Losing sight of women’s rights (again): A response to Cowan et al.

In August 2019, the peer-reviewed journal Scottish Affairs published our article ‘Losing Sight of Women’s Rights: the unregulated introduction of gender self-identification as a case study of policy capture in Scotland’, which considered how gender self-identification principles have become embedded in public policy and the impact on women’s sex-based rights. We used two case studies: the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) trans prisoner policy and the census authorities’ plans for the 2021 census. An open-access copy of the paper can be read here.

The article was downloaded 8,123 times within three months of publication and has now been downloaded over 10,000 times via both the publishers’ own website and the University of Edinburgh’s research explorer portal, which carries a pre-print version.

In July this year, the editor of Scottish Affairs accepted a response to our article, and invited us to generate a reply. We understand that both papers will be published outside the paywall on the Scottish Affairs website shortly, along with our original paper, to enable readers to review the full exchange.

In the meantime, we have published a longer version of our response which you can read here.

As we revealed in our submission to the Scottish Parliament on the Scottish Government’s draft Hate Crime and Public Order Bill, getting our original article into print was not without difficulty. In the run up to the proofs being submitted, we were made aware of an attempt from within Edinburgh University Press to prevent our article from being published. This experience was reported in The Sunday Times and The Bookseller in early August and you can read the statement we issued at the time.

In our latest article, we also explain why Lisa Mackenzie removed her name from the original paper. Her authorship of the paper was acknowledged in a statement carried in the February 2020 edition of Scottish Affairs.

We are pleased to participate in discussion about this complex area of policy and law. We hope to continue to undertake research in this area and have recently launched a new crowdfunder in support of this work.