SCARY fact: Scotland, a place that once led the way on LGBT equality, is now lagging behind Denmark, and Malta, and Norway, and Iceland, and Belgium, and Portugal, and Ireland. And most shocking fact of all: North Carolina, one of the deepest parts of the deep south of Trump’s America, is catching up. Like I said: scary.

The main reason Scotland has fallen behind in this way is obvious – it’s because of opposition to the Scottish Government’s reforms on transgender rights. Increasingly, Western countries are allowing their citizens to identify their own gender, but in Scotland, there’s been anger at the idea, including from critics within the SNP.

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So, why are they behaving in this way? I think it’s time we went through the reasons in detail. I think we should also look at an interesting ruling made by a court in North Carolina in the last few days that shows why, in the end, the opponents of reform will certainly lose.

But first of all, we should talk about the case of Jessica Yaniv simply because there’s been so much discussion about her in the last few days, particularly in the right-wing press which, as we know, loves a good horror story it can use to oppose liberal reform.

The facts are these: Yaniv is a transgender woman who has complained to a human rights tribunal in Canada about female beauticians who refused to provide her with a bikini wax. The beauticians preferred to wax only female genitalia and turned Yaniv down because they did not want to wax a penis. Yaniv says this was a breach of her rights.

The opponents of trans reform in Scotland are now seeking to use Yaniv’s actions to prove one of the central points of their argument which is that allowing trans people to identify their own gender is a threat to female-only spaces. Some women, say the critics, fear they will be forced into uncomfortable situations in the men-free spaces, or worse, that they may be attacked by trans women or men posing as trans women. Yaniv’s behaviour, they say, is all the proof we need.

However, trying to use the Yaniv case in this way is to misunderstand how law and equality works. Legislating for equality is not a guarantee that a law can never be abused – instead, what legislators have to do is balance the rights and risks. The right, in this case, is the right of trans women to be treated equally and the risk is that some people may abuse the right, or act in the way Yaniv did. The important point is that to establish that a small risk exists, as those opposed to trans reform have done, is not a good enough reason to restrict the right. It pains me that they can’t see the logic of this point and instead persist in their hysteria.

Now, I know there’ll be some who think I’m being misogynistic here – I’ve certainly been accused of it in the past when I’ve written about trans rights and it’s a prominent trope of some anti-trans commentary, the implication being that those who support trans reforms are either prejudiced against women or, if they’re male, don’t understand women’s fears.

You may also think there’s a bit of mansplaining going on. But if so, it’s not as bad as straightsplaining – the phenomenon whereby members of the LGBT community have their rights, or more likely lack of rights, explained to them by straight people. If they can have a view on LGBT rights, then I can have a view on women’s rights.

As for the accusation of misogyny, I agree with Mhairi Black, the SNP MP who suggests the real misogynists are the critics of trans reform – people who seek to allow only “real” women in women-only spaces.

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The question is: what do they mean by “real” exactly? Ms Black says she has had her gender questioned because she dresses differently, and you can see the same prejudice from some of the critics of trans reform – there’s nothing they delight in more, it seems, than pictures of trans women who do not “pass” as women. Could it be, then, that what some critics mean by “real” is someone who conforms to a traditional womanly, feminine image – someone, in other words, who makes it easier to spot “unreal” women in female-only spaces? If that’s feminism, it’s a deeply conservative version of it.

The critics of trans reform would deny all of this of course – in fact, they insist they are the truly progressive ones and are standing up for women. But if that’s so, why is the right-wing press so keen on their cause and why does it delight in cases such as Jessica Yaniv’s, complete with faux concern that some of the beauticians were immigrants?

And I have a question for those who oppose trans reform: if their cause is so progressive, would they go on a march to promote it in the way LGBT people march for their rights? Perhaps the anti-reform demo could have some prominent supporters of the cause up at the front where we can see them – the charming Rod Liddle, perhaps, or the delightful Stuart Campbell of Wings Over Scotland.

In the end, the clear question in all of this for the Scottish Government is which side it will come down on. Which brings me to that interesting court case in North Carolina.

You may remember that the case came about because the government in the state wanted to force trans people visiting public buildings to use toilets in accordance with the gender on their birth certificate. But last week a federal court ruled trans people can use the toilet of their choice. The US may have a long way to go on trans rights, but the fact that a court there has ruled trans women can enter a women-only space is a big victory where you’d least expect it.

It also underlines the dilemma for the Scottish Government. They certainly don’t want to upset trans-rights sceptics among the supporters of independence, which is why they’ve postponed the reform. But they also know ditching it for good would not be a great look for a party that’s supposed to be progressive.

And the ruling in North Carolina has underlined a very uncomfortable fact for the SNP: a party that’s sensitive about its image can’t risk being over-taken by Donald Trump’s America.