Sex and gender equality law and policy: A response to Murray, Hunter Blackburn and MacKenzie

Sharon Cowan, Harry Josephine Giles, Rebecca Hewer, Becky Kaufmann, Meryl Kenny, Sean Morris, Katie Nicoll Baines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalScottish Affairs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • sex
  • gender
  • equality
  • discrimination
  • trans


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