Women of Scotland claim our rights

Campaign against Self ID kicks off at the Scottish Parliament

This morning hundreds of women gathered outside the Scottish Parliament to express their anger at plans to introduce Self ID as part Scottish Government’s reform of the Gender Recognition Act. Thanks to the indomitable sisters of @ForwomenScot for organising the event (do these sisters never sleep?).

Lisa Mackenzie of @mbmpolicy is on message

Here the speech I gave.


It is strange to be demonstrating in front of this building, one where I spent many years working.

Stranger still that a parliament that once prided itself as being one of the most women friendly in the world, is now being lobbied by the women of Scotland for being anything but.

I was lucky enough to attend the official opening of the Scottish Parliament on 1 July, 1999 – when Donald Dewar spoke so eloquently 

He said the day was about much more than our politics and our laws. 

It was about who we are, how we carry ourselves, and he added…

“In the quiet moments today, we might hear some echoes from the past…” 

Sisters, if we listen quietly we can hear the echoes of the defiant screams of 1,500 Scots women burned at the stake as witches

Listen carefully and we can hear the echoes of the Suffragettes who fought for our right to vote.

We can hear the echoes of the women in the trade union movement, in the feminist movement who fought and won us the right to equal pay, the right to choose, and for zero tolerance to violence against women and girls.

And we can hear the echoes of the women who campaigned for this Scottish Parliament, women like Johann Lamont who fought so hard to secure so many women as MSPs in that first parliament. 

Today we add our voices to those echoes from the distant and the recent past.

We support the right of all people to live their lives as they choose, so that they may flourish

I support the reform of GRA to make it simpler for trans people to change their legal sex.

But we cannot allow our parliament – the one so many of us fought for – to take away our fundamental rights as women.

Self ID means that our biological sex does not count. That only an essence, a feeling of femininity, matters.

Any man can, if he wishes, can become a woman simply by declaring himself female. 

Take away our sex – make women and girls a subset of men – which is the practical impact of Self ID and you take away our voice, our right to organise as women.

So we are gathered here today to claim our right as the women of Scotland to hold on to our identity. 

It will be a long, hard campaign. The numbers are against us. But the echoes of our sisters are with us as we enter this fight. Sisters, we will win.