Transmisogynistic framing in BBC interview with Lorna Slater

Following the announcement of a draft power-sharing deal between the Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Government, Lorna Slater was interviewed by Justin Webb for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on 21 August 2021. The first half of the four-minute interview introduced the topic, and covered three very broad questions: how close are the Greens to a deal, what will the Greens get done, and can the Greens change the SNP’s spending priorities?

An equal amount of the interview, however, was devoted to a predictable attack on the Scottish Greens’ (and SNP’s) policy on reform to the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, with gross misrepresentation of the facts by the interviewer. His transmisogynistic framing of the proposed reforms was very much in line with ‘gender critical’ approaches. This was handled brilliantly by Lorna Slater, who stated the facts very clearly. However, Justin Webb’s words will carry some weight with listeners, adding to the general background of mistrust of trans people, and especially trans women, that is being sown in the UK media.

Here is the second half of the interview, along with my transcript (with square brackets indicating overlapping speech).

JW: You will be very well aware that one of the things that’s controversial in your own party is the question of changes to the Gender Recognition Act, which would allow people who say [JW’s emphasis] that they are female, say that they are women, to be regarded entirely as women and have access to women’s spaces. It’s hugely controversial. We know it is, within the SNP as well. Are y– are you going to press those issues?

LS: Let’s be very clear about what exists already. People can already change their gender markers on their passport and their driver’s licence, when they want to, if they, if they feel they need to do that. And we have always allowed people to self-identify into bathrooms and changing rooms, there’s never been a law in Britain against those things. So we will absolutely be putting forth, in the first year of parliament, legislation to allow people to also [change their birth certificate. It’s the only [unclear] document that would be changed.]

JW: [But hold on a second. You are allowed at the moment …] you’re allowed to discriminate at the moment in terms of someone’s legal sex, aren’t you. Um, and, and you would like to change that, is that right?

LS: There’s no change to equalities legislation, so we are not proposing any changes at all. The change to the law will be to allow people to – we already allow people to change their gender marker on their birth certificate, this is just to make the process a bit smoother. It’s really not a big [change. It’s very strange how it’s managed to drum up so much controversy.]

JW: [But hang on a second. It’s just, just [unclear], just, just, just.] Well, within your own party. Because there are some people who are very upset about it on both sides, aren’t there. Are you, are you saying that someone who identifies as a woman will have total access, should have total access, to spaces that are at the moment women-only?

LS: The law that is being proposed is being very much misrepresented …

JW: But it’s just a [yes or no!

LS: [… The change to the Gender Recognition Act doesn’t change anybody’s access to any spaces.

JW: [Right.

LS: [It will absolutely not change any of those things. The only thing it does is allow a slightly smoother process to change a document that is already allowed to be changed. It’s a wild misrepresentation to suggest that anybody’s rights or access will change in any way, because they absolutely will not.

JW: Lorna Slater, from the Scottish Greens, thank you very much.

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