who are the “most stigmatised and discriminated against minorities in our society”, and that she would argue “until my dying breath” that there was no conflict between women’s rights and trans rights.

The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill aims to simplify the procedure which trans men and women need to go through in order to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate and be legally recognised as their transitioned gender.

Currently, trans people have to obtain a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and live in their acquired gender for two years to obtain a gender recognition certificate, but under the proposed changes, all medical gatekeeping would be removed and the time they would be required to live in their acquired gender would be reduced to three months with a further three-month “reflection period”.

The minimum age for obtaining a gender recognition certificate would also be lowered from 18 to 16.

Campaigners for self-ID argue that the lengthy process to get a GRC puts unnecessary strain on the NHS, due to the required involvement of multiple practitioners, and requires too many invasive medical examinations.

Critics of self-ID, however, say the proposed legislation could be in breach of the Equality Act 2010, and would allow trans women access to single-sex spaces, sports and services, which they say could endanger women. The Equality and Human Rights Commission, the UK regulator, has also expressed concerns and called for a pause on the legislation.

In a column for The National, Cherry said: “There is in fact nothing ‘transphobic’ about defining what a woman is.

“The Equality Act passed by a Labour Government and supported by the SNP defines a woman as a female of any age. Is that transphobic? You cannot defend women’s rights if you cannot define what a woman is.

“Likewise, you cannot legislate for trans rights if you are not prepared to define what a trans person is. And the reforms to the GRA don’t do that.”

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