by Debbie Hayton
Tuesday, 2
February 2021
Reaction
11:00

The transgender debate is tearing the SNP apart

Joanna Cherry's card has probably been marked for some time
by Debbie Hayton
Joanna Cherry, Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Credit: Getty

The storm that has been gathering within the SNP over transgender rights has now blown up at Westminster with the sacking of Joanna Cherry MP from her front bench role as Spokesperson on Justice and Home Affairs.

Cherry’s card has probably been marked for some time. As a vocal critic of plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act to allow self-identification of legal gender, she has upset LGBT activists within the party. But last Tuesday she had the audacity to defend Sarah Phillimore, a fellow lawyer who had been banned by Twitter.

Phillimore is a high-profile critic of self-identification on legal gender, and she has also been outspoken in her opposition to the medicalisation of so-called transgender children. Usually in politics, her opponents would offer counter arguments. But the transgender debate is not normal politics; it is fuelled by rhetoric and emotion, and features ‘cancellation’ rather than discussion. Unless Nicola Sturgeon gets a grip, it risks tearing the SNP apart.

When Out for Independence, the official LGBTQ+ wing of the SNP, attacked the “support given to Sarah Phillimore”, it supplied no evidence to support their accusations of antisemitism or transphobia. Cherry herself described their intervention as “grossly defamatory”. Indeed even Twitter has since had second thoughts, telling Phillimore that, “our support team has reviewed you account and it appears we made an error.”

Sturgeon knows she has a problem. Activists within her party have been entranced by gender identity ideology. Casting aside science, they have tried to be kind to people — like me — who struggle with the expectations placed on us because of our sex. But it isn’t kind to deny truth, and the party is now in a mess.

The SNP government has made concession after concession to the gender identity lobby, and her Scottish Government remains committed to gender self-identification. They redefined “woman” to include anyone who is “proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of becoming female”. Whatever that means.

Meanwhile, they remain committed to gender self-identification. But by Wednesday Sturgeon felt she needed to make a personal appeal to party activists. In an unscripted video, she said:

“It grieves me deeply that … you consider at this stage the SNP not to be a safe, tolerant or welcoming place for trans people. That is not acceptable to me.”
- Nicola Sturgeon, Twitter

However, she has more to worry about than petulant activists. On Thursday, Kirsty Blackman MP — Cherry’s Westminster colleague — waded into the dispute declaring #IStandWithOFI, seemingly implying that allegations against Phillimore were founded.

When will Sturgeon realise that she can never do enough to satisfy the gender identity lobby? Instead, she needs to be firm, and foster a full debate over policy. Of course, we transgender people should be respected like everyone else, but we should also be subject to challenge like everyone else.

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Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
1 year ago

As an retired engineer and female by birth, I intensely dislike the idea of pretending either of
(a) you can change biological sex
(b) your biological sex determines your character.

It would be better behave how you wish, study what you wish, and apply the non-discrimination rules we have.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
1 year ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

My name is Napoleon, and nits 1803. If you don’t agree, you are cancelled.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
1 year ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

Character, no. Nature, yes – for populations, though not all individuals. Male & female brains generally develop differently, as a result of hormones. You might be an exception. I have a lifetime of observation to support my proposition

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  Jos Haynes

Your “proposition” is a biological reality, the exceptions prove the rule.

Katy Randle
Katy Randle
1 year ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

I agree. I think if the people making a lot of noise had a good think about (b) they might be less certain that those who don’t fit neatly into the prescribed characteristics for each sex are actually the other sex.

M Harries
M Harries
1 year ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

There are two genders, determined by observation at birth, no ‘assignment’ is made. Gender is synonymous with biological sex and is binary (yes, apart from intersex, of course). Personality is non-binary and gender is not affected by personality. Sexuality is a component of personality and it has a ying/yang nature if not somewhere on a masculine – feminine continuity.

Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first drive mad. This is the feeling I get. I’m not sure, but I think if I wrote the above in Canada I might be charged with a hate crime.

Where is this madness occuring? Is it just the North America and the UK, or are other parts of Europe coming apart over this too?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

The SNP government has made concession after concession to the gender identity lobby, and her Scottish Government remains committed to gender self-identification.
Hmmmm; you don’t suppose that the first part of that IS the problem, do you? This is reality with activism of any type – there is no clear end goal in mind, just activism for its own self-perpetuation and the aggrandizement of those who either make a living from it or receive attention by being connected.

Appeasement – and that’s what “concession after concession” means – is never a winning strategy. The appeased party simply comes back for more, as the trans movement is doing and as sane person could have predicted. The existential threat to womanhood continues and I am astounded at the number of women who sit by in silence.

