Top civil servant’s tweet leads to accusations of pro‑trans bias The Times 06.02.19

The original article is here.

Scotland’s top civil servant has urged “privileged” non-transgender people to recognise how easily they can access things such as washrooms and healthcare.

Leslie Evans, the permanent secretary, tweeted a poster telling those who identify as the gender into which they were born — known as “cisgender” — to appreciate the personal “entitlements” they receive.

“Understand your privilege,” the poster read. “Recognise the ways that being cisgender allows you to access washrooms, health care, or transcripts with ease. Think about the entitlements you take for granted which others must fight.”

Ms Evans posted the tweet last November following Transgender Awareness Week and a photograph of herself at a Scottish parliament event with representatives from Scottish Trans Alliance (STA), which has been part-funded by the Scottish government since 2007. A volunteer from Mermaids, a charity which campaigns for children to be allowed sex-change hormones, is also thought to be in the picture.

A Scottish government spokesman said it uses the term “cisgender” to avoid discrimination and instead of “pejorative” terms such as “biological woman/man”.

Ms Evans’s actions have caused concern that the senior public official was openly displaying bias and fuels claims that the trans lobby could have undue influence over government policies.

Only weeks ago, Alex Salmond, the former first minister, repeatedly called for Ms Evans to resign after a court ruled that the Scottish government’s handling of sexual misconduct complaints against him were unlawful.

Ms Evans sits in Scottish cabinet meetings and is in charge of more than 5,000 civil servants.

Feminist activists insist the Scottish government risks sleepwalking towards a significant erosion of women’s rights with proposed changes to transgender legislation through the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). Under new proposals, people will be able to self-identify as the gender they feel they are without a medical diagnosis.

A spokeswoman for ForWomen.Scot, a feminist campaign group, said: “The proposed change to the GRA is controversial and complex. That a senior civil servant should display such open bias is extremely troubling.

“This leads us to wonder whether government policy is being developed by our elected representatives or dictated by lobby groups and the civil service. The Scottish government now needs to work hard and consult with women’s organisations to restore trust in systems of government.”

A report by Women and Girls in Scotland, a group which campaigns for sex-based rights, has argued that transgender guidelines for schools undermine ten articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Cosla, the umbrella group for councils, has recently been found to be instructing officials to replace “sex” with “gender” in formal documents and correspondence, although gender is not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

Mhoraig Green, policy manager at Cosla, said in a message circulated to all Scottish local authorities last July that this was informed by the Scottish government’s position which “confirmed that they speak about gender rather than sex and are moving towards a non-binary definition”.

Susan Sinclair, of Scottish Women, said: “It’s very concerning that the trans lobby groups have had so much influence and involvement across many sectors in Scotland, especially at the highest level of government.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “Equality and inclusion are at the heart of our ambition to be a world-leading, diverse employer where people can be themselves at work. We are firmly committed to continuing to build an inclusive workplace where people feel valued and respected for who they are.”