TODAY’S issue of The National is historic – the first Scottish newspaper to be produced and contributed to exclusively by women in my lifetime. And what an honour it is to be a part of it.

I’ll address the elephant in the room right away because I know a small yet vocal minority of readers won’t be happy with my inclusion in today’s line-up. I thought for quite some time as to what to write about for today’s paper and whether or not to address head-on the abuse I know I’ll receive for being here.

But the fact is that The National has always been a paper which unapologetically gives a voice to the underrepresented, and as one of an extremely small number of openly trans regular columnists in the UK, I feel a responsibility to give a voice to my community – not least on a day like today.

I’m proud to be a woman, I’m proud to be trans and I’m proud to be a columnist for The National.

Transphobia and misogyny are inherently linked and – make no mistake – the rise in transphobia in Scotland and internationally in recent years is deeply damaging to all women – not just those of us who are trans.

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The trans liberation movement is, at its core, based around the principle of bodily autonomy and it’s no surprise that we’ve seen clear links between transphobic gender-critical activism and the anti-abortion movement worldwide. In the United States, there is a clear parallel between states imposing laws restricting the right to abortion and those imposing various forms of anti-LGBT and anti-trans legislation.

Additionally, the rise in vitriol around public toilet use by trans people has led to a number of women – disproportionately lesbians – who may for whatever reason not dress or look the epitome of femininity being accused of being transgender and facing abuse in women’s toilets.

And in some of the most extreme proposals to restrict trans women’s use of public toilets or our participation in sports, individuals – including, in many cases, children – whose gender is “disputed” could be subjected to invasive “genital inspections”. It sounds absurd and dystopian, yet these proposals are very real, with a number of US states passing or proposing bills which include such provisions.

One of the most well-known cases of a woman assigned female at birth being substantively penalised by anti-trans restrictions and regulations is that of South African athlete Caster Semenya. Her naturally high testosterone levels have resulted in her being prevented from competing in the women’s category in a number of races unless she took testosterone-suppressing medication which she said had made her “constantly sick”.

The argument that sportspeople such as Semenya have a “biological advantage” due to their hormone levels falls apart when you consider the other biological advantages countless other sportspeople have without controversy – an often cited example being American Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, whose longer-than-average arms, longer torso and lesser production of lactic acid provide him with an excellent biological advantage to be a fantastic swimmer. Yet with him, the outcry is nowhere to be found.

In Semenya’s case, she was not only a victim of transmisogyny, but also of racism and misogynoir – women of colour and particularly black women have consistently been expected to conform to white standards of womanhood, with the racist perception of black women as less feminine resulting in further discrimination.

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The intersection between misogyny, racism and transphobia was also on show closer to home this week, with the election of Iris Duane as a vice-president of the University of Glasgow’s Student Representative Council (SRC).

Iris posted on Twitter in celebration of her election, noting that she is the first openly transgender sabbatical officer at the university in its 600 years of history, and what ensued was one of the most vicious pile-ons I’ve witnessed on the platform – with a substantial amount of the abuse directed at her relating to the way she was dressed in a photograph of her at a hustings event.

She was wearing a low-cut shoulderless top – a perfectly normal outfit for a student union event – but hoards of transphobic comments poured in, insulting Iris on her appearance and her outfit choice.

Many comments were deeply racist and were a stark reminder of the brutal campaign that exists to drive trans people out of public life, as well as the additional harm inflicted against trans people of colour.

I don’t like to use examples from Twitter – a platform where hate and abuse is far easier to express than in the real world, and which in recent months has done far more to amplify transphobic abuse than prevent it – but it’s important to remember that a substantial number of these accounts have real people behind them. And some of those real people carry huge influence and power.

JK Rowling tweeted in 2020 that she “respect[s] every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them”. Yet this week she launched a brutal attack on openly trans broadcaster India Willoughby, describing her as “a man revelling in his misogynistic performance of what he thinks ‘woman’ means – narcissistic, shallow and exhibitionist”.

She later doubled down, posting: “India is cosplaying a misogynistic male fantasy of what a woman is”.

Rowling’s attack on Willoughby on the basis of her being trans is transphobia, plain and simple. There can be no equivocating on this – describing a trans woman as a man and linking being trans as inherently misogynistic cannot be described as anything other than transphobic, and such words are deeply dangerous from an individual with the influence Rowling has. I am concerned that such words and attitudes can lead to increased violence against trans people and those perceived to be trans, whether they are or not.

Just 18 months ago, the so-called gender-critical movement hid behind the guise of “legitimate concerns”, positioning itself not as having a specific hatred towards trans people but rather being opposed to particular legislation designed to improve our lives due to perceived (albeit usually based in falsehood and misinformation) concerns relating to women’s rights.

This pretence was always a lie but now it could not be more obvious. The saddest thing is that, for the many gender-critical individuals who genuinely believe they are part of a feminist crusade for the protection of women’s rights, the truth couldn’t be more to the contrary.