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Scottish parliament apologises to trans woman searched by male guard

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  1. Pumpkin Pie 12 Jan 2010, 5:27pm

    Whoops, guess she must have forgotten her trans ID card, or special government permission slip allowing her to live as a woman. Maybe she needed to bring her GP?

    This would be pretty shameful if it was any old security, but this was an LGBT event at Scottish parliamentary building. The fact that they were not already trained to deal with something like this (e.g. “transwomen are to be treated as women, lesson over”) is just plain bizarre.

  2. Had it been a non-LGBT event I reckon that it would have gone like this: Attempt to pat-down with men – assertion that she is female – embarressment, guards assuming she’s just “masculine” – pat-down done by women.

    I can’t help but feel it was the specification that it was a LGBT event that set of the guard’s “tranny alarm”.

    Sensitivity training fail…

  3. LGBT Youth say “the parliament have been very understanding” presumably meaning staff at the parliament (how can a parliament be understanding??) and yet the parliament’s spokesperson says no one felt they had done anything wrong and refers to the woman as “he”. If this is “understanding” they can keep it!!

  4. Jennifer Hynes 12 Jan 2010, 8:28pm

    @Jasper: You may well be right about that. I am assuming she was wearing women’s clothes, ergo she wanted to be treated as a woman. Simple really. I’m guessing they were using the LGBT meeting as cover for an excuse to air their disapproval. It’s common enough to use these excuses.

  5. @Pumpkin Pie

    One does not need government permission to live as a woman or a man. And, although some trans people carry what is often called a “Get out of jail free card”, again there is no requirement to do so and many of us do not do so.

  6. theotherone 12 Jan 2010, 11:20pm

    I live round the corner from the Parliament and pass it almost every day and without fail I get security staff pointing and laughing.

    I wanted to go into the Parliament when I moved to Edinburgh but I realised I wouldn’t be welcome.

    As the the apology: we did nothing wrong and ‘he’ is a ‘man’ anyway. Literally hundreds of millions of my fvck1ng tax money went to build the fvck1ng place but it’s obviously no place for me.

    Perhaps I should make a complaint each day I pass and blog the results? What do you think?

  7. What worries me most, theotherone, is that the lgbt organisations are saying “the parliament” has admitted it’s staff got it wrong when is seems pretty clear there has been no such acknowledgement. But then these organisations are paid for by the Govt and the Parliament.

  8. Tim Hopkins 13 Jan 2010, 9:56am

    The Parliament’s management have apologised, and as I understand it have taken some steps (see below) to prevent this discrimination in future. The ‘Holyrood source’ quoted as saying they did nothing wrong is not a spokesperson for the Parliament, but is one of the other staff – presumably the same one who leaked the story to the press. Clearly there is a problem with some of the staffs’ attitudes, which is why LGBT Youth asked for transgender awareness training to be arranged, which I understand is going ahead.

    We will see if anything like this happens again, and we and our colleagues in other LGBT groups will certainly press for further action by management if it does.

    LGBT Youth Scotland, in my view, judged their response right on this one – complaining in clear terms to management and stressing the urgent need for staff training.

  9. I would like to point out its illegal to require a trans woman or trans man to produce a gender recognition certificate.

    A GRC is not a get out of jail free card in any way. Its just a device to enable you to get a amended birth certificate and that’s it.

    Just like London Pride in 08 we see problems with how security staff treat trans people at a LGBT event.

  10. Er, I believe Pumpkin Pie’s comment about ID was extremely sarcastic, not serious.

    Poor woman. It must have been bloody awful for her. I can only imagine the humiliation. The whole situation was obviously a mess, and the security staff clearly need training. Hopefully, the brouhaha will push them to get that sorted out.

  11. theotherone 13 Jan 2010, 12:24pm

    angelica: a little diversity training will change everything or so we’re led to believe.

    you tell a bigot they’re not a nice person and they, ofcorse, become a firm and committed believer in inclusion.

    As to the nature of the ‘source’ – as the Parliament have not put up an official spokesperson to apologisse for what they said then they obviously see no problem with it either.

