SATURDAY marked the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to reflect on and mourn the lives of trans people around the world cut short by transphobic violence. This year has so far proven to be the deadliest for trans people on record, coming as it does amid a global period of increased hostility toward the LGBTQ+ community.

So it is with this backdrop in mind that I present an ultimatum to the SNP, as a writer and activist who wants to see our governing party standing by its well-rehearsed commitments on tackling transphobia: withdraw the whip from Joanna Cherry, or lose all credibility on LGBT issues. Or rather, lose what little remains.

Almost 300 days have come and gone since the First Minister made an impromptu appeal to SNP members leaving the party over inaction on transphobia, promising a zero-tolerance approach to change the perception that the party was no longer a safe place for the LGBTQ+ community.

Can that promise be considered fulfilled while one of the party’s MPs is not critical enough of conversion therapy for transgender people? Following backlash this past week, Cherry has denied that she holds a stance in support of the practice, after stating on Twitter: “We must not make it a criminal offence for therapists to try to help patients with gender dysphoria to feel comfortable in their birth sex”.

READ MORE: Mhairi Black: Why I stand against conversion therapy in all its guises

Those are Cherry’s words. There is no misrepresentation here.

Some might interpret this as an endorsement of the position not only that someone’s transgender identity is in some sense “curable”, but also that we must not criminalise therapists who seek to “help” to achieve that “cure”.

Therapists should never approach a patient with the intent of achieving a predetermined outcome, but rather to allow exploration of the possibility that they might be trans, and to affirm that inquiry into the self - not to ‘help’ press it down and suppress it.'

There is, in principle, no difference between saying this and saying “we must not make it a criminal offence for therapists to try to help patients with homosexual thoughts to feel comfortable with opposite-sex attraction”.

It doesn’t work. It has never worked. And it is torture.

The theory that transgender identity is curable is in opposition to a wall of therapists, health practitioners and counsellors who are unified in their opposition to any form of “therapy” that seeks to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity and who back a full ban on the practice.

No matter how it is dressed up, no matter what intellectual bunting or faux progressive confetti may be strewn across it, when you claw away at the shallow rhetoric you will find a very human cost to this line of thought; that trans people can be “helped” into no longer being trans.

Anti-gay organisations also frame their methods as being carried out with the intent of helping people, too, and many vulnerable people who seek out conversion therapy do so under extreme duress. By its nature, it is a coercive and manipulative process.

How did we get to this point, where an active sitting MP for Scotland’s governing party feels emboldened enough to stand against banning such a vile practice? There is no denying that within the gender-critical movement there exists a pipeline to increasingly extremist positions.

When I see any high-profile figure tweet something critical or unsettling about trans liberation, it is usually only a matter of time before their entire online persona becomes hyper-fixated on the issue, bending every national story or event to find fault or grow suspicion toward the transgender community.

One particularly disturbing example being when Observer columnist Catherine Bennett used the horrific murder of Sarah Everard at the hands of a police officer as a means to launch an attack on proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act.

Once down the rabbit hole, it becomes an all-consuming obsession. Look to Graham Linehan, who torpedoed his career after receiving mild criticism for writing an episode of the IT Crowd in which a woman being beaten unconscious after revealing that she is transgender is played off as a joke.

I DON’T think Cherry a few years ago would have ever thought that she would find herself arguing against a ban on conversion therapy for transgender people, but that is where we are now – and why it’s time the SNP finally takes action.

READ MORE: Joanna Cherry: This is why I have concerns around conversion therapy legislation

We’ve had many warm words over the past year from the party and the First Minister, but it would be hard to point to any serious advances. Yes, there is now a firmer commitment to reforming the Gender Recognition Act in Scotland, but that concession was ultimately wrangled by the Scottish Greens as part of the co-operation deal.

Likewise, the ongoing discussion around actually banning conversion therapy in Scotland seemed hitched on waiting to see what Westminster would do first – an unusual position for our pro-independence government.

So let this be a line in the sand. The SNP can be remembered as the party that took a meaningful stand at a difficult time – or the party that stood by and did nothing as an MP failed to do enough to stop conversion therapy, as it did when receiving substantial donations from Brian Souter even as he poured money into anti-LGBTQ+ campaigns, and when a number of its own parliamentarians voted against marriage equality in 2014.

Funnily enough, Souter, too, once claimed to be misrepresented as being homophobic – all while pledging a million pounds to the “Keep the Clause” campaign in 2000 that opposed the repeal of Section 28. Deeds, not words, must be the measure of someone.

Act now, or be damned.