SNP MP Mhairi Black has said that transgender people face “appalling levels of prejudice and discrimination” ahead of a powerful speech delivered to parliament today.
Black made her comments before a debate to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in parliament today (May 16). During her speech, she said she wanted to address some of the concerns and questions that are commonly fielded about transgender people’s rights.
“We hear concerns like, ‘Well what if for example an abusive male partner comes up to a refuge centre and starts self-identifying as a woman?’ Well, the reality is they would be treated exactly the same way as an abusive lesbian partner turning up to a refuge,” Black said.
“These things have already have answers to them,” she continued.
Mhairi Black says debate must move away from view that trans women are ‘a threat’
“People have a right to express legitimate concerns and questions. But what I’m saying just now is either we’re witnessing an open attack on rights that are already established in law, or we’re seeing a worrying level of ignorance.
“The only people responsible for abuse are abusers. We understand that men perpetrate more abuse against women, and we have to understand this trend if we want to challenge it. But that does not legitimise framing discussions on trans rights from the viewpoint that trans women are a threat.”
Furthermore, Black said that it is the job of MPs to “bring people with us” on the journey to greater acceptance and rights for transgender people.
Elsewhere in the speech, Black ran through some of the obstacles facing transgender people under the terms of the Gender Recognition Act. She criticised the costs transgender people face in obtaining legal recognition.
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“We’re witnessing an open attack on rights that are already established in law, or we’re seeing a worrying level of ignorance.”
– Mhairi Black
“We live in a highly gendered and patriarchal world, and what I find that many are failing to grasp is that it’s also an incredibly heterosexual and binary world and this goes hand in hand with the patriarchy.
“It’s quite telling that there seems to be little concern, or certainly little vocal concern, for trans men and the situations that they might find themselves in.
“People are right to express legitimate questions and concerns, but if they dig deep enough, I think they’ll find that the answers are already there.”
Black is a vocal supporter of transgender rights
Black has made a name for herself within the SNP as a vocal supporter of transgender rights.
Just weeks ago, she attended the SNP conference wearing a t-shirt with a trans inclusive slogan emblazoned on the front.
Earlier this year, she hit out at a stream of negative stories in the British press targeting transgender people.
Black wrote: “Unsurprisingly, right-wing newspapers have responded with the same sort of hysteria, discriminatory attitudes, and ludicrous claims that they previously targeted at gay people in the 1980s, 90s, and more recently during the debate over same-sex marriage.
“Those newspapers need to take a long hard look at themselves – they are part of the problem.