There are 'definite bad actors' in the debate on trans rights, says Mhairi Black MP
Mhairi Black says trans people should not be used as an intellectual debate, and said there are “bad actors” trying to radicalise people in the ongoing trans rights debate.
The SNP’s deputy Westminster leader spoke in support of the trans community during an appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe, and said the whole debate is rooted in misogyny and fuelled by the patriarchy.
She also said it is “nonsense” for people to claim they are being cancelled for holding gender critical views, and said she was deeply hurt by first minister hopeful Kate Forbes’s comments on gay marriage.
Ms Black became one of the youngest MPs ever when she was elected to the Paisley and Renfrewshire South seat in 2015.
But despite rising through the ranks to become the party’s deputy leader in the House of Commons, the 28-year-old recently announced she will be stepping down at the next general election because of the “toxic” culture in Westminster.
She spoke to an audience at the Fringe on her decision to leave Westminster politics and her thoughts on a number of key political issues, including independence and her hopes for the future.
She was also asked to share her thoughts on the ongoing debate around trans rights and said trans people should be able to live with “dignity and happiness” and said the media and politicians should “leave them the hell alone”.
Back in December 2022, a majority of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament voted in favour of reforming the Gender Recognition Act and making it easier for trans people to legally change their gender.
However this was subsequently blocked by the UK Government.
Ever since this debate started, there has been a split within the SNP between those who support the proposed gender reforms, and those who hold gender critical views, such as Joanna Cherry, who sits alongside Ms Black on the SNP benches in Westminster.
Ms Black said: “If you are a human being, you are not an intellectual debate and nor should you be made to be one.
“Once upon a time intellectuals made great prolific statements about race, saying ‘I think you’ll find the statistics show more BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) people, crime goes up’.
“They might have been an intellectual, but they were also a racist.
“The vast majority of people don’t know a lot about the trans community, and why should they? They are less than one per cent of the population.”
She added: “You need to give people the space to ask ignorant questions - the difference is not accepting the answers you are given.”
Ms Black said there are many bad actors in the debate on trans rights, and said some who are campaigning against gender reforms are preying on vulnerable people to strengthen their cause.
She said: “Folk don’t recognise the difference between being unfairly cancelled and being held accountable, those are two very different things.
“Criticising someone for what they said in public, in front of an audience, that’s criticism - that’s not anyone attacking you or denying you because you’re a lesbian or whatever. It’s nonsense.
“There are definite bad actors at play, radicalising people who are vulnerable, radicalising people who are too online, and using this small community as a wedge issue to create chaos.”
The MP added that while the debate is often portrayed as the trans community versus women, the two groups are actually fighting in the same battle against the patriarchy.
She said: “Some of the arguments I’ve seen by people who are gender critical, if you start picking away at it, are some of the most misogynistic arguments.
“Some of the worst abuse I’ve experienced is from women because they don’t see me as feminine enough and doing things a woman should do.
“People bang on about single sex spaces, but I’ve had more grief in women’s toilets in the past five years than I have had in my life, and it’s because I’m not as feminine as 50-year-old Karen expects me to be.
“That is not a good basis for progress.”
Finally Ms Black was also asked for how she felt after comments made by Kate Forbes on gay marriage.
Ms Forbes, the former education secretary, ran against Humza Yousaf to be first minister.
She was initially the bookies’ favourite, but saw her campaign fall apart after saying she would not have voted for gay marriage.
Ms Black is a lesbian who has been married to a woman since June last year.
At the time Ms Black accused Ms Forbes of “intolerance” over her opposition to same-sex marriage.
Speaking at her Fringe show she added: “It hurt, that’s why I didn’t immediately respond.
“I thought, ‘I need to think about what I’m saying, because I’m really feeling it in my soul’.
“Are we still up for debate?”
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