Transgender Extremism Triggers Scottish Leader’s Resignation
The leader of Scotland resigned on Wednesday after her months-long advocacy of an extreme transgender bill ended in a humiliating defeat — a sign that even the most secular of countries has definitively turned against the LGBTQ movement.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon suddenly resigned just weeks after vowing to fight on for independence from Great Britain and for transgender rights. The 52-year-old Sturgeon joined the Scottish National Party at age 16 and took office in 2014, ranking as the longest-serving First Minister in Scottish history.
One of the key turning points came last December when Sturgeon publicly supported the Gender Recognition Reform bill, which would allow anyone at age 16 or up to change their gender on government documents based on nothing more than their word; it would also reduce the time a person has to identify as transgender from two years to just three months.
After she publicly stumped for the law, word broke that a man convicted of raping two women would be housed in a female prison. The rapist, who was born Adam Graham and now goes by the name Isla Bryson, identifies as a female, ultimately was moved to another facility — but analysts said the prison housing was the kind of outrage the law would multiply. (President Joe Biden also campaigned on a similar vow.)
The national governments that make up the U.K. — Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland — enjoy broad rights to pass their own legislation since the U.K. Parliament imposed devolution in 1998. But on January 17, the U.K. government blocked the controversial transgender measure with a section 35 order — the first time Westminster has ever overruled a lower nation’s decision. They cited concerns that transgender activists might change their gender in Scotland based on the laxer standard and demand the rest of the U.K. observe it. Elsewhere in the U.K., a medical examination must precede legally changing one’s gender on government-issued identification.
The change would pave the way for biological men having access to female restrooms, showers, battered women’s shelters, and prisons. Nearly twice as many Scots opposed the GRR than supported it.
A bested Sturgeon evaded questions about how pivotal the GRR was to her resignation. “I have been and will always be a feminist. I will fight for women’s rights, and I will stand up against threats to women’s rights every day that I have breath in my body,” she said on Wednesday. “But I’ll also stand up for the stigmatised, discriminated against, marginalised, and vulnerable in society.”
“I believe in a progressive liberal inclusive society,” she told reporters. “I will do everything I can to turn that into a reality.”
“Nicola Sturgeon was certainly an effective politician, a darling of the Left and woke establishment. She created what to many felt like a one-party state, wrapping up her socialism in a Scottish flag,” Rev. Richard Turnbull, a conservative social and economic commentator who is the director of the Centre for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics and the chairman of the Trustees of The Christian Institute, told The Washington Stand. He called Sturgeon “a singularly divisive figure.”
Sturgeon had also advocated for the “Named Persons” scheme, in which that state would appoint someone to look after the welfare of every child from birth until age 18. Turnbull called the program “a snoopers’ charter on family life. This was ruled in 2016 an unlawful infringement of family life by the Supreme Court in a case brought by The Christian Institute and the proposals were dropped in 2019.”
“If that wasn’t enough, she increased income tax for large numbers of ordinary working people, destroyed the family, destroyed the economy,” he added. Sturgeon had used the nation’s devolved powers to block tax cuts.
Her signature issue was securing Scotland’s independence from the U.K. She came to power after Scotland rejected a “once-in-a-generation” referendum on independence on September 18, 2014, by a 54-46 margin. But after the 2016 Brexit referendum, when most U.K. voters democratically chose to leave the European Union, Scotland preferred to stay, so she sought a second once-in-a-lifetime vote on independence. Last June, Sturgeon demanded then-U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson grant Scotland the right to another election on independence, but he refused — a move supported by the U.K. Supreme Court last November.
Although Sturgeon belongs to a separatist party, she describes herself as a cosmopolitan with an internationalist flair, seeking national independence so it can be submerged into the EU’s global governance structure. “People who think of a nationalist party sometimes think, inward-looking and parochial,” she told The New York Times in 2015. “The kind of nationalism I represent is the opposite of that.”
A poll taken last month found that, if an independence referendum were held again, the same margin would vote against it: 54% against independence vs. 46% in favor. Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy called the poll “a damning verdict on Nicola Sturgeon’s arrogant and irresponsible plans to treat the next general election as a de-facto referendum on independence.”
Critics at the right-of-center Spectator magazine noted that, in her resignation speech at Edinburgh, Sturgeon used the words “I,” “me,” or “my” 153 times; she mentioned Scotland only 11 times.
The SNP has scheduled a conference next month to discuss how to move forward with Scottish secession.
Sturgeon plans to stay in office until the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood selects her successor. The body has 28 days to do so, or the nation will hold another election.
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.