Trans rights activists to protest at Holyrood

MSPs have been asked to boycott a talk by a Canadian feminist who has been branded "transphobic" and instead join a protest to be held outside the Scottish Parliament this evening.

Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 4:39 pm
Canadian feminist Meghan Murphy is addressing MSPs in the Scottish Parliament this evening.

Organisation Sisters Uncut Edinburgh, which describes itself as a collective "that takes direct action for domestic violence services" has said it will hold a protest and rally outside Holyrood when Meghan Murphy is due to address MSPs and other guests.

Ms Murphy, a journalist and founder of the blog Feminist Current, was invited to speak in Parliament by SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, and has previously said she expected protests as "it happens whenever I speak anywhere".

She has been labelled "transphobic" for questioning whether "male-bodied transgender women" should have access to women-only spaces, such as prisons, shelters and changing rooms. She was also permanently banned from the social media platform Twitter after she tweeted “yes it’s him” in reference to a trans woman, who at the time was going by the name Jonathan and who was suing female Canadian beauticians for refusing to give him a Brazilian wax. She is now suing Twitter.

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But Sisters Uncut Edinburgh have lobbied MSPs to boycott Ms Murphy's talk and sent a "dossier" which it claims "provides key insights into her attitudes and actions about and towards trans and non-binary people - bigotry we feel has no place in the Scottish Parliament."

On its Facebook page it says: "Meghan has made a career out of hostility to trans people - especially trans women - and sex workers. In February of this year she was banned from Twitter for breaches of its Hateful Conduct Policy.

“As a collective we work to support the rights of all women (trans and cis), not just the women that Joan McAlpine and Meghan Murphy deem acceptable. All parties in the Scottish Parliament stood on a platform of trans rights and equality, not the kind of prejudice and deliberate misunderstanding being promoted at this event. We would urge all MSPs to step outside the building and listen to the people really impacted by this debate rather than endorsing bigotry.”

A statement to The Scotsman from the group said that it was still receiving responses from MSPs, but that "given all parties stood on a platform of trans rights and equality we would hope to see at least one from each party."

It added: "Our protest is designed to platform voices that are not getting heard in Parliament and call out the bigotry of Meghan Murphy's ideology. We want to share our Lessons for Scotland both as an an educational tool for those less well informed and also as an exercise of solidarity with the trans, non-binary and sex worker communities in Scotland."

Ms McAlpine has said she invited Ms Murphy because she "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 and I am delighted that Meghan is coming to discuss the Canadian experience of allowing males to self-identify as women and access single sex spaces and services.”

In an exclusive interview with the Scotland on Sunday, Ms Murphy said she was grateful to have been invited to the Parliament. “I’m very much looking forward to meeting her and other women in Scotland fighting this issue.

"I’m assuming that there’ll be protests as there are everywhere I go.If any of them actually came into the events there’s no way they could accuse me of saying anything hateful. But of course they never come in. They don’t engage.”