Alex Salmond issues warning to SNP MPs
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Alex Salmond warned that Scottish independence has been set back years as a result of the row over trans rights. He accused Nicola Sturgeon of having “thrown away” years of campaigning for Scottish independence over her controversial trans laws. The former SNP leader described the row as “self-indulgent nonsense”.
The issue was thrown into the spotlight when the Government used its veto to block the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.
The legislation, passed by Holyrood in December, would have removed the requirement for trans people to have a medical diagnosis before obtaining a certificate confirming their preferred gender.
Westminster’s decision to block the bill from going for royal assent is the first time the veto has been used.
The row escalated further after trans woman Isla Bryson was sentenced for two rapes committed prior to her gender change.
Pending sentence, Bryson was initially sent to Cornton Vale women’s prison, before she was transferred to HMP Edinburgh.
Justice Secretary Keith Brown then announced a “pause” on the transfer of transgender prisoners with a history of violence against women to women’s prisons.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was forced to come to Holyrood last week to state that no transgender prisoner with a history of violence against women would be placed in a female prison.
Scottish Trans has said the current requirements for applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate are overly laborious, saying: “The time, evidence, and money required, as well as the emotional toll of potentially having an application rejected, mean that many trans people do not apply – even those who have otherwise ‘completed’ every other aspect of their transition.”
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It adds: “This is very frustrating for many trans men and women who find that this slow, bureaucratic process is preventing them from otherwise just getting on with their lives.
“Many trans people know they are trans a long time before they socially, medically, and legally transition, and do not make the choice to do so lightly.
“Requiring at least two years of evidence is then an excessively long and arbitrary amount of time to ensure that someone is certain they want to change their legal sex, especially as they also have to make a statutory declaration as part of the process.”
But critics say the law undermines sexual equality and poses a risk to women’s safety.
This policy applies regardless of whether a prisoner has a gender recognition certificate (GRC), and, as both the SPS and Scottish government have stressed in recent days, there is no automatic right for a transgender prisoner to be accommodated according to their acquired gender.
The numbers in question remain very small in Scotland: trans men and trans women comprised 0.05 percent and 0.15 percent of the prison population respectively as of September 2022, the latest period for which data is available. There were 15 transgender prisoners in custody – 11 trans women and four trans men.
Of those 11 trans women, six are held in the men’s estate and five in the women’s estate. Of the four trans men, one is held in the men’s estate and three in the women’s estate.
Following a freedom of information request last autumn, the SPS confirmed to the Times that half of trans inmates – then 16 – began their transition after they were convicted.
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