Nicola Sturgeon shuts down anti-trans misinformation after JK Rowling backs gender law protest

A photo of Nicola Sturgeon on a purple background alongside a photo of JK Rowling wearing a t-shirt that reads: "Nicola Sturgeon: destroyer of women's rights"

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon responded to a BBC presenter who tried to paint trans women as dangerous: “Men are the risk to women, not trans women.”

Sturgeon was asked by BBC Radio 4’s Today Show presenter Mishal Husain about a protest outside Holyrood on Thursday (6 October) against Gender Recognition Act (GRA) reform in Scotland.

Husain referred to a tweet by JK Rowling in support of the protest, organised by anti-trans lobby group For Women Scotland, in which she wore a t-shirt that read: “Nicola Sturgeon: destroyer of women’s rights.”

The presenter asked: “Are you a destroyer of women’s rights?”

“No,” said Sturgeon.

“I’ve spent my entire life campaigning for women’s rights and I’m a passionate feminist with lots of evidence behind that… The gender recognition bill which comes before the Scottish parliament in a couple of weeks time is about reforming an existing process.

“It doesn’t give any more rights to trans people, and it doesn’t take any more rights away from women.”

GRA reform would simplify and demedicalise the process by which transgender people can change the gender marker recorded on their birth certificate, a right that trans people already have.

It will dignify legal processes like marriage, or the recording of deaths, but will not affect the rights of trans people in their day to day lives, or spaces they have access to. Access by trans people to the correct single-sex spaces like toilets and changing rooms is already protected under the Equality Act.

But Husain, in a factually incorrect tirade, said: “It would make it easier for people to be legally recognised as their preferred gender, and what that would mean is anyone who’s aged 16 or over who’s lived in their acquired gender for at least three months would be eligible to apply.

“No medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria would be required. Any man in this room could live as a woman for three months and be recognised by the state as a woman, use a women’s refuge, use a women’s changing room, go into a women’s prison. How is that right?”

Sturgeon said: “Well, firstly, men are the risk to women, not trans women.”

Sturgeon continued: “Any man who seeks to abuse any process to attack women, we should deal with that. We shouldn’t stigmatise further an already stigmatised group of people.”

But Husain continued with the same line of fear-mongering questioning, and Sturgeon responded: “Right now, trans women are able to use refuges… You’re making sweeping assertions that are not the case.”

“The current process [of gender recognition] is stigmatising, it’s traumatic,” she added.

“It’s asking people to effectively prove that they’re mentally unwell. So a trans person who wants to [legally] change their gender, the process that’s set out in that bill is one that is less traumatic, and less stigmatising.

“If anyone seeks to misuse that process, tries to defraud it and wants to do that because they in some way want to abuse women, that would be a criminal offence that they would be committing.

“This is about changing an existing process. It doesn’t give trans people any more rights.”