MurrayBlackburnMackenzie is a policy analysis collective, established in late 2018. Over the past two and a half years, we have researched and written about women’s sex-based rights and gender self-identification across different areas of public policy in the UK. We engage regularly with key decision makers and, within a short period of time, have established a strong record of impact based on careful research and analysis. You can read about our activity over the past six months here. All of our output – submissions, briefing notes, media articles and other material – can be read on our website.
What we are crowdfunding for
We would like to continue our work on women’s sex-based rights, and to build on our knowledge and experience in this area. There are a number of areas we would like to focus on between now and the end of 2021. Most are a continuation of work we have undertaken to date:
- Gender recognition reform: The Scottish Government remains committed to reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA), as set out in the SNP manifesto. The First Minister indicated recently that she intends to bring forward draft legislation in this parliamentary session although the timing is not yet clear. The Scottish Government received 17,000 responses to its 2019 consultation, which are not yet published. Our recent correspondence with senior officials confirmed that the analysis report commissioned by the Scottish Government, and at least some of the responses, are being taken forward for publication. As and when this happens (possibly within the next few months), we would like to assess the outcome of the consultation, and to seek involvement in any process following from this. The UK Government has indicated that it does not intend to shift to a regime of self-declaration for legal sex change but intends to “simplify and improve” the process for obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate. We have already submitted written evidence to the current Women and Equalities Select Committee inquiry into GRA reform, and again, would like to follow closely developments at Westminster, and review the relevance of these for Scotland.
- Sex-disaggregated data: We remain concerned about draft guidance from Scotland’s Chief Statistician, which proposes that public authorities in Scotland cease the collection of data on sex, apart from in exceptional circumstances. We established via FOI that the Scottish Government will publish the responses it received to the consultation on the guidance in due course. We would like to review these responses when they are published, and to respond further to any finalised guidance, as necessary. Scotland's census will take place in March 2022. The Scottish Government has agreed guidance for the longstanding sex question which will advise respondents to answer based on their self-declared gender identity. The Office for National Statistics lost a legal challenge on similar guidance for the 2021 census in England and Wales, and the Scottish Government is reported to be considering the High Court judgement and its implication for the Scottish census. We would like to continue to engage with the census process, to research and write about data collection practices more generally, and to highlight where robust, high quality data on sex is being lost.
- Hate crime: Over the last year we spent a significant proportion of our time scrutinising proposed reforms in the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021. The Scottish Government has offered us an input into the production of the Explanatory Notes to the Act, and we would like to have the capacity to be as fully involved as possible. We would also like to engage with the police and prosecutors on their plans for training and implementation of the Act. Although the Act has yet to come into force, there have already been several reported incidents where women’s rights to freedom of expression are being challenged via reports to Police Scotland under existing law and we want to keep a watching brief on this situation. We would also like to consider the outcome of the Law Commission’s consultation on hate crime law reform in England and Wales, to which we submitted a response.
- Other work: A third of the MSPs elected last month are new to the Scottish Parliament. We would like to generate a briefing early in this Parliament for MSPs on the current debate about women’s sex-based rights and gender self-identification, and how this impacts on policy areas within the devolved competency of the Parliament. We would also like to engage with the review of the Scottish Prison Service’s transgender prisoner policy as and when that work takes place.
We also wish to continue to engage with the media when approached, as we know that many women do not feel so able to do so, because of concerns about the consequences of speaking publicly on these issues.
What your donations will pay for
This level of activity is only sustainable for us with some funding. We will continue to pay ourselves £15 per hour for work supported by this crowdfunder and will prioritise the work as appropriate. The initial sum we are seeking would cover the equivalent of around 80 days of paid work between the three of us. With this, plus a small amount remaining from the previous crowdfunder, and assuming that we will continue to supplement paid time with unpaid time, this should allow us to be active on the issues listed well into the autumn. If we can raise more, it will allow a mixture of planning further ahead and more intensive work over the next few months.
We will update our donors on the activity their donations have supported within six months.
We are incredibly grateful that so many women (and some men) have seen fit to fund the work we do to date and sincerely hope that we have met the expectations that our donors had of us. We understand there are many demands on people's resources at the moment. We appreciate every donation, of whatever size, and will continue to take as seriously as ever the trust placed in us to provide a carefully reasoned and evidenced voice for women in the policy and law-making process.
Thank you in anticipation of your support.
Dr Kath Murray, Lucy Hunter Blackburn and Lisa Mackenzie