- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2023

President Biden and Democrats championing the Equality Act may want to keep an eye on the transgender rights debate fueling a political upheaval in Scotland.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced her resignation Wednesday amid a backlash over her support for a gender self-identification measure that came back to haunt her when a twice-convicted rapist who now identifies as female was housed in a women’s prison.

Ms. Sturgeon, Scotland’s first female head of government, cited the “physical and mental impact” of leading the nation and the Scottish National Party since taking over in 2014, adding that she will remain in office until the party chooses a successor.

“The nature and form of modern political discourse means that there is a much greater intensity, dare I say it, brutality, to life as a politician than in years gone by,” said Ms. Sturgeon. “All in all, and actually for a long time without it being apparent, it takes its toll on you and on those around you.”

Her decision to step down was promptly linked to the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, a measure making it easier to obtain a “gender recognition certificate” that was passed in December by the Scottish Parliament.

The British government effectively vetoed the bill on Jan. 16 in an unprecedented intervention under section 35 of the 1998 Scotland Act, a move blasted by Ms. Sturgeon as a “full frontal attack” on the Scottish Parliament. Then the Isla Bryson case erupted.

Isla Bryson was convicted on Jan. 24 of raping two women as Adam Graham in 2016 and 2019 before transitioning to female. While awaiting sentencing, Bryson was sent first to a women’s lock-up, then reassigned to a men’s prison following a public outcry.

Ms. Sturgeon struggled with the issue earlier this month in public appearances, agreeing with one of the victims who accused Bryson of “faking it” to gain access to a women’s prison, but also referring to Bryson as “her” and skirting questions about whether she believes Bryson is a woman.

At her resignation press conference, Ms. Sturgeon denied that criticism over her support for gender self-identification was the “final straw,” telling reports that “there are difficult issues confronting the government just now, but when is that ever not the case?”

As far as her critics were concerned, however, Ms. Sturgeon doomed her political career by refusing to reverse course on the bill allowing biological males into women’s schools, restrooms and prisons based on a few months of self-identification.

“Although, in her resignation announcement, Nicola Sturgeon sought to deny the impact of what she euphemistically called ‘short-term pressures’, it can not be denied that the SNP handling of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill under her leadership has been hugely damaging,” said the Women’s Place UK in a Wednesday statement.

The bill lowers the time frame in which a person must live according to their preferred gender from two years to three months; eliminates the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and lowers the transition age from 18 to 16.

The group noted that “Sturgeon listed a number of achievements during her tenure including legislative protections for those subject to domestic abuse, such as Domestic Abuse Protection Scotland Act.”

“Yet the GRR effectively removes women’s rights to single-sex spaces and thus is a huge step backwards,” said the statement.

Shonna Graham, Isla Bryson’s estranged spouse, said Wednesday she was “delighted” with Ms. Sturgeon‘s exit.

“She shot herself in the foot over and over again, and I’m delighted she’s gone,” Ms. Graham told the [U.K.] Daily Mail. “I’m all in favour of transgender rights, but this policy went too far and ended up putting a rapist, who still had all his bits, in a woman’s prison.”

Former President Donald Trump declared “good riddance” and called Ms. Sturgeon a “failed woke extremist.”

“Sturgeon thought it was OK to put a biological man in a women’s prison, and if that wasn’t bad enough, Sturgeon fought for a ‘Gender Recognition Reform Bill’ that would have allowed 16-year-old children to change their gender without medical advice,” Mr. Trump said in a statement.

Sonia Sodha, a columnist at the [U.K.] Observer, said that “Nicola Sturgeon made a big political mistake in pushing gender self-ID reforms that posed a risk to the safety of Scottish women and girls, which were opposed by Scottish voters.”

“It’s played an important role in her political downfall,” she tweeted.

Across the pond, the House passed in 2021 the Equality Act, an anti-discrimination act that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, fueling concerns about biological males in women’s prisons, locker rooms and other facilities.

Several states, including California and Maine, have passed laws or enacted administrative policies requiring inmates to be housed in state prisons according to their gender identity.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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