WHEN I started writing about the trans self-identification issue nearly two years ago it was with the utmost trepidation. Questioning, or even discussing, the proposal that men should be able legally to become women merely by making a declaration of such, was regarded as transphobia, homophobia, bigotry.

The police were recording as “hate incidents” anyone who “misgendered” a trans person – in other words referred to their biological, natal sex.

My successor as Rector of Edinburgh University, Labour feminist Ann Henderson, was being hounded by trans activists for refusing to state that trans women are biologically female. Edinburgh University, astonishingly, failed to support her.

The gay tennis icon Martina Navratilova was expelled from the LGBT group, Athlete Ally, for saying that people with male physiques should not complete in women’s sport.

Cultural and health bodies, and even the Scottish Government, were ceasing to use the very word “woman” in case it offended male-bodied transwomen. Bizarre substitutes like “womxn”, “menstruators” and “ciswomen” were being deployed in the cause of inclusivity.

Nicola Sturgeon evidently regarded Self-ID as the new frontier of progressive legislation. With the minimum of public discussion, she committed the Scottish Government to abolishing the very definition of woman as “adult human female”. (That phrase is regarded as hate speech by some police forces).

Well, times change. This issue is now out in the open. More and more women are speaking out against the undermining of sex-based rights.

Even the ultra-woke Guardian is permitting columns from feminists like Suzanne Moore calling for an end to the “no platforming” of gender-critical academics like Professor Selina Todd and Dr Kathleen Stock. They have been labelled as “Terfs” by trans zealots.

Last week, the UK Government called a halt to self-identification legislation south of the Border. Ministers discovered that children as young as 12 are being given puberty blockers by gender reassignment clinics. Puberty blockers halt the sexual development of children. They are of the class of drugs once used as chemical castration for sex offenders.

Influential figures in the SNP, like the former communications guru, Kevin Pringle, are now urging Nicola Sturgeon to follow the UK Government. But the Scottish Equalities Secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville, apparently intends to press ahead with legislation to allow self-ID. Mr Pringle is speaking for many in the party who now realise that the growing backlash against Self-ID could threaten the SNP’s chances in next year’s Holyrood elections.

Yet it seemed glaringly obvious to me two years ago that women would never accept this existential assault on their sexual identity. How could they be expected to accept people with male genitalia and masculine physiques as real women? Why should women be forced to accept male-bodied transwomen in their protected spaces, in changing rooms and toilets?

Indeed, at first I thought this proposition that transwomen were literally women was just anti-trans scaremongering. Surely activists weren’t actually saying that they were biologically female?

I learned the hard way that this is precisely what they were saying. I was repeatedly accused of hate speech for suggesting that this would mean the removal of human biology from the school curriculum.

Political leaders like Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens and the former leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson continue to insist that people with penises can be and are actually female. Labour’s Shadow Equalities Secretary, Dawn Butler, said last month that “babies are born without a sex”. This is pure flat earthism.

Shamefully, leading feminists like Germaine Greer have been “cancelled” for objecting to extreme transgenderism as misogyny. That it demeans and invalidates women.

How could someone with a male body possibly experience social reality in the way real women do? Transwomen do not have uteruses, do not menstruate, do not give birth.

Trans advocates reply that, well, some women can’t give birth and some women don’t menstruate. This is ridiculous and offensive sophistry. As if a woman ceases to be a woman if she can’t have children.

These canards are still rife on social media with people arguing that clown fish changing sex, and people born intersex “prove”that there is no fixed biological definition of sex.

Humans are of course mammals, not fish. The existence of a minuscule number of people born intersex (who are not of course transgender) doesn’t alter the fact that 99.9 per cent of humans are born male or female.

Humans are a binary species. We are not hermaphrodites. Sexual differentiation is the basis of human reproduction. That this needs to be said is a shocking reflection on the intellectual integrity of the left. Many supposedly sensible people have been morally coerced into accepting something they know to be untrue. It is deeply worrying.

Most SNP politicians know that transgender ideology is nonsense. They keep quiet partly because of fear of Britain’s onerous hate speech laws.

It has been left to genuinely courageous women like Joan McAlpine MSP and Joanna Cherry, MP, to fight for reason. For doing so they have been the target of astonishing abuse on social media, and from the trans activists embedded in the SNP.

Academics like Lucy Hunter Blackburn have bravely challenged the proposal to remove the question on sex from the national census.

This has nothing to do with “transgender rights”. Trans people are free to identify as anyone they wish. No one is stopping them wearing what they want or loving who they wish. This is not homophobia 2.0.

In fact, advocates of Self-ID, like Stonewall, have set back the cause of trans rights by harnessing it to a quasi-religious dogma.

Mr Pringle and others in the SNP now realise that the Scottish Government is marching into a minefield by persevering with Self-ID without proper debate. Given the pause in England, it could lead to a transgender Gretna Green.

But there is an equitable solution. Of course allow transwomen to identify as female without needless bureaucratic obstacles. But the Government should make clear in the legislation reforming the Gender Recognition Act that this does not mean abolishing the biological definition of sex or infringing women’s sex-based rights under the Equalities Act.

You’d think that a feminist like Nicola Sturgeon would regard that as self-evident. Perhaps she does. But if so she needs to say it loud and clear before half the voting population – women – turn against the SNP.

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