SO here we finally are.

The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill sits on the edge of passing through the Scottish Parliament this week – and all it took was six years of undelivered manifesto commitments, two public consultations and one online apology for failing to deal with transphobia in the SNP from the First Minister herself. Not that it changed anything.

Six VERY long years, where Britain’s chattering class lost its collective mind in service to a relentless campaign of anti-trans misinformation; a conspiratorial crusade that falsely claimed, among many other things, that child murderer Ian Huntley was actually transgender, and that Scotland’s LGBTQ+ community was trying to lower the age of consent.

For our queer and feminist communities, it has felt closer to an eternity. Still, in the immortal words of Ghostbusters II’s dock supervisor on seeing a phantom Titanic arrive in New York: “Better late than never”. There’s no denying that the debate has been toxic as all hell, heightened by a coalition of bored millionaires, reactionaries and terminally divorced comedy writers alongside Britain’s eager right-wing press.

Having wasted no time in perpetually branding the legislation as “controversial” until it inevitably became so, the past years have put a spotlight on the trans community that has been at times unbearable; where truth has often come a distant second to clicks.

However opposition to the bill is worded, whether through unmasked bigotry or couched in the faux conciliatory tones of “I have no problems with trans people, but … ”, the inevitable conclusion of our antagonists is always, without fail, a proposal that punishes transgender people for the behaviour of abusive, straight, cisgender men. That’s no feminist position.

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The conclusion of the bill in the Scottish Parliament, whatever the outcome, will at the very least provide a degree of breathing space from the keyboard warriors and sock accounts that have made obsessive discussion of the lives of trans people an all-consuming hobby. Once they’ve tuckered themselves out anyway.

I choose the words “whatever the outcome” carefully. Because, while many consider the passing of the bill to be a certain thing, personally I am not so convinced. Likely, yes. Probable even, also yes.

But definite?

While the SNP may be pressing forward with these relatively minor reforms now, it was not so long ago that they were content as a party to kick the legislation into the long grass. It was the Scottish Greens who ultimately fished it out and brought it back to the table as part of the cooperation agreement that led them to government.

And so I’m not exactly filled with confidence that more opposition voices from the party of government won’t come crawling from the woodwork in those final moments in an attempt to torpedo the bill, whether through wrecking amendments or outright voting against the legislation.

Throughout the process of bringing this bill through Parliament, the so-called gender-critical movement has been given near everything they wanted, with the exception of throwing the legislation out entirely.

They demanded the bill be delayed, and it was. They demanded a second consultation after the first returned a result they were unhappy with, and it was granted. They demanded to be involved throughout the committee stage and they were, ultimately revealing themselves to be holding no evidence to support their claims.

Harmful opposition flourished in the space left by the Scottish Government’s inaction – and having pushed a vulnerable community onto the stage, the SNP made a quick exit and left us under the fire of a wealthy cohort of middle-class reactionaries who wanted to cosplay the rebel faction.

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It’s for that reason that any victory on Wednesday will be a bittersweet one indeed. The hurt caused by the cowardice of the Scottish Government won’t be made wholly right by the passing of this bill, nor will it bring back those lost to the violent rhetoric left to spread unchecked in the promise left behind.

And while I do urge the government with my whole being to do the right thing now and pass this legislation without amending its meaning to the point of being irrelevant, I won’t be feeling particularly grateful for its passing either. Not while meaningless concessions to the Bill’s opponents remain threaded through its paragraphs, nor while non-binary recognition remains achingly absent.

In time, we will look back on this period when self-described feminists found themselves shoulder-to-shoulder with fascists, and organisations like the LGB Alliance claimed grassroots status while taking offices at 55 Tufton Street, and wonder how it all came to be such a mess.

There isn’t a simple answer, though one could start by looking at the 2017 anti-LGBT Values Voter Summit in Washington DC where evangelical conservatives discussed using the language of feminism to separate the T from the LGB as a means of undermining progressive movements everywhere through divisions and infighting.

And from there, one could draw a line to the many US-funded far-right organisations at home alongside the LGB Alliance and beyond, whose influence in UK politics is regretfully pointed.

For now though, when the foundations of the gender-critical movement in Scotland are revealed to have been built on sand, I suspect it will take such a blow as to never really build back the influence it currently holds. And that will be a good thing for all of us. Especially those who know we still have some way to go.