If thinking about surgery is all that’s required for being a “woman,” then decades worth of feminist arguments are suddenly moot.

stephen f.
stephen f.
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Acceptance is not sufficient-you must kneel.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

About 40 years ago a UK journalist, Bernard Levin, coined the phrase, ‘Single Issue Fanatic’ or SIF. He predicted that the world (his world in the UK) would soon be ruled by SIFs. As a minority or a SIF you can give 100% of your energy to a cause, you can protest, write to people, lobby politicians, lobby journalists, etc. and you don’t mind doing this for ever. Meanwhile, the big boys (governments, town councils) just give in bit by bit to keep you quiet, not realising that each concession gets more and more dangerous. All of a sudden the minority becomes the majority. Where has the idea come from? How are most of the people affected?

In fact, there has been a revolution and nobody noticed.

Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Appeasement = pandering. Yes, the usual subjects are at it again. What happens when they win? Will the next movement be the one promoted by, say, the PIE lot from back in the 70s? They are activists for activism’s sake, pushing the boundaries as hard as they can and yes – there’s money in it. The women involved should hang their heads in shame.

Katy Randle
Katy Randle
1 year ago

Thanks for continuing to be the voice of reason on transgender issues, Debbie. Can’t be easy, but given the way identity politics works, it’s so useful to have the published opinion of a transgender person who is resisting the hysteria. It means I have something to hand to those who tell me I can’t have an opinion on certain subjects because “it’s not my lived experience.”

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Katy Randle

I love that attempt at discounting anyone who has not lived the subject. My usual reply is, are you only going to seek treatment for cancer from a doctor who has also had the disease?

Judy Simpson
Judy Simpson
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Thank you. Do you mind if I borrow this?

Peter Dawson
Peter Dawson
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

It’s the same with “actors” who must now have lived the reality of the part – so a straight white man cannot play a female part – oh – but a black lesbian woman can play a white king.

Peter Dawson
Peter Dawson
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Superb comment.

Stuart Y
Stuart Y
1 year ago

It comes to something when even the “hate filled right wing rag” (not my words)The Daily Mail describe Eddie Izzard as “SHE” in the headline of an article about HIM!! Stop the world I want to get off!!

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Stuart Y

My finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing is The Daily Mail, with over 50% of its readers being retirees. But to cheer you up, TDM now has a couple of articles using the term ‘woke’.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
1 year ago
Reply to  Stuart Y

True. I expect that nonsense from the BBC and Grauniad, but the DM doing it feels like a rubicon has been crossed.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Stuart Y

I thought exactly the same about the male…sorry mail…myself

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

These people are now as nuts as they are repulsive. What an absurd issue over which to tear your party apart! An issue that is only of interest to about 0.5% of the population, if that.

Politicians really do have an entirely different arrangement of neutrons relative to the rest of us. Somebody needs to study this properly.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I agree that the issue is not one over which to tear apart the party but NOT because of the small percentage of the population involved. If 0.5% were experiencing racism it would still be important to deal with it.

Richard Martin
Richard Martin
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

I am a very small percentage of the population, but I have lost my biro. Could everyone stop whatever they are doing, and help look for it please?

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Martin

A better analogy would be if you believe your biro to be a rainbow coloured dalmatian called Geoffrey chaucer, we all have to stand in our gardens shouting “Geoffrey, come and get your dindins…” in the expectation that he’s going to come running. Why should the general population be expected to pander to the delusions of the terminally confused?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

so we live by the tyranny of the <1%? And this isn’t even on a par with racism; this is people demanding that we ignore what our lying eyes can plainly see. It’s happening in the States with a Biden appointee who is a man in a dress but we’re supposed to say ”she” and call him Rachel. Because reasons.

David Waring
David Waring
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Does this make the US a more liberal or less of a tranicle place than Scotland?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

0.5% – areyou are buying into the propaganda

Ralph Windsor
Ralph Windsor
1 year ago

0,005% perhaps.

David Waring
David Waring
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

From a Particle Physics position Fraser I think you mean neurons?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  David Waring

I think he means neutrons.

Richard Martin
Richard Martin
1 year ago

Of course, sometimes otherwise sensible people have one silly idea, but more often people with one silly idea have other silly ideas too.
So it isn’t particularly surprising that a political party founded on the principle that Scotland could do better separated from the rest of the UK, is also gung ho for the idea that a man can call himself a woman if he wants to.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago

The SNP is a hard left socialist party masquerading as nationalist. A third of its supporters, being true nationalists – fond of tradition, proud of their deep ancestral identity and keen to maintain that identity through migration control – should drop it now. They have much of what they can reasonably want in the United Kingdom and will lose everything if they trust the EU and Sturgeon the Stooge. So-called “transgenderism” is a sign of what the Stooge and her myrmidons are after. It has nothing to do with the tartan. So come on, proper Nats – you are as powerful as Hungary used to be in the latter years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Leave Great Britain and you’ll be swallowed whole by the globalist machine.

