Mhairi Black, the Scottish National Party MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, has been applauded on social media for her “outstanding” speech during a debate on the reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA).
The legislation, passed in 2004, enables individuals to apply for a gender recognition certificate (GRC) if they have changed their gender, but Ms Black told MPs in Westminster Hall on Friday that the current process is “deeply invasive” and “dehumanising”.
“There are 17 countries in the last decade that have passed reform of some kind in GRA and there has been no complaints. There is no sound argument for this legislation to be delayed anymore,” she added.
The MP continued to say “legitimate concerns” she has come across “always seems to relate back to this concept of self-ID”, which refers to the right to identify their own gender.
“So firstly, let me say this: self-ID is not a new concept. It’s the right all of us have to identify who we are.
“Every time you fill in a form, you are self-identifying your nationality, your sexual orientation, your religion.
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“Every time you go to pee, you are self-identifying which facility best suits your needs. Do I need baby facilities? Do I need the disabled toilet? Male or female? Is there a unisex toilet,” she said.
The Scottish politician also took aim at claims “women’s rights are being threatened” by self-identification, to which she replied that she was a woman and “I don’t feel threatened”.
She instead argued that “very aggressive and – often male – anonymous accounts” on social media “who proclaim to be defending me from something”.
Ms Black also noted, “overwhelming support” for GRA reform from women’s rights charities and public consultations.
In 2018, a government consultation on reforms to the act was carried out, which saw four in five (80.3 per cent) of respondents express support for removing the requirement for a medical report about someone wishing to apply for a GRC.
However, in their response to calls for reform two years later, the UK Government – specifically Liz Truss, the minister for women and equalities – argued the “balance struck in the existing legislation is correct”.
Ms Black went on to criticise the “culture war” around trans rights, claiming Britain “is in the full grasp of a moral panic” and pointing out a recent report by the Council of Europe which condemned “extensive and virulent attacks” on LGBT+ rights in the UK – alongside other countries such as Hungary, Poland and the Russian Federation.
“Despite expert opinion, despite mountains of evidence, despite knowing the lived experiences of trans and non-binary people, despite numerous consultations and debates, five years on, we’re still dragging our heels.
“Let me make it as clear as I can: if someone doesn’t support self-ID, then their issue is not with the Gender Recognition Act, it’s with the Equality Act.
“If someone wants to start removing established rights from over a decade ago in the Equality Act, then at least be honest about that … but do not dare say that you are doing it in the name of defending women, because it just doesn’t stick.
“If we don’t pursue these reforms, all I can say, chair, is that I hope history judges us as harshly as we deserve,” Ms Black concluded.
The MP’s remarks have since received widespread acclaim on social media, with users describing the politician’s contribution as “outstanding”:
Responding on behalf of the government, minister Mike Freer said: “Whilst we may not agree on some of the fundamental reforms that the petitioners were seeking, I have heard very loud and clear, the many issues – particularly of process – that we need to address.”
“It cannot be right that people have to wait 25 years for an appointment at a gender identity clinic,” he said.
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