  12. I wonder if we are missing some of the facts we should really need to make an appropriate judgement here.

    As I understand it, a transgendered person might be at any one of so many points along the spectrum that it could make the right response hard to arrive at. From the article I can’t tell if this was (a) a person in what might be male attire whose appearance was male but who classed themselves as female; or (b) a person in female attire who might be pre-operative or not want surgery; or (c) a post-surgery person in female attire who the security guards didn’t know how to respond to because of personal bigotry or poor staff training.

    If the person in question was male to female and hadn’t had surgery, it could be very offensive to a female security officer to have to perform a pat-down, for example. I’m not trying to make excuses for anyone here, I just feel on what’s been written that there are not enough facts to form an informed judgement of the situation.

    I absolutely respect the right of another person to seek the gender alignment which suits them physically or psychologically but the phrases in this report “The visitor was a man as far as the security staff could tell” and “female security guards refused to search her because they thought she was a man” leave me wondering about the circumstances. I don’t think a woman has to look like anything in particular but is there something we don’t know here ?

  13. theotherone 13 Jan 2010, 12:54pm

    david I’m not aware that when you get a ‘pat down’ you get someone touching your genitals.

  14. theotherone, surely the reason there are male and female security guards in these locations isn’t just for the person being patted down, it’s for the modesty of the guards as well ?

    My point here is that the article on Pink News seems to be missing enough details, there’s no explanation of why the security staff though this person was a man and I can see an alternative scenario where female security staff would sue an employer who forced them to pat down a person who was physically male; maybe I’ve had strange experiences but at airports overseas I’ve been patted down in ways that certainly didn’t avoid the groin, and with potential bombers hiding explosives in their underwear I can see one reason for that.

  15. theotherone 13 Jan 2010, 1:13pm

    I have breasts and a cvnt and pass the Parliament almost every day and, as a Transwoman, the staff see me as a Man.

    The same argument you’re using could be used when a Butch Lesbian walks into the Parliament: would she have to drop her jeans in public to prove her gender.

  16. theotherone 13 Jan 2010, 1:34pm

    indeed let me extend this argument…

    should I wear a dress when I walk past the Parliament? My appearance is entirely female but, as a Lesbian, I have no wish to dress like a heterosexual woman out to attract male attention. As a result my clothes could be construed as ‘masculine’ should I then be seen as a man?

  17. theotherone 13 Jan 2010, 1:47pm

    and thirdly: is a man with long hair then a Woman? What about a man with a bit of foundation? A little eye liner? Are they Women?

  18. I think David has a point. I, as a woman would definitly refuse to pat down a man. And, if, as David said, the entire appearance was masculine, what would be the alternative? The ladies refuse to pat her, she refuses to be patted doen by men, then, is she refused entry as a result? It is not a simple matter at all, and I it goes beyond masculine looking women or feminine men, because this kind of things do not generally happen to them I should know. Every one’s sensibilities (provided they are reasonable), should be respected.

  19. Tim Hopkins 13 Jan 2010, 11:37pm

    There’s some comment here based on speculation. Niki, I appreciate that neither you nor David has this information available to you, but “the entire appearance” as you put it (please remember that we’re talking about a person here, and a vulnerable young person at that) was not masculine.

    On the issue of whether masculine looking non-trans women, for example, encounter gender identity discrimination, I can certainly state that the Equality Network has had reported to us, for example, slight women with short hair facing gender identity based abuse (for example gratuitous comments like “Is it a boy?”). It is not just people who identify as trans who face gender identity discrimination.

    And of course all men are not the same shape; neither are all women, so the idea that it’s a huge problem for someone to pat down a woman who has some aspects of masculine body shape seems absurd to me.

    And as far as Holyrood goes, one has to wonder how effective the security guards would be against a terrorist threat (which is essentially what they’re there for) if they’re too squeamish to pat down a woman whose body might have “masculine” aspects, or a man whose body might be have “feminine” aspects, in shape!

  20. theotherone 14 Jan 2010, 12:29am

    Tim: in my experience they’d be to busy round the corner on the Royal mile (near the bloody ugly concrete door) having a fag and being phobic arseholes to notice someone carrying a classic shinny, black, round ‘Anarchist Bomb.’

