THE results of the SNP’s internal elections have reignited the row in the party over the Scottish Government’s proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA).

Yesterday's contest was a victory for those critical of the plans to make it simpler for trans people to receive a Gender Recognition Certificate.

Currently a trans person requires medical evidence and a two-year period of living as that gender before they’re eligible for the certificate, but if the Scottish Government legislation passes, they can obtain a certificate through self-declaration after six months.

The SNP’s Women’s Pledge group - who backed a number of candidates in the election - have said this has the potential to put women and girls will at increased risk of harm from predatory men who could take advantage of the lack of any checks to gain access to single-sex spaces like women’s toilets, hospital wards, refuges, hostels and prisons. That’s seen them accused of bigotry and transphobia. 

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“I am lost for words. We really have an uphill battle from today for the principle of equality in the SNP,” Cailyn McMahon, the convener of the Young Scots for Independence tweeted after the results came in.

In a Twitter thread this morning, the SNP MP for Aberdeen North, Kirsty Blackman, suggested the opposition to the gender recognition reforms had more to do with “empire building” in the SNP.

She said: “There’s a lot to be sad about this morning. But please be assured that there are still many, many good people fighting for fairness and inclusion. I and so many of my friends continue to be vocal trans allies no matter what is thrown at us.

“In 2014, in an attempt to convince people to vote No in the independence referendum so they could retain their stranglehold on power, Better Together activists told Eastern European immigrants that they would be deported if Scotland voted for independence.

“It was a lie attempting to whip up fear in order to retain their empire. I see little difference in what is being done at the expense of trans people.

“Using their voices to convince women they are more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted if the Government makes it easier for trans people to self identify. It is a lie, so that empire building can happen within the SNP.

“It's nothing actually to do with minority rights, or an attack on minority rights. It's a convenient issue and a convenient group of already excluded people who can be thrown under a bus in order for the massively successful SNP leadership to be undermined by a small group.

“Attacking an already under fire group is a horrendous, truly nasty thing to do. It is causing untold harm.”

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West Dunbarton councillor Caroline McAllister, who set up the Women’s Pledge group, won the contest to be the SNP’s women’s convener. 

She told The National that it was time for the party to come together.

“The membership have spoken and now it's time to find common ground and build unity from there. More unites us than divides us and as I said in my campaign I will work constructively across the party in our shared goal of independence. 

“I agree with Kirsty there are many good people fighting for fairness and inclusion. Many of my colleagues in the Women's Pledge group have a lifetime of fighting inequality and will take that experience into their new roles within the party.

“The rights of everyone must be respected and where there's a clash respectful dialogue must be employed to seek an acceptable solution for all. 

“No group should be disenfranchised in our pursuit of equality for all.”