JK Rowling 'not helping' trans debate, say Greens

High-profile opponents of the Scottish Government’s move to reform legislation around gender recognition are putting transgender people’s lives at risk, a Green minister has said.

Lorna Slater, minister for the circular economy, and Patrick Harvie, minister for zero carbon buildings, both accused critics of gender recognition reform of misrepresenting reality and of “misinformation”.

Author JK Rowling is among high profile opponents of the reform and took to Twitter to attack Nicola Sturgeon over the moves last week.

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Shona Robison, social justice minister, announced the government’s plans for reform to gender recognition legislation.

British author andJ .K. Rowling. Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via GettyBritish author andJ .K. Rowling. Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty
British author andJ .K. Rowling. Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty

Opponents claim changes to the law will negatively impact the rights of women and girls and threaten single-sex spaces for women, particularly those who are survivors of sexual assault.

The government and most LGBT organisations argue reform will not do this due to protections in the Equality Act and will make a bureaucratic and unfit-for-purpose system for gender recognition simpler and cheaper for trans people.

Critics of the reform took to social media to criticise Ms Robison’s comments that “predatory and abusive men have ever had to pretend to be anything else to carry out abusive and predatory behaviour”.

Mr Harvie said those opponents had “misrepresented” the comments and when asked about Ms Rowling’s reaction to the bill, he said: “I don't think she is helping. I think she knows she is not helping.

"I think she is advocating positions that are against trans people's equality and human rights, I think that's very clear."

Ms Slater said the response from high profile figures such as JK Rowling was part of a wider "misinformation campaign".

She said: "I think there is a lot of misinformation around and unfortunately some of that is coming from very high profile people."

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She added: “I think the whole conversation and the misrepresentation do indeed put trans lives at risk and also other LGBTQ people at risk.

"This has a genuine effect on society, it has a genuine effect on trans people themselves.

"I thought that Shona Robison did an excellent job of explaining very clearly what is and isn’t covered under GRA reform and I think it’s irresponsible for people to share that kind of misrepresentation.”

Both ministers and Green co-leaders said they did not expect any need for them to consider stepping away from the cooperation agreement with the SNP over the potential for the bill being watered down.

They said the numbers in Holyrood are clearly there and the bill will be passed with minimal fuss.

Mr Harvie said misrepresentation of ministers “genuinely shows they cannot win on the substance of this argument and so they have to misrepresent”.

He added it was “sad and hurtful” to trans people, and said it was time to deliver legislation promised by all five political parties in 2016.

He said: "These are long overdue promises, they need to be made good on.

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"Of course there will be the threat of some mischievous amendments as well as I'm sure some amendments that are genuinely intended to make the bill better.

"We'll, as ever, treat every amendment on its merits, listen to the arguments and I have no doubt that we will pass a strong bill that achieves what was promised all that time ago."

A spokesperson for JK Rowling said the author would not comment.

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