    I find it interesting that YET AGAIN one’s rights as a Transperson are based on how good one looks. Well I wear Chanel make-up, suits from Crombie and ties from Aubin and Willis so I hope I fit the bill of a good looking Trannie oh wait – I’M WEARING A TIE! THAT’S NOT FEMININE.

    I wonder if the same people who comment here about this person’s suitability as a human being and reckon it to be based upon how ‘feminine’ they look do the same to all women?

    ‘I wouldn’t touch a Tranny! They’re disgusting!’ Idiots.

  21. Pumpkin Pie 14 Jan 2010, 1:54am


    Yeah, it was as Anon stated: I was just being sarcastic. I was mocking the officials because it seems to me that TS people are constantly facing all kinds of problems like this. In fact, my mentioning of a GP was a snide remark at the way TS people actually need a doctor’s “permission” in order for the government to legally acknowledge their gender.

  22. I have many transgender friends. I hear stories such as in this report every day. There is such ignorance in the community. Anyway, ladies and gentlemen , get out there and never let anyone, especially in bureaucracy, put you down!

  23. theotherone 14 Jan 2010, 11:50am

    pie: Don’t mention doctors, bloody doctors.

    The one I saw tried every ruse to stop me getting ‘treatment’ because I didn’t wear a skirt in her presence.

  24. This is not funny at all. But it seems we are over-reacting and taking sides. While I campaign for recognition and respect for all, I do not particulary think security made any eternal mistakes. Our society is becoming too mechanical today that we cant differentiate mistakes from discrimination from offence… Take it easy all.

    If people have a stereotypical idea of gender, does it not need our dissectiing to change it? Does it become offence? I am masculine and get told I do not look gay, should I take offence? Shouldn’t the person being searched have helped by indicating her position before taking offence? We are eschewing common sense and going for a society lived out of manuals: awareness training? diversity training? etc are all not working because we are not addressing issues by building human understanding rather than patting them down softly-softly.

    the security staff is not wrong according to the story, the trans-woman is not wrong either. The only problem is that the transwoman did not help issues to stop it. And the idea of same-gender search, GP, etc is in itself ridiculous if made compulsory. In hospitals I do get if I prefer to see a man or woman, and I always indicate its not an issue. Is good to ask but should not be compulsory. There has never been a search where my genital was touched or in which I felt mishandled. If for any reason, as a gay man, I would go for women search to keep away from temptation in a handsome attractive man touching me, etc.

    The apology by the parliament is enough. But next time, this person should say no to being search by a man cos since they cant see beyond his clothings, the mistakes will re-occur and security staff tension in getting this type of issue right may impede their effectiveness in doing the main job they are there for. They are not there to caress anyone.

  25. Oh, for hell’s sake, what I’ve said here is that the story as published doesn’t give us enough information to form a conclusion as to what happened. Some of you may know things not in the story, but try SHARING the information, not attacking people who are on your side. I don’t define ‘men’ or ‘women’ by appearance, or assume that anyone ‘has to’ dress a particular way. But there are people who identify as women who were born physically male, and who have not had surgery, maybe because they choose not to. I would not expect a female security guard to have to pat down that person, but I can see that the individual might object to a male guard performing a search.

    I’m more than willing to accept that the security staff at Hoyrood are persistently falling short of acceptable behaviour, and I hope everyone will file complaints with Paul Grice, the Clerk/CEO of the parliament organisation, Lynda Towers, the solicitor to the parliament and to their MSPs to demand that this changes.

    Thank you, Tim Hopkins, for noting and accepting that you have information about this situation which wasn’t in the article published here on Pink News; I’d just say that I’m appalled that in 2010, there’s still so much bullying of children, men and women who maybe are male but like to dress in a ‘feminine’ way, or do ‘feminine’ things; or may be women, but who like to wear ‘masculine’ clothes or do ‘masculine’ things. I don’t see why ‘girly’ boys and ‘tomboyish’ girls should be bullied for it, it appalls me. And once again, my comment here was that the article as published lacked enough information for anyone away from the situation to know what was going on.

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