GENDER-CRITICAL organisations have long claimed they have been excluded from the Scottish Government’s process of reforming the Gender Recognition Act, despite having the same access to the consultations and surveys as everyone else. And with the publication of the stage-one recommendations on the bill, they’ve just been given an abject lesson in “be careful what you wish for”.

In preparing evidence, Holyrood’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee (EHRCJC) met with a number of groups both in support of and opposed to moving toward a system of self-declaration, a process that will make obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate simpler and less dehumanising for transgender people in Scotland.

In support of the bill, the committee heard from the trans community, LGBTQ+ organisations, the National Union of Students Scotland, the Children’s Commissioner, the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Engender, Amnesty, Rape Crisis Scotland, JustRight Scotland, the Church of Scotland, the Humanist Society, the National Gender Identity Clinical Network and more. In opposition were the EHRC, For Women Scotland, policy analysis collective MurrayBlackburnMackenzie, LGB Alliance, Keep Prisons Single Sex, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Evangelical Alliance.

If I had a penny for every time one of these organisations revealed to the committee that they had no evidence to back their position, I’d have enough money to fund my transition privately instead of waiting five years on an NHS list just to speak to a doctor.

As when the alt-right and fascist extremists show up at rallies to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with gender critical activists, this isn’t a game of guilt by association. It’s a definitive split between organisations with decades of experience in human rights and service provisions and …well, a number of groups set up in the past few years with little to no experience of safeguarding and an evangelical Christian organisation with a history of supporting conversion therapy.

When hard facts are outwith your reach, the only currency left to trade in is bad faith and unsourced anecdotes, and that’s all we got.

The report notes that in the multiple other countries that have already passed a system of self-declaration into law, there is zero evidence of abuse of those systems. Both the Children’s Commissioner and Amnesty International informed the committee that abuse has simply not been evidenced internationally. Quite the opposite in fact.

Naomi McAuliffe, speaking on behalf of Amnesty International, said: “If anything, we have found evidence that the reforms could have gone further. Our evidence is not taken from newspaper reports or blogs but independently verified and we have not found self-ID to be a huge problem.”

The opposition, on the other hand, claimed that just because there was no evidence for their position that systems of self-declaration led to abuse didn’t mean it wasn’t happening, which is a bit like showing up to trial and insisting the judge just take your word on it that you didn’t do it. On the issue of women allegedly self-excluding themselves from spaces on the off-chance that a trans person might use them, there was again no evidence internationally that showed this to be a widespread phenomenon.

Likewise, the EHRC was found to have provided no evidence or valid justification for having changed its view on GRA reform.

On concerns that making it easier to access a Gender Recognition Certificate would lead to serious problems in regards to access to services and spaces, it was once again revealed that “when asked about evidence of abuse and concerns, no witness was able to provide concrete examples”.

Over and over and over again, opposition to reforming the GRA was found to be unevidenced and, in many cases, built on concerns that had nothing whatsoever to do with the process of getting a Gender Recognition Certificate in the first place – something that needed to be repeatedly addressed during the committee’s investigation.

Opponents even raised the Cass Review, which relates specifically to England and has nothing to do with Scotland’s healthcare system. I’d be willing to bet what little value is left in the pound that most people opposed to this bill would be unable to clearly outline what it even does.

Reading the committee’s findings was like watching a dog chase a car and, having finally caught it, realise they have no idea what to do with it. Anti-trans groups wanted a seat at the big boy table and, having got it, they discovered first-hand that the rhetorical flourishes that do so well on social media don’t stand up to scrutiny in the real world.

The gender-critical contribution to this report reads more like a 96-page tantrum from a toddler who doesn’t understand why they aren’t getting their way than anything that even approaches the burden of proof needed to justify their proposed actions against the trans community.

Victimhood is a defining marker of the anti-trans movement. Those who are part of it claim they are being silenced while their voices dominate the media. They claim to be powerless while having the backing of Conservative governments and influential millionaires. They claim to be “just saying sex is real” while some call trans women “parasites” and suggest that armed men patrol toilets.

And like the foundation of their opposition, it all crumbles to dust under even the lightest scrutiny.