JK Rowling hits out as Humza Yousaf confirms trans women will be protected by misogyny laws

JK Rowling has hit out at Humza Yousaf after the First Minister confirmed trans women will be protected by misogyny laws.

Humza Yousaf has confirmed trans women will be protected by new misogyny laws in a move critics have said will only fuel “toxicity” around the gender debate.

The First Minister stressed whoever was directing misogynistic abuse would be unaware if a woman was trans or not as he stressed these individuals often faced “threats of rape and threats of disfigurement”.

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But Mr Yousaf has been criticised by campaigners, including author JK Rowling and the Scottish Conservatives, who do not believe trans women are women, over his assessment of who the misogyny legislation will safeguard.

Humza Yousaf has been criticised by JK Rowling (PA)Humza Yousaf has been criticised by JK Rowling (PA)
Humza Yousaf has been criticised by JK Rowling (PA)

The Scottish Government previously came under fire for leaving out the sex characteristic from its controversial hate crime legislation after a review by human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy found that specific misogyny offences needed their own law.

Mr Yousaf has now insisted that trans women will be protected under the coming legislation.

He said that “women and girls will be protected and trans women will be protected”. “Often they are the ones suffering threats of rape and threats of disfigurement,” he said.

“It may be the case that a trans woman is walking down the street and receives a threat of rape made against them and the man making the threat doesn’t know if they are trans or a cis woman. They must make an assumption based on the perception of them as a woman.”

Meghan Gallacher, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives. (Image: Lisa Ferguson/National World)Meghan Gallacher, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives. (Image: Lisa Ferguson/National World)
Meghan Gallacher, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives. (Image: Lisa Ferguson/National World)

The First Minister said “Baroness Kennedy does a fair bit of work on this” in her review, stressing that “it should cover anyone who is a victim of such an offence”.

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Humza Yousaf doesn't rule out puberty blocker restrictions as Sandyford pressure...

Mr Yousaf said the Bill would be pushed forward with "urgency and pace", due to the number of women who have "raised concerns" over sex not being covered within the hate crime legislation.

But Ms Rowling, who opposes transgender rights, was quick to criticise the First Minister’s remarks.

First Minister Humza Yousaf. Image: Fraser Bremner/Getty Images.First Minister Humza Yousaf. Image: Fraser Bremner/Getty Images.
First Minister Humza Yousaf. Image: Fraser Bremner/Getty Images.
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Writing on X, the Harry Potter author said: “Once again, Humza Yousaf makes his absolute contempt for women and their rights clear. Women were excluded from his nonsensical hate crime law, now he introduces a 'misogyny law' designed to also protect men.”

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Meghan Gallacher added: “This is yet another attempt by the SNP to create a hierarchy of protected characteristics. It risks pitting different activist groups against each other and increasing the toxicity of the debate.”

It comes as the Scottish Government rejected calls from the Conservatives to give a statement to Holyrood on its response to the landmark Cass review into transgender services for young people in England.

Mr Yousaf’s Government and NHS Scotland have been criticised by opponents for failing to announce an immediate halt to the use of hormone therapy for those aged under 18 after NHS England confirmed a similar move last month.

The pressure comes after Dr Hilary Cass published her report into gender services for young people in England and Wales, which warned the use of puberty blockers from the age of 16 should be done with “extreme caution”, adding “we have no good evidence on the long-term outcomes of interventions to manage gender-related distress".

Ms Gallacher told MSPs she had “repeatedly asked for a review similar to the Cass review to look at children and young people’s gender-related services” north of the Border.

She said she had “warned about the lack of evidence in relation to puberty blockers” and called on SNP ministers to “pause puberty blockers until we have more evidence that they are safe to use”.

In response, SNP parliamentary business minister, George Adam reiterated the Cass findings would be “closely considered”.

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He said: “The Cass Review was into services in NHS England, not Scotland. Therefore it is clearly not the responsibility of the Scottish Government to respond to that, but for the UK government to respond with its ideas for their NHS.”

Earlier, Mr Yousaf did not rule out puberty blockers being banned or restricted for young trans people in Scotland. The First Minister suggested his Government was considering more regional health centres to take pressure away from Scotland’s only dedicated facility for teenagers.

Reports suggest there are fewer than 20 young people in Scotland being prescribed puberty blockers by NHS Scotland for gender dysphoria. As of the end of last year, Scotland's only specialist gender clinic for under-18s, the Sandyford in Glasgow, had more than 1,100 patients on its waiting list.

Mr Yousaf has rejected calls from opponents for the Sandyford to close, but has not ruled out tighter restrictions being placed on puberty blockers.

The First Minister said “the Scottish Government and health boards will be taking the time to look through the report and examine it in detail”.

“I am not going to be making decisions on what clinicians should or shouldn’t prescribe, but this is a very lengthy report and something that is getting the utmost consideration,” he told the BBC.

“I promise it is not going to take an inordinate amount of time to consider, but it is a 400-page report and we should take time over it when it comes to deciding the way forward for some of our most marginalised children.”

Mr Yousaf added: “In terms of Sandyford, I don’t believe there is a case to close Sandyford. It provides sexual healthcare to the most marginalised and vulnerable across the spectrum. One of the key recommendations is around more regional health centres and that’s worth consideration and worth exploring.

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“I would simply point out that it’s better for clinicians with expertise to make decisions on puberty blockers, not politicians. Every recommendation Dr Cass makes will be considered as part of considerations of the entire report, including the recommendations on puberty blockers.”

In response, Ms Gallacher said: “This interview again exposed Humza Yousaf’s painfully weak leadership. On the Cass Review, he failed vulnerable young people and their parents by stalling for time and passing the buck to clinicians.

“It’s an abdication of leadership not to pause the prescribing of puberty blockers in the interim. The First Minister says a variety of options are being considered, yet guaranteeing Scottish youngsters evidence-based treatment or closing the Sandyford do not appear to be among them.”



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