‘Anti-trans’ leaflets reported as ‘hate crime’ to Police Scotland by Students’ Union

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Last week, various reports were made of materials allegedly targeting transgender students being left “in bowls of sanitary products and public spaces” across the University campus, prompting a search of all toilets.

In response to these reports, the Student Union has reported the matter as a hate crime to Police Scotland and approached the University to take action on the matter. They are working closely with the LGBTQ+ Society and LGBTQ+ Staff Network, who helped gather evidence to take to the police.

Speaking to Brig, LGBTQ+ society President Rory MacLellan has stated that no additional materials were found, however further reports have suggested someone is “actively targeting the student community.”

Brig has viewed the materials which contain references to women’s rights, the threat the writer considers transgender people to pose, and the Gender Recognition Act (GRA).

“The Union is taking internal and external action on this issue: we are taking it to the police as a hate crime, and we have approached the University to take action too. We are working closely with the LGBTQ+ Society and the LGBTQ+ Staff Network, and gathered evidence to take the action through the police to report this as a hate crime.”  

Stirling Student Union President, Nela Cadinanos Gonzalez
Image: Stirling Students’ Union

In a statement, MacLellan has thanked the society’s members and wider student community for reporting these “hate leaflets”.

He has made reference to proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act which have led to a fierce debate amongst various rights and political groups in Scotland.

“I would like to thank our members and others in our student community for reporting these despicable hate leaflets to the Society and the Union.”

“The content of these leaflets is full of bigoted lies rooted in their author’s prejudice.”

“Trans and nonbinary people do not represent a threat to women’s rights, and proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act only seek to make the process more humane in line with international standards.”

“I am continuing to work closely with the Union to ensure robust action is taken so that these incidents do not go unchallenged, and those responsible face the consequences of these egregious attacks on our student community.”

“I encourage everyone to report any further incidences of these bigoted leaflets to the Union.”

Stirling University LGBTQ+ President, Rory MacLellan

Reforms to the Gender Recognition Act [click here to expand the tab for more information]

The Gender Recognition Reform Bill is a proposed amendment to the Gender Recognition Act (2004) that would bring about a number of changes to make recognition and the acquiring of a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) easier and more accessible. The two main changes the consultation focused on were the following:

the requirement for applicants to live in their acquired gender for 3 months prior to submitting an application, and for a 3-month reflection period after application before legal gender recognition is granted.”

“the age at which an application for legal gender recognition can be made should be reduced from 18 to 16”

The Government consultation found views from respondents to be broadly split almost equally between those opposed and those in favour of the changes. 

Those in favour broadly saw the proposals as an improvement but some have disagreed with the proposed need for someone to live in their acquired gender for a period of time before being granted a GRC. The “considerable majority” of “Children and Young People’s Groups, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) and Trans Groups, Union or Political Parties, Local Authorities, Health and Social Care Partnerships (H&SCPs) or NHS respondents and Third Sector Support Organisations” responded positively to the proposed reforms. 

Those in opposition are found to have concerns on the “potential impact of the proposed changes on society in general, but on the safety and wellbeing of women and girls in particular.” The report found that opposition came from individuals and the “majority of the Women’s Groups and Religious or Belief Bodies”

The consultation ran from 17th December 2019 to 17th March 2020 with 17,058 responses of which 55% were residents in Scotland whilst 32% were resident elsewhere in the UK.

Source: Scottish Government, Gender Recognition Reform Bill consultation

A University statement has said it “strongly condemns transphobia” and that they are “liaising with the Students’ Union.”

The University has warned they “will not hesitate to take action against anyone found to be inciting hate, and incidents will be reported to Police Scotland, where appropriate” and that its priority is the “safety and wellbeing” of the community and students.

“The University recognises that this material is deeply offensive, demeaning and distressing to trans people and other members of our community.”

“We are liaising with the Students’ Union and understand that these incidents have been reported to Police Scotland.

“The University strongly condemns transphobia: it will not be tolerated in our community or on our campus. We will not hesitate to take action against anyone found to be inciting hate, and incidents will be reported to Police Scotland, where appropriate.

“Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our community, and students who are affected by discrimination of any kind can access help and guidance through Student Support Services.”

University spokesperson
Image: University of Stirling

The Union has stated that they will work with the LGBTQ+ staff network and society to share more resources whilst also urging more students to join the LGBT+ society.

As part of its response, the Union would also like to encourage students to make use of the LGBT+ Student Support Contacts Network (The Network), which provides tailored support to LGBT students.

VP for Communities, Alyson Mackay, has reminded students: “If you see someone putting these up we do not advise you to interact with them, instead, if you see a leaflet or otherwise bigoted material please take a picture, give it to a member of staff at the Union desk and email any pictures/statements to communities.union@stir.ac.uk.

Union President, Nela Cadinanos Gonzalez, has stressed that the University of Stirling is a “safe space for all LGBTQ+ people”, encouraging members of the Stirling community to “show your pride and be an active ally.”

The editorial decision has been made, after consultation with the Union, to omit direct quotes so as to not further any harm these materials have caused to the student community.

For anyone affected by this article support is available through a number of sources including the following: Stirling University LGBTQ+ and Student LGBTQ+ support page.

Featured Image Credit: Harry Williamson

Website | + posts

Journalism Studies undergraduate at the University of Stirling


  1. What did the leaflets say? F*ck transpeople? I bet they didn’t.

    Transactivists carried banners in Pride marches saying F*ck terfs. Is that hateful? Should the police have been involved? I bet the materials this article references, were nowhere near as offensive and threatening as the things transactivists say about women.

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