Sex and Gender Equality Law and Policy: a response to Murray, Hunter Blackburn and Mackenzie

19 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2020

See all articles by Sharon Cowan

Sharon Cowan

University of Edinburgh - School of Law

Harry Josephine Giles

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Rebecca Hewer

University of Edinburgh

Becky Kaufmann

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Meryl Kenny

University of Edinburgh

Sean Morris

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Katie Nicoll Baines

University of Edinburgh

Date Written: October 22, 2020

Abstract

This article is a response to ‘Losing Sight of Women’s Rights: The Unregulated Introduction of Gender Self-Identification as a Case Study of Policy Capture in Scotland’ by Kath Murray, Lucy Hunter Blackburn and Lisa Mackenzie, published in Scottish Affairs 28(3). Murray et al sought to explore the legal status of women, particularly with regard to discrimination legislation, and concluded that the interests of trans women had begun to systematically erode the interests of non-trans women in Scotland. In this response, we aim to correct some of the erroneous statements made by Murray et al about legal definitions of sex and gender, and about discrimination law. In critically engaging with Murray et al’s argument we aim to build a much-needed clearer understanding of law and policy on sex and gender in Scotland, particularly as it relates to the application of the Equality Act 2010. We argue that, in that claiming that there has been policy capture in Scotland, Murray et al have neglected to contextualise ongoing debates about sex and gender in law against the backdrop of over two decades of clear legal and policy shifts across the UK. We call for researchers and others – in Scotland and elsewhere – to take care, particularly in interpreting and applying the law, especially as it applies to marginalised minority populations, so that we do not further obfuscate or mislead on important legal and social issues.

Keywords: sex, gender, equality, discrimination, trans

Suggested Citation

Cowan, Sharon and Giles, Harry Josephine and Hewer, Rebecca and Kaufmann, Becky and Kenny, Meryl and Morris, Sean and Nicoll Baines, Katie, Sex and Gender Equality Law and Policy: a response to Murray, Hunter Blackburn and Mackenzie (October 22, 2020). Scottish Affairs, Forthcoming, Edinburgh School of Law Research Paper No. 2020/04, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3730090

Sharon Cowan (Contact Author)

University of Edinburgh - School of Law ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, EH8 9YL
United Kingdom

Harry Josephine Giles

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Rebecca Hewer

University of Edinburgh ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9JY
United Kingdom

Becky Kaufmann

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Meryl Kenny

University of Edinburgh ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9JY
United Kingdom

Sean Morris

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Katie Nicoll Baines

University of Edinburgh ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9JY
United Kingdom

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