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
1 year ago

Something makes me ask if the extra “juice” in the Transgender arguments in Scotland are at all related to the fact that a lot of men there wear skirts including that Mel Gibson who has so much to answer for on so many levels.

Perhaps in Scotland wearing a skirt does qualify as “proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of becoming female”.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Goodman

Very insightful, and almost certainly correct.

Duncan Hunter
Duncan Hunter
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Goodman

Be careful! Those skirt wearing men carry at least one knife on their person…

Paul Goodman
Paul Goodman
1 year ago
Reply to  Duncan Hunter

Ha! You be careful who you call a man.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

If we combine this story with the one below about school meals we could have the title of a famous Joy Divison song: ‘Lunch Will Tear Us Apart Again’

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago

I’m a great believer in giving a man enough rope. Sturgeon being the man in this instance.

David J
David J
1 year ago

Could be that we are almost at peak-Sturgeon.
And that’s without even thinking about her desire to gain independence, yet give it away to the EU, along with Scottish fishing rights.

Lou Campbell
Lou Campbell
1 year ago

Another great article Debbie. A calm clear coherent voice amongst the screaming.

morrison.aj
morrison.aj
1 year ago

I don’t discriminate against transgender people. I treat men who think they’re women the same way as I treat men who think they’re helicopters.

Andrea X
Andrea X
1 year ago

I have just read your article on the Spectator about Innocent (smoothie brand) getting caught in the transphobia furore.
Oh dear, is all I can say.

Joe Francis
Joe Francis
1 year ago

One aspect of this which, I think, doesn’t get much purchase is the resurgent Little Englander mentalities south of the border which is obscuring clear sight of the problem. Many English people think this civil war within the SNP (and that’s what it is) is proof that Scotland cannot run its own affairs. That would be a mistake. What has to be kept in mind is that as of 2010, the SNP became “The Establishment” in Scotland. The Tories sowed the seeds of conservative (small c) electoral destruction way back in the sixties when they drove the abolition of the old Scottish Unionists and forcibly incorporated them into the Tory Party. Labour died in Scotland because the Scots had had enough of their corruption and massive sense of arrogance and entitlement and the LibDems were always a nasty little sideshow anyway.

Once the new force emerged, it was immediately targetted by the woke, the self-absorbed, and the people who had visions of themselves as being bathed in perpetual light and being desperately needed by the world to lead it to some kind of new earthly paradise. The kooks, in other words. These people have zero interest in Scottish independence. Absolutely none whatsoever. Nothing. Zero. Nada. If anything, they’re probably privately hostile to it because a border with England will make it harder for them to spread the good word south.

But that doesn’t matter because the SNP was now dominant in Scotland and with planning, dedication and focus, they could infiltrate and take over the party and use it to shove their agenda down the necks of an unwilling populace. What you’re witnessing in the SNP now is a mirror of what we saw in Labour back in the 1980s when Kinnock slung Militant out on their necks. Sturgeon is on her last legs. I would be amazed if she lasted another six months. She’s hated by both sides. By the woke because she isn’t purging the party of the “haters”, and by the normal people because she isn’t standing up for them against the woke. I don’t know if Joanna Cherry — who seems, at the moment, to be the favourite to succeed Sturgeon — will have the strength to stand up to these people, but if she — or whoever succeeds — can’t, the SNP is finished.

Which brings us back to the English. Don’t get the idea that a collapsed SNP means a collapsed nationalist movement. They’re not the same thing by any stretch. The nationalist genie is well and truly out of the bottle now, and it ain’t going back in. It may take decades, but one way or another — at least in its present format — the union is finished.

David McKee
David McKee
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Francis

Nothing in human affairs is inevitable. It is very much in the interests of the SNP to pretend that it is. I suggest that great movements in history hinge on very small events – “For want of a nail…”. Joe is right, the SNP does dominate the establishment in Scotland. But then, for decades, Labour was in the same dominant position. Look how quickly that faded. Nationalism will never disappear completely, but it might fade back into the pursuit of cranks and gadflies.

We can but hope.

Stephen Tye
Stephen Tye
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Francis

The Union is finished? Good. You can go and raise your own money to pay for your profligate lifestyle. The £16bn pa (last time I looked) shoveled your way by the English taxpayer equates to around £8000 pa every year, year in year out, per Scottish taxpayer. Enjoy.

