Life can be unbelievably cruel and childhood experiences often have a lifelong impact. Unavoidable illness, bereavement and all sorts of tragic events comprise the human condition and are mainly beyond our control or ken. An entirely different experience occurs when wilful criminal behaviour blights the life of a little innocent and when she and her family are damaged forever. 

The reason why we have, in a civilised society, safeguarding is to prevent avoidable harm coming to those in weak or vulnerable positions, most usually women and children. This arises from our knowledge that some men do bad things causing women and children untold hurt. Not all men, but enough for us to justify single sex services, spaces and sports when sex means biological sex (as if there could be any other kind!). In other words, most men are law abiding but, to protect women and children from those men who are not, we have safeguarding and single sex provisions in place. Decent men understand why; they respect those boundaries. 

Single sex provisions though are about more than safety – they are also for dignity and respect. A man’s a man whether he’s wearing a dress and fake breasts or a kilt and a sghian dubh. For reasons of religion and belief some women choose their own female spaces separate from males; prayers at mosque being an obvious example. In recent years we’ve seen in Scotland the blurring of these boundaries. There’s been deliberate government policy and guidance to numerous public bodies to the effect that self identification is valid and to be lauded. 

In transgender guidance for schools, the Scottish government has favoured self identification, children have been taught that they can change sex, boys are allowed in girls’ toilets, changing rooms and sports; books have been promoted indicating that men are women and vice versa. 

Underpinning these moves remains the knowledge that women do not and never have presented the risks and dangers that some men do; this is why if lost or in need a little child might trust an unknown woman more than a strange man, in the same way we were taught as children to trust policemen. 

The political climate in Scotland today is toxic, polarised by the whims of a now former FM; the feelings of men permitted by a wrong thinking administration to take priority over the needs and rights of women and girls. Grand pronouncements of what predation comprises made in the main by politicians divorced from reality and from the views of the electorate. Criminal liability remains with the offender, but politicians have enabled processes jeopardising the rights of women including single sex provision in prison, hospital, rape crisis centres and women’s aid refuges. If a little girl victim of sexual crime seeks help today she may find that her first port of call in a rape advice centre is a trans identifying male set to wipe her tears and remind her to reframe her trauma; and if she attends hospital in her ward accommodated beside her may be another trans identifying male. So we do not, cannot and should not discriminate against people who claim the protected characteristic of gender reassignment – we simply say that predators will take every advantage they can and the protection of women and children should never be surrendered to protect the feelings of males, however they choose to present or dress.

#BeKind they said – to whom?