SMALL TOWN GIRL
Born in Stirling, I spent my first years in caravans in Blairlogie and Crieff then moved to Alva where our home was a house. I live there still having had Uni years in Edinburgh and a couple of months working In Dundee. My education was such that there’s an ability to communicate on various levels; I use and understand big words as well as wee ones; not only am I not the biggest dunderheid to come out of my town, I am not the smartest either, nor the most courageous, kindest or most diplomatic.
There’s a reason for this explanation – it’s that Scots, despite our numerous flaws, are mainly pretty astute people regardless of economic, domestic, educational, employment or ethnic background. We recognise the smell of shite.
And this week, perhaps amongst the most significant of weeks in my political adventure, I smell shite. And so do you.
We’ve got today two competing strands in Scotland’s politics when it comes to success, efforts and publicity – one is the dream of independence, which is by far the greatest most important and transformational aim; and the other the issue about whether and if so to what extent and for what purposes it might be possible to alter one’s sex. We know, for this is scientific fact, not opinion or belief, that sex is immutable. There’s a debate about whether legal sex can and does change. And if so why and for what purpose. Who gains from such? And why?
And I promise you this – if you chapped any door in my home town of Alva or in my old home on that caravan site in Crieff and asked about whether it is or should be possible for a person to change sex and use the single sex spaces of other than their birth sex, you would be at best questioned and at worst chased.
What you would also find is genuine understanding and empathy for transgender people who need or desire to live as the opposite from their birth sex; there is also understanding of intersex and related difficulties; when I was a wee girl my Gran told me of an intersex child in my home town; the entire population cared and protected that bairn and family. Genuine need is respected; fabricated performance is not. And in case you want to accuse me of other phobias, I will confirm that Alva was home and gave solace to many homosexual friends long before such was deemed legal; I know for several were good friends of mine.
This gender or sex changing argument is nothing but an unwelcome distraction from the political problems Scotland faces. It’s not a dispute because of a need to oppress those who consider åthemselves different from their sex identified at birth; all are welcome to live as they wish. The only dilemma arises from the need of one sex to invade the single sex spaces of others. And that is being manipulated as a tool to divide the Independence movement. It is in danger of succeeding.
It was a hard watch tonight to see women arrive at my old Uni intending to watch a film made by for and about women and see them abused and vilified by trans identifying men. That was abusive bullying and misogyny. Notwithstanding decisions of courts and tribunals, women remain allowed to have their own toilets and pockets and theatres and movies. Good Lord, in some though not all health authorities there are single sex wards. Some still believe that cervical smears, breast screening and tampons are for women, not men. Whatever next?
I was born in Stirling, the constituency now of one who favours self identification leading to erosion of women’s rights; I’d my law studies in Edinburgh, that establishment which tonight surrendered women’s rights of assembly and free speech to those of a long haired trans identifying male or perhaps non binary adherent ; I started school in Crieff, part of Perthshire where the rebel Jim Fairlie may yet strike another blow for women’s rights and I live in Clackmannanshire, represented by one who blocked me long ago and who doesn’t want to see the difference between a woman and a man with a GRC. He refuses to understand that there is no merit in applauding a rise in support for Independence when there is no determined means of achieving that goal.
Those who support Scotland’s Independence deserve determined cogent courageous action, not soundbites and apologies leading to yet more years of inaction. Representatives of Scotland fattened, warmed and nourished as our country starves and freezes are no better and arguably worse than those feeble 50 of Labour who watched Thatcher dismantle and shaft Scotland. May we not be fooled again.
This small town girl has a long memory and a wide gaze. Like elephants, women never forget.