I have bought myself a suffragette scarf for Christmas, tartan woven with the colours green, white and purple. Unfortunately, it won’t arrive until mid-January, as the supplier has had an unprecedented demand of late.
Parading political statements is not something I’d normally do. Even though I agree with the message, I would shy away, for example, from wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Nicola Sturgeon, destroyer of women’s rights“, as J.K Rowling did recently.
Mercifully for women and girls, Rowling is qualm free when it comes to expressing her views on women’s rights.
The latest expression of her convictions – basically, that biological women and trans women are not the same – is to set up and fund a centre in Edinburgh for women who have been sexually assaulted.
Beira’s Place will be a refuge for females only, staffed by females, and not for trans-identifying males, who won’t be on the staff either.
This, incredibly, is controversial and Rowling has, inevitably, been the target of vile attacks by the worst elements of the trans activist movement.
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Water off a duck’s back. The author, now a feminist figurehead, has never been silenced by online abuse, death threats and the attempted trashing of her reputation.
Besides, she already has a trust that supports projects for female prisoners and for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, so she understands the urgent need for her new venture and knows where to recruit the necessary experts to run it.
Why Edinburgh? Well, it is Rowling’s home town. And at the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, women who have been raped by men could encounter men, self-styled as women.
Furthermore, the rape centre’s chief executive is a trans woman who last year suggested “bigoted” rape survivors should be re-educated about transgender rights as part of recovering from their trauma.
It was also in Edinburgh this week, in the once enlightened university, that women attending the premier of a film, Adult Human Female – about the defence of women’s rights – were barred by an angry, mostly masked, mob of trans zealots.
One, a self-identified trans woman, was particularly intimidating, tall with booming voice, shouting down and shutting out women as only a male bully could.
Edinburgh and Scotland are at the centre of the transgender debate, thanks to the Scottish Nationalist government’s decision to rush through gender recognition legislation that will put sex-based protections for women at risk.
Under the new law, to be voted on in the Scottish parliament next Wednesday, all a man needs to do to become a woman is to say he is one and he will be given a Gender Recognition Certificate.
He does not need to have surgery, take hormones or even receive a diagnosis from a doctor. Women fear the change in the law will make it easier for predatory men to access their safe spaces, including women’s only changing rooms and refuges.
But it is strange that Scotland is now the epicentre of trans-radicalism because Scots seem to be no more enamoured with the ideology than the rest of Britain.
A YouGov poll for the Times, published this week, found that two third of those questioned were opposed to the central tenets of Sturgeon’s gender reform policy.
Some 66 per cent of voters are opposed to the lowering of the age threshold in the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, from 18 to 16. According to the survey, this included 63 per cent of SNP voters, 67 per cent of Labour voters and 75 per cent of Liberal Democrats, yet all three parties are backing the bill at Holyrood.
The poll also found that 60 per cent of people were opposed to plans to remove the need for a doctor’s diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and 59 per cent were against shortening the time period applicants must live in their acquired gender, from two years to three months (six months for under-18s).
As there is clearly no deafening clamour in Scotland to cancel women’s sex-based rights, why is the political establishment, driven by the SNP, intent on imposing the trans activists’ agenda on the population?
Sturgeon’s obsession has created a climate in the country described by respected politicians – the SNP MP Joanna Cherry and Labour’s Malcolm Chisholm, responding on Twitter to the scenes at Edinburgh University on Wednesday – as “neo-fascist”.
Even those sympathetic to Sturgeon would probably agree she is tone deaf on this issue, refusing to accept, and respond to, women’s concerns over what Rowling calls “the most misogynistic period” in recent history.
Rowling’s women’s centre is needed, not for political reasons, but because biological sex is real, and natal women have different experiences and vulnerabilities to those who were born male.
In Sturgeon’s war on women in Scotland, Rowling has emerged, in a competitive field of outspoken women, as the doughtiest opponent, with the resources – moral and financial – to mount a winnable counter attack.
Political sisters may quake in Sturgeon’s wake, but Rowling will not quit: “I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it,” she wrote in a celebrated essay on sex and gender.
Go Jo, the vast majority are behind you.
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