Nicola Sturgeon responds to JK Rowling t-shirt calling her 'destroyer of women's rights' over trans bill

Nicola Sturgeon has responded to accusations by JK Rowling that she is a “destroyer of women’s rights”.

The Harry Potter author posted a photograph of herself on Twitter on Thursday (October 6) as a protest was held outside Holyrood against the Scottish Government’s planned reforms to gender legislation.

In the photo, Rowling is wearing a t-shirt calling Nicola Sturgeon a “destroyer of women’s rights”. She wrote: “I stand in solidarity with @ForWomenScot and all women protesting and speaking outside the Scottish parliament. #NoToSelfID.”

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Asked about it on Radio 4’s Today programme, the First Minister said she is a “passionate feminist” who has spent her life campaigning for women’s rights.

Nicola Sturgeon has responded to claims by JK Rowling that she is a 'destroyer of women's rights' (PA/ JK Rowling Twitter)

She said: “I respect people’s views on this, people are entitled to express their views however they wish.

"The gender recognition bill, which comes before the Scottish Parliament in a couple of weeks’ time, is about reforming an existing process. It doesn’t give any more rights to trans people and it doesn’t take any rights away from women.”

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Presenter Mishal Husain then said “any man in this room” could live as a woman for three months and be recognised by the state as a woman – go into a woman's refuge, use a woman’s changing room, or go into a women’s prison.

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Women's rally outside of Holyrood (Scottish Parliament) organised by For Women Scotland (Photo: Lisa Ferguson)

To which Ms Sturgeon replied: “Firstly, men are the risk to women. Not trans women. Any man who seeks to abuse any process to attack women, we should deal with that. We shouldn’t stigmatise further an already stigmatised group of people.

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"But secondly in terms of the bill, which the Scottish Parliament will scrutinise, this is a statutory process. There are criminal implications for anybody who abuses that.

"It’s not a process without significant conditions attached to it. Right now trans women are able to use refuges. The prison issue, very, very tiny numbers of people.”

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The First Minister continued: “The current process is stigmatising, it’s traumatic, it’s asking people to effectively prove that they are mentally unwell. So a trans person who wants to change their gender, the process in that bill is one that’s less traumatic and less stigmatising.”

What reforms are being proposed to the Gender Recognition Act in Scotland?

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The Scottish Government is proposing to “simplify” the process for trans people to get a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), which allows people to be legally recognised in their acquired gender and given a new birth certificate.

Among the changes, the minimum age of applicants will be lowered from 18 to 16, and applicants will no longer be required to submit a medical diagnosis to a tribunal.

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Instead, they will need to make a statutory declaration they have lived in the acquired gender for at least three months, and plan to live in their gender permanently.

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