IN 2016, a muckle majority (69 per cent) o Bermudians votit in a referendum tae rejeck same-sex mairriage. Sixty-three per cent votit agin same-sex civil unions forby. Yet less nor a year later, in 2017, the richt o same-sex couples tae mairry wis legalised by wey o a Supreme Court rulin, which fund that a gay couple had been discriminatit agin whan thair mairriage application wis rejectit. Equal richts campaigners on the socially conservative island eruptit in muckle celebration, same-sex couples began tae wed richt awa, an progressives across the warld walcomed this latest step taewart equality.

Except lest month, the majority o Bermuda’s electit representatives brocht in the Domestic Pairtnerships Act, which repealed same-sex mairriage – makkin Bermuda aiblins the anely kintra e’er tae hae introduced equal mairriage an syne repealed it. Grantit, the Act hauf-hertitly allooed fur civil union atween same-sex couples, but neither politicians or public really agree wi thon either. An the story’s nae feenisht yet, wi a legal challenge tae the repeal awready unnerwey.

Gay richts activists in Bermuda micht weel be winnin battles, but at the expense o the war.

Contrast this wi Scotland. By the time that equal mairriage gaed intae law in 2014, it had the owerwhelmin support o the individuals electit tae oor national pairlament, wi a muckle majority o MSPs fae aw pairties votin in favour. Mair important, thair decision had the strang backin o the public forby. In 2002, jist 41 per cent o the Scottish population thocht that same-sex couples should hae the richt tae mairry. This nummer had been heized tae 61 per cent by 2010 an had reached 68 per cent by 2014. Efter years o sometimes scunnerin debate, the public had been won ower, attitudes had been chynged, a muckle cultural shift had taen place – the time wis richt. Acause o this, an despite some fowk’s fears (or aiblins wishes), there his been nae muckle backlash an the prospeck o it bein owerturnit is gey slim.

The lesson tae be learnt here is that progress cannae be taen fur grantit. That fur ony new richts tae be mensefu an ayebidin, they maun be unnerstuid an acceptit by the majority o fowk – no jist gien doon by high heid yins, hooivver weel meanin they micht be.

This is warth reflectin on as the stushie aroon proposit chynges tae the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) rummles on. Fur gin fowk had trouble gettin thair heids aroon twa men or twa wimmen bein in love an wantin tae get mairrit, it seems like the maist strucht-forrit thing in the warld compared wi further rescrievin the verra definition o whit maist fowk unnerstaun by the wirds “man” an “wumman”.

In 2004, the GRA gied trans fowk the richt tae legal recognition on thair birth certificate as whitivver sex correspondit wi their sel-identified gender. Fur tae gain this richt, hooivver, trans fowk maun hae lived in thair acquirit gender fur at least twa year. Forby they maun prove through twa medical reports that they hae gender dysmorphia. Whilst it isnae necessar fur a bodie tae transition tae the sex o thair acquirit gender, gin they dinnae hae onie plans tae dae sae, then ane o the medical reports maun explain hou.

The proposal is noo tae remove aw thaim barriers tae legal recognition. Aw that would be requirit fur a bodie tae be legally regairdit as male or female is sel-declaration – severin the awready gey thin link atween identity and biology retainit in the 2004 Act.

These chynges would tak us ae step further taewart a society whaur a bodie’s subjective gender identity is the norm, an whaur unnerstaunins o “man” an “wumman”, “male” an “female”, based on biological sex, are consignit tae history – at least in legislation. Speir yer average Scot anent the meanin o “man” or “wumman” an yer still mair likely tae get a lesson in Staunnart Grade biology nor a lecture aboot gender identity.

Public debate on the topic his been near non-existent. Shona Craven is tae be creditit fur gaun whaur ithers are feart tae tread in tacklin the GRA debate in the pages o this paper, but the cries o “transphobia” in repone tae her scrievins mak clear whit wey ithers dinnae want tae gang near it.

The airgument we hear fae campaigners fur GRA reform is that it’s jist aboot makkin life easier fur trans fowk, whae face scunnerin discrimination in thair day-tae-day lifes. Whae would want tae airgue wi that? Maist fowk dinnae want tae mak life difficult fur ithers or see them persecutit or discriminatit agin. We’re also telt that GRA reform would bring Scotland intae line wi “international best practice”. But the fack that a haunfu o ither kintras are daein it isnae the same as unnerstaunin whit they’re daein it fur or whit wey Scotland should follae suit.

Whit nane o these airguments dis is address the reality that there’s still a muckle lack o unnerstaunin or acceptance o gender as a sel-staunin thing, entirely apairt fae sex.

Patrick Harvie wis richt whan he scrievit that “this is a subjeck that challenges assumptions an ideas aboot oorsels which are gey deep in oor culture”.

But hou can oor culture e’en stert tae unnerstaun this new orthodoxy on sex an gender whan tae speir questions is tantamoont tae challengin the dignity an validity o trans fowk themsels? Whit progressive-mindit person wants tae be a “transphobe”? Whit politician wants tae keek thair heid ower the parapet anely tae fun thairsels on the “wrang side o history”?

In aw likelihood, the GRA reforms will pass intae law. A victory will be threapit fur the richts o trans fowk. Oor status as a progressive nation will be celebratit. But gin the airgument fur turnin oor traditional unnerstaunin o sex an gender on its heid hisnae been unnerstuid, let alane won, whit kin o progress will that really be?