Joe Francis
Joe Francis
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Tye

It’s curious that a) you assume I’m a Scot because I don’t think Scotland will collapse without English oversight, and b) that you’re ready to believe the MSM about subsidized Scotland, but not about anything else. In fact, there is no ledger anywhere in Westminster detailing exactly how much Scotland puts in against how much it takes out. The UK government takes very good care such a book, if it does exist, should not be seen. Everything else is speculation and estimation.

Lee Floyd
Lee Floyd
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Francis

I’m pretty sure you are inaccurate on this. The government quotes about £1300 per person above that for the rest of the UK. Even if my figures are wrong, I’d be interested how a nation of 5 million people, with little industry, only 2 major conurbations and one of the lowest population densities in the world outside the Central Belt is able to outproduce the remaining 65million with the 5th largest economy on the planet.

Stephen Tye
Stephen Tye
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Francis

“there is no ledger anywhere in Westminster detailing exactly how much Scotland puts in against how much it takes out”- maybe, but there is an excellent analysis of the Scottish assembly’s income and expenditure account published every year by the Scottish Assembly’s statistical office, look it up. The difference of expenditure over income is the English subsidy.

It’s all there in black and white.

Geoff Cooper
Geoff Cooper
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Francis

I agree that Scottish independence now seems inevitable sooner or later, the demographics seem to make it a certainty. But why do you assume us ‘Englanders’ little or not, are opposed to Scotland going its own way?
As a leave voter I feel it would be hypocritical of me to want independence for my country, England, yet to seek to deny independence to the Scots if that is what a majority of their people desire.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
1 year ago
Reply to  Geoff Cooper

Agree with you last sentiment but not your first sentence. There is nothing inevitable about it. Saying YES in an opinion poll with no ramifications is a lot different from saying YES in a Referendum when the stark realities loom extremely large.

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Francis

I think there is bemusement south of the border and do we help the Union more or less by intervening? In the meantime, if I lived north of the border I would be worried about the lack of a proper opposition and the creation of a one-party state. It is not good for democracy or good government.

Lee Floyd
Lee Floyd
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Francis

I just can’t see how the Union can be finished. The Scots devolution bill regulates what the Scottish devolved government is responsible for, and constitutional matters aren’t in that list. Calling a local election a ‘mandate’ for a national position isn’t the case – there isn’t a nation, and hasn’t been one since the 18th century. These are facts. Just saying that Scotland can be independent under the terms of the current arrangements is simply wrong, whatever one’s take on the rights and wrongs, benefits or otherwise of independence.

Peter Dawson
Peter Dawson
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Francis

So that’s why she’s been kicked out of the party then.

Andrea X
Andrea X
1 year ago

“When will Sturgeon realise that she can never do enough to satisfy the gender identity lobby? Instead, she needs to be firm, and foster a full debate over policy.

Change Sturgeon with Johnson and the “gender identity lobby” with Sturgeon and you have a nice depiction of where we are now with devolution.
Interesting that NS seems to to have really learnt her on lesson when she is at the receiving end.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

I’m not in sympathy with the SNP but well done Joanna Cherry on this matter.

katrinaangus
katrinaangus
1 year ago

In my own humble opinion there are only 2 sexes and as many genders as there as people, ergo treat people as individuals not by how they identify.

Karen Lindquist
Karen Lindquist
1 year ago

More trans identifying people would do well to stop hiding in the wings and speak out against the loud mouthed activists who openly promote violence and silencing of women if they want to ever get on with living their lives in peace.
I have trans friends who see the trans movement as a cult and want to just be left alone.
I can identify, as I always felt I was a feminist by default because I refused to live my life being shamed, guilted or coerced into doing things i did not want to do, such as have a child or pander to traditional women’s customs. I have always been interested in politics, and worked in a trade job generally dominated by men. So, I view myself as an example of feminist living, not wanting to be given special rights but just to be allowed to pursue my life goals unfettered by roles or expectations of others. It’s my life.
And yet, in every feminist group I’ve encountered, there is a prevailing mentality of bullying and silencing of the ones who walk the walk and just want to live. I see it in groups for civil rights as well.
The million dollar question here is not even why such a tiny segment of the western population can take so much power in such a short time, but rather who are these billionaires and ruling class people who are financing and hurrying this shit along in legislation so effectively, and why?
I honestly wonder every day if it isn’t simply an easy means of silencing and shackling biological women. Because that seems to be the only objective being achieved.
A few high ranking men, mainly in the medical field, have been fired or de-platformed, but it’s mainly women that are being targeted. Mostly in government, sports, and education.
It’s hard for me to believe that the queer community really wanted this to be their big issue that eclipses all other issues. No one I know IRL upholds this.