Stephen Kerr has said that he has concerns around the issue of self-identification of gender.
Speaking at a Q&A event hosted by the Conservative society at the university last month, the Stirling MP said: “I have concerns about self-identifying gender”, making particular reference to the implications that this would have for ‘safe spaces’.
This means that he has issues over one being able to identify as whichever gender they choose.
The term ‘safe spaces’ most commonly refers to bathrooms which are assigned to only one gender, but concerns have also been raised in the wider debate over the impact gender self-identification could have on gendered hospital wards.
A motion to increase the number of gender neutral bathrooms on campus was supported by an overwhelming majority at a Union General Meeting in November.
Mr Kerr said: “There are a number of concerns , reasonably held, that have been expressed to me by constituents regarding the potential for locations regarded as ‘safe spaces’ to be compromised.”
He also said that it is important to “ensure an appropriate balance is struck that protects the rights of all groups”.
LGBTQ+ society’s gender identity rep Eli Graham has raised his concerns over the comments made by the MP.
He said: “The right to identify and self-declare is not infringing upon the rights of any existing groups, but giving more rights to the trans community.”
Last year, a Scottish government consultation involving 15,000 people showed that almost two thirds of people surveyed supported the government’s plan to allow people to change gender by self-declaration, which would be open to those aged sixteen and above.
When Kerr was asked if he would also be in support of this, a spokesperson replied: “Stephen feels that there would need to be a comprehensive consultation process before something as significant as this could be agreed.”
He also highlighted that Kerr is keen to hear people’s views and experiences, and urges anyone with concerns to contact his office.
Graham was disheartened to hear this reply. He said: “We face enough shit, and to hear our MP wouldn’t support the trans community is a massive blow. We face huge struggles in trying to transition, both socially and medically.”
And as a highly elected official for Stirling, Graham believes that Kerr should be the person starting the dialogues. He said: “Talk is cheap. It would be one thing to sit down with the society, but it’s another thing to vote in a certain way to benefit these people.”
In 2017, a survey revealed that almost half of young transgender people in the United Kingdom had attempted suicide. Many believe that the right to self-identify would lower this shocking statistic.
Graham said: “A system of identification is needed to stop people dying. I’ve lost friends while they waited for treatment.”
Graham is a strong advocate for transgender rights. As well as being elected vice president for the LGBTQ+ society for 2019/20, he also sits as the LGBT equalities officer for the Student’s Union.
He is hopeful that change is not far around the corner: “We’re all human. What’s the point in kicking someone out of a toilet because they don’t look like they belong there? There are much bigger issues facing us all.”
Feature image credit: http://www.stephenkerr.org