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Devil is in the detail of responses to survey on gender reforms

The recent headlines claiming a Savanta ComRes poll of 2038 people showing a

clear majority of Scots backing gender reform proposals need some clarification.

            Responses to Question 1 showed people do not all understand transgender as meaning the same thing. 51% thought it was gender expression, 22% thought it was hormones plus full gender reassignment surgery and a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC); 9% a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and 5% thought it was just a GRC.

            If people have differing ideas of what transgender is, how much we can read into their answers?  Only 31% of respondents have been closely following the recent gender reform debates.  They will likely be the ones who realise the full implications of proposed reforms.  The remaining 67% may not be aware. 


            Roughly 35% thought males and females should be able to access single sex spaces relating to the opposite sex, but only if people had legally changed sex and had gender reassignment surgery.  Only 28% thought there was no need for surgery to access single sex spaces.

            Self-identification as a different gender was equally supported and opposed (40% supported, 38% opposed), with 35% supporting self ID as non-binary.  But 61% thought single sex spaces should be retained, with only 10% disagreeing.  Did the respondents realise that supporting self-identification would compromise those spaces without safeguarding, which is conspicuously omitted from the proposed legislation? 

            38% agreed transwomen should be able to use women’s public toilets and communal spaces, and 40% that transmen should access men’s spaces; 36% that transmen should be allowed in men’s amateur sport, 34% transwomen in women’s amateur sport.  But for elite or professional sport, only 27% agreed for transmen and 23% for transwomen.  About a third favoured both transwomen being housed in women’s prisons and transmen being housed in men’s prisons. Just over half (53%) thought transmen should have access to men’s domestic abuse services, and transwomen to female services.

Children and under 16s

            People were much more able to see dangers to children and under 16s.

Only 10% of respondents strongly favoured trans schoolpupils using toilets and sharing communal sleeping spaces according to their chosen gender; 40% were opposed, the same proportion as opposed under 16s accessing hormone blockers, while 47% opposed under 18s accessing surgery, and 49% opposed under 16s getting cross sex hormones.


            The figures give a mixed picture, not as clear cut as the headlines suggest.  The clearest percentage was the 61% who strongly wish to retain single sex spaces in everything from bathrooms to all-women shortlists and reserved jobs.  Opposition was also strong when children and young people’s safety was at stake.

            But the safety and fairness implications of the proposals were apparently not pointed out to respondents, nor that there is NO safeguarding in the proposed legislation for safety, for decency for religious women and girls compromised by males in single-sex spaces, nor for fairness and equality in things like sports, refuges, prisons, all-women shortlists and jobs which should be reserved for biological females.

If respondents had been aware of these issues, their answers may have been different.

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