Women’s group announces plan for Motherwell meeting to oppose Gender Reform Bill

A women’s group has announced its plan to hold a meeting in Motherwell as it continues to protest against the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

Women Voting With Our Feet members state they are a campaign group for the rights of women and girls in Scotland.

The group has organised a public meeting at the Bentley Hotel in Motherwell with expert speakers on child safeguarding and development to discuss the Scottish Government’s proposed gender recognition reform and its potential effects on children and young people.

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Speaking will be Maggie Mellon, a social worker with many years’ experience in Scotland and England, and Dr Shereen Benjamin, a senior lecturer in primary education at the University of Edinburgh.

The audience will then participate in a Q&A session with Maggie and Shereen.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “Women Voting With Our Feet, also known as Sole Sisters, and other groups have been holding art demonstrations and street stalls across Scotland for the last year to raise awareness of gender reform and what we consider its negative impacts on women and girls.

“The main response coming from many members of the public is that they either don’t know enough about the issue or they know nothing about it.

“As much of the focus has been on adults in this debate, we thought it important to discuss the potential impact of this change of law on children and young people.

Trans rights campaigners at a Pride Glasgow march
Trans rights campaigners at a Pride Glasgow march

“Our speakers both have a vast amount of experience in the areas of safeguarding, child protection and education, and are looking forward to engaging with the public on this issue.

“We chose Motherwell because it’s central and because there are now several large and thriving women’s groups in operation in the Lanarkshire area.

“If there is a good public response and turnout on the night, we will look to hold similar meetings in other parts of Scotland.”

The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill would amend the Gender Recognition Act 2004 of the UK Parliament making it easier for people to legally change their gender.

The proposed bill would lower the age people can legally change gender from 18 to 16 and would not require a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

Ministers say the current process takes too long and is too invasive, causing distress to a vulnerable minority.

However, campaigners have raised concerns about the changes potentially having an impact on women’s rights.

Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison insisted the plans would not create new rights or change those women have now.

And with four out of the five parties at Holyrood backing reform in their election manifestos last year, the changes are likely to be approved by parliament in some form.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has urged the government to pause the reforms for more detailed consideration, saying the current GRC system “provides the correct balanced legal framework that protects everyone”.

But Ms Robison told MSPs that “trans people in Scotland risk inequality, harassment and abuse simply for living their lives – they are amongst the most marginalised in our society”.

And she stressed that the new bill “does not introduce new rights or remove rights”, or change public policy on single-sex services or access to toilets and changing rooms.

She added: “We are not introducing new rights for trans people, and importantly we are not removing or changing any for women and girls.”

The meeting will take place in the Bentley Hotel, Motherwell, on Wednesday, March 30, from 7pm until 9pm.

Admission is free but entry is by ticket only, available online.

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