MurrayBlackburnMackenzie is a policy analysis collective, established in late 2018.
Over the past year, we have researched and written about sex and gender self-identification across different areas of public policy in the UK, working on a unpaid basis. Within this short period, we have established a strong record of research impact:
- Our respective calls for a full Equality Impact Assessment on GRA reform, and an inquiry into how official data on sex and gender identity is recorded are both now being taken forward by the Scottish Government.
- Our work on the 2021 Census and related research has been cited in the Scottish Parliament and informed parliamentary questions and debate.
- We have submitted evidence to the UK Parliament, and other UK-wide consultations.
- We have commented extensively on sex and gender identity policies in the media, including TV and radio interviews, and articles in the national press.
- Our recent peer-reviewed paper (Murray and Hunter Blackburn) on the unregulated adoption of gender self-identification principles by UK public authorities was downloaded almost 5,000 times within 12 days of its publication.
The current debate about sex and gender identity is highly charged. Our aim is to bring rigorous analysis and transparency to discussion in this area, and help establish a robust evidence base.
We have been quietly astonished by the positive response to our work and its impact. Having built up a substantial knowledge base about how gender self-identification principles have taken hold in Scotland and the UK, we are launching this crowdfunder to enable us to continue this work. Like many women involved in this debate, all our work to date has been unpaid, and squeezed around work, study and family commitments.
Funds raised will pay for our time (research and analysis, writing for publication, meetings with policy-makers and media engagement) and administrative costs, such as website hosting, travel and attendance at conferences. We will produce a report on our activity no later than six months following the launch of this crowdfunder to demonstrate how the money has been spent, and further regular updates should funds sustain our work beyond that point.
Our priority is to scrutinise the Scottish Government's plans for reforming the GRA 2004. We anticipate that this analysis will also be directly relevant to any plans for GRA reform at Westminster and would hope that any work undertaken in Scotland could be adapted for a future consultation on GRA reform by the UK Government.
We aim to publish a detailed, evidence-based response to the Scottish Government's draft Bill, supplementary briefings and media articles.
The timescale for this work is late 2019 – June 2020, subject to the consultation timetable. We have set a target of £5,000 to undertake this work.
If donations exceed £5,000, we have set an additional target which will enable us to undertake the following work:
2021 Census: We are concerned that the census authorities in England, Wales and Scotland are proposing to publish online guidance in the 2021 census which will encourage respondents to answer the sex question based on their self-identified gender.
Building on our substantial body of research in this area, we will produce updated briefings to enable the fullest scrutiny of these plans. The timetable for this work is September 2019 - March/April 2020
Gender identity cases studies: Our recent paper on the unregulated introduction of gender self-identification principles in Scottish public policy, as a replacement for sex, received widespread interest. The paper presented two case studies where gender self-identity principles have taken hold without adequate scrutiny. We are however aware that many other public authorities across the UK have moved in the same direction.
Drawing on our 'policy capture' thesis, we will develop further case studies in this area. We aim to publish our findings in peer reviewed academic journals, and to produce additional briefings for wider circulation. The timetable for this work is early to mid 2020.
Our full stretch target allows for one individual to work on a full-time equivalent basis for seven months, also allowing for essential expenses. We would allocate the work between us, depending on availability and other commitments. We would also like to retain some resource to respond to issues that arise during the remainder of 2019 and throughout the first half of 2020.
Thank you in anticipation of your support.
Dr Kath Murray, Lucy Hunter Blackburn and Lisa Mackenzie
Dr Kath Murray is a research fellow in Criminology at the University of Edinburgh. She completed her PhD in 2014, looking at the disproportionate use of stop and search on young, working class men in Scotland. Her research in this area led to major legal and policy reform, for which she received an Economic and Social Research (ESRC) Outstanding Impact prize.
Lucy Hunter Blackburn is a former senior civil servant (Head of Higher Education Division, Head of Reducing Reoffending Division and Director of Policy at Historic Scotland). Lucy is coming to the end of researching for a PhD at the University of Edinburgh looking at student finance.
Lisa Mackenzie is a former communications specialist in the UK Government and has worked in a number of Whitehall departments, including the Department for Social Security and Home Office, as well as the Commission for Racial Equality.