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Anti-trans writer Meghan Murphy invited to speak at Scots parliament

Reiss Smith May 3, 2019
Meghan Murphy smiling

Meghan Murphy will speak at the Scottish Parliament. (Wikicommons)

Scottish National Party MSP Joan McAlpine has come under fire for inviting Canadian anti-trans journalist Meghan Murphy to the Scottish Parliament.

McAlpine has invited Murphy, a vocal opponent of trans rights, to speak about “women’s rights and the transgender debate” on May 22.

The MSP said that she is “delighted” that Murphy “is coming to discuss the Canadian experience of allowing males to self-identify as women and access single sex spaces and services.”

In an email sent to 5News’ Alan Jenkins, she added: “Meghan is a socialist and feminist who is admired around the world for her bravery in speaking up for women. Parliament is a place which values freedom of speech.”

“Parliament is a place which values freedom of speech.”

—Joan McAlpine

Rhiannon Spear, an SNP councillor for Greater Pollok, criticised the move on Twitter, writing: “Inviting Meghan Murphy to our Parliament is stoking a fire.

“If you want to have a civil conversation about trans identities this is NOT how you go about it.”

Sophie Bridger, campaigns, policy and research manager for Stonewall Scotland, told PinkNews: “Trans people are facing high levels of abuse and discrimination so it’s crucial that public discussions about trans equality are respectful and informed.”

The Scottish Parliament confirmed to PinkNews that it had no part in organising the event. A spokesperson said: “This is a matter for the member.”

Meghan Murphy banned from Twitter for ‘hateful conduct’

Murphy is the founder of FeministCurrent, which styles itself as “Canada’s leading feminist website.”

She regularly misgenders trans women in her writing, and was banned from Twitter in November for violating its policy against “hateful conduct.”

Murphy announced that she is suing the social network in February, claiming that her ban amounts to a censure of her politics.

Twitter replied with papers filed in April which read: “This is not a case of Twitter discriminating against her ‘political viewpoint,’ this case is about harassment targeted at specific individuals on the Twitter platform on the basis of their gender identity.”

Joan McAlpine blocked non-binary census option

McAlpine, herself a former journalist, has also recently been embroiled in a row over LGBT+ rights.

The MSP chairs Holyrood’s culture committee, which earlier this year was charged with scrutinising a new census before it reaches parliament.

Members of the committee had suggested that the census should record “biological sex” instead of “lived sex,” a recommendation which did not appear in the committee’s report.

It had also been suggested by the LGBT+ group Equality Network that a non-binary gender option should be added to the census for 2021. This was rejected by the committee “in order to maximise response rates and consistency with previous censuses.”

“People who identify as transgender or non-binary will still have the option of a separate question on their identity, which the Committee agreed should be voluntary,” McAlpine said in a February 7 statement.

Joan McAlpine smiling
Joan McAlpine MSP attends the Scottish National Party spring conference on April 12, 2014. (Getty)

The MSP added that the wording of the proposed census legislation had “created confusion and a perception that the bill conflates issues around sex and gender identity.”

“There has been a serious lack of consultation with a range of women’s groups, which has led to legislation being published which is not fit for purpose,” she said.

Revisiting the topic, McAlpine tweeted on February 28: “Recording birth sex is important to monitor sex discrimination and the Equality Act 2010. Women experience discrimination on the basis of biology, not how they identify (although trans people experience discrimination too, it is of a different type).

“How can we defend the Equality Act, which clearly gives women protections based on biological sex, if we have said this definition of sex is irrelevant to our largest data gathering exercise?

“Sex exemptions in the Equality Act are vital for privacy and dignity in shared spaces also ‘occupation exemptions’ for jobs supporting vulnerable females. This matters as more men self ID as women while retaining male bodies and male genitals.”

“This matters as more men self ID as women while retaining male bodies and male genitals.”

—Joan McAlpine

Gregor Murray, Scotland’s only transgender councillor, told McAlpine that she “lacks the necessary brain cells” to serve as an MSP following the committee’s verdict. McAlpine has since launched an internal grievance.

In February, McAlpine was one of 15 SNP politicians to sign a letter opposing plans to “streamline” the legal transition process.

Scotland is seen as more progressive than the rest of the UK when it comes to LGBT+ rights. In November it announced that it would become the first nation in the world to introduce mandatory LGBT-inclusive education, some four months before Westminster voted to introduce a similar curriculum across the rest of the UK.

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