THE Scottish Parliament embarked on a journey to extend a hand of support to one of the most marginalised groups in our society – the transgender community.

The passage of the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill was intended as a beacon of progress, illuminating a path toward inclusivity and understanding. This beacon was abruptly extinguished by a block from Westminster when it utilised Section 35 of the Scotland Act for the first time in history, a move that felt not just like a halting of progress but also a direct affront to Scottish democracy.

The tragic story of Brianna Ghey, a vibrant soul taken too soon, serves as a poignant reminder of the stakes at play. Brianna’s life and the heinous crime that ended it cast a long shadow, highlighting the real and present dangers faced by transgender individuals daily.

The sentencing of her killers brought some measure of justice but it also opened a broader conversation about hate, societal acceptance and the role of leaders in shaping public discourse.

In a world that too often turns its back on those who dare to live their truth, the vitriol and disdain directed at transgender individuals are not just disappointing – they are profoundly dangerous. It’s a stark reminder that our words carry weight and for those of us in positions of influence, whether in the media or politics, there is a grave responsibility to ensure our rhetoric fosters understanding rather than fear, acceptance rather than division.

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Last week’s remarks by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in the Commons were, in this context, deeply troubling. To use the identity of transgender individuals as a political punchline – especially in a week marred by the anniversary of Brianna’s death and while her mother was there in the Houses of Parliament – was not just insensitive, it was a failure of leadership.

It prompts the question is there an absence of compassion, a lack of awareness of the impact of such comments? Or has there been desensitisation to the consequences of perpetuating such rhetoric?

The outcry from various quarters, including Nicola Sturgeon’s accurately aimed criticism, underscores a collective yearning for a politics that uplifts rather than undermines; that protects rather than exposes to harm.

As a member of the Equalities Committee at the Scottish Parliament, it’s disheartening to witness these missed opportunities for empathy and leadership. The fight for transgender rights, for people’s recognition and safety, is not a “culture war ” to be waged but a moral need to be championed.

In a more just world, Brianna would have been granted the simple dignity of having her death certificate reflect her identity, a gesture of acknowledgement from a society to one of its own.

The National: Two teenagers were found guilty of murdering Brianna Ghey (Family handout/Cheshire Police/PA)

Such actions, small in effort but vast in significance, are the least we owe to individuals who navigate a world that is often unkind to those who dare to defy traditional norms.

The blockage of the GRR Bill by Westminster, citing concerns over its implications for the Equality Act, was a stark reminder of the fragility of devolved powers and the limitations placed on Scotland’s ability to legislate in line with its values.

This isn’t merely a legal or constitutional dilemma, it’s a profound statement about the value we place on human dignity and the lengths we are willing to go to protect it.

As we are faced with the choice between regression and progress, silence, and advocacy, it becomes clear that the path forward must be paved with unyielding support for the transgender community. This is not about politics, it’s about people, about ensuring that every individual, regardless of how they identify, feels safe, respected and valued.

The Prime Minister’s refusal to apologise, coupled with the UK Government’s stance on Brianna’s death certificate, reflects a broader issue within our current political landscape, which is the refusal to acknowledge trans reality.

It’s a failure to validate and accept all of our society, one that doesn’t fit a narrative of heteronormativity. This transcends party lines and political ideologies, pointing to a deeper need for empathy, understanding, and, above all, action.

In Scotland, our commitment to inclusivity and equality remains unwavering. The setback faced with the GRR Bill does not mark the end of our journey but rather a call to redouble our efforts, stand in solidarity with the transgender community and continue advocating for a society that recognises the dignity and worth of every individual.

The path to equality is fraught with challenges but it’s a path we must walk with our heads held high and our hearts open, guided by the belief that a better world is not just possible but necessary.

The demeanour of Brianna’s mother stands as a testament to the potential capacity of us humans, for compassion and understanding. Amid her profound grief, she has extended an olive branch of empathy not just to those who directly wronged her but also to the families of the individuals responsible for her daughter’s death.

This remarkable display of forgiveness and kindness, even in the depths of despair, serves as a powerful lesson for us all. It underscores the importance of maintaining our humanity and capacity for understanding, even when faced with the most harrowing of circumstances.

Esther Ghey’s actions remind us that compassion should be the cornerstone upon which we build our interactions and judgments, especially when addressing the complexities surrounding the lives of marginalised communities.

Her strength and grace in such a trying time illuminate the path forward for all of us, highlighting the profound impact empathy can have in healing divided communities and fostering a more inclusive society.

The memory of Brianna Ghey is a reminder of the stakes involved, of the lives that hang in the balance. Let us channel our collective outrage, not into despair, but into a renewed commitment to fight for a world where everyone, regardless of gender identity, can live without fear, embraced by a society that sees them, hears them, and values them.

This is the Scotland I strive for.