SNP's Mhairi Black says she's been challenged when using women's toilets

SNP MP Mhairi Black, who supports the changes to the Gender Recognition Act, says she's been challenged when using women's toilets.
SNP MP Mhairi Black, who supports the changes to the Gender Recognition Act, says she's been challenged when using women's toilets.
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SNP MP Mhairi Black says she has been challenged over her gender when using women's loos.

The Paisley MP told the Herald on Sunday that she has been questioned about her presence in women's toilets, as she backed controversial changes to laws which would see transgender people "self identify" as the gender they feel they are, in order to gain a Gender Recognition Certificate.

Currently the law says those who wish to transition must live as their preferred gender for two years and receive a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria before they can receive a GRC. Both the UK and Scottish governments have pledged to make the process less invasive for transgender people, however many women's organisations have raised concerns that it would leave women and girls less safe from predatory men.

Ms Black, who caused uproar when in a social media video called women who were concerned about the legal changes "Jeremy Hunts", said she had been challenged several times in women's toilets, which made her more supportive of transgender people's campaign to change the law.

She said: "I've been challenged going into female toilets before, course I have. Are you kidding?

"I'm the sort of person who can deal with it but there was one time I didn't even have to and it was on teh most powerful things I've experienced. There was a woman beside me who said [to the person questioning me] 'who the hell do you think you are, who are you to police this?'

"That is exactly what I needed in that situation. I didn't have power, but the woman beside me did. In this debate I'm the person with the power and I'm not leaving trans people behind."

The Scottish Government shelved it's planned changes to the GRA at the end of the last parliamentary session and said it would conduct more consultation after "valid concerns" were raised.

It is expected that in its Programme for Government to be announed this week, the SNP government will say that it will again bring forward a new GRA, although the issue has seen divides open up in the party.

Both Ms Black, and her colleague Hannah Bardell MP, said they had "absolutely no doubt" that the proposals would be implemented, and Ms Bardell said that she was concerned some elected members had supported organisations which she believes are "clearly transphobic."

She said: "I respect all my colleagues but I find it very difficult to see those organisations that are being transphobic supported."

Ms Black added: "I do struggle with people who think their world is crumbling over a bureaucratic change about a certificate. I have had some very positive conversations with people, men and women, MPs from my own party and others, who want to understand and when you explain what the proposals mean, they are behind them. The reforms will still be happening though, absolutely without a doubt."

Ms Bardell also said that some of the rhetoric in the debate was "straight out of the 80s... propaganda that was used against lesbian and gay people is now being used against trans people. That is really worrying.

"People absolutely need to have the opportunity to discuss this but the most important thing is to have compassion and be able to listen. I've tried really hard but it becomes impossible to have a sensible debate sometimes, without people becoming hysterical, who are clearly anti-trans.

"We are looking to modernise legislation and processes that are already in place, and people have hijacked that and turning it into something that it just isn't about. There's an awful lot of misinformatio being spread about what the plans actually mean and we have to find ways of getting the facts out there."