AT an annual conference hosted by the American Christian right in Washington DC a few years ago, panellists outlined a new strategy to stop the march of LGBT equality: “If you separate the T from the alphabet soup, we’ll have more success.”

They went on to explain that religious and right-wing arguments against transgender equality were no longer working, before outlining that the best strategy would be to adopt the language of the left and cloak their bigotry in progressive deceit.

As one of the speakers quipped about the self-described feminists involved: “I had no idea we agreed on so much.”

It’s unlikely that this particular conference was especially influential in the global effort to roll back LGBT equality, but it did draw attention to tactics that have become commonplace in organisations that oppose progressive legislation such as reforming the Gender Recognition Act. One organisation endorsed by a number of SNP politicians, the LGB Alliance, appears to have taken the advice quite literally and dropped the T from LGBT entirely.

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It has been a frustrating time to be a trans person watching this play out in the media, broadly without the input of any trans voices to counter it. Opposition to the rights of transgender people is often dressed up in the language of “safeguarding”, however a cursory glance below the surface reveals it to broadly be the same arguments used against gay people in the 1980s with a new coat of paint.

“Legitimate concerns” are a mask that politicians and organisations have worn for years to justify unfounded worries. Looking at the issue of access to bathrooms, something that trans people have been quietly doing for decades, the deceit is clear.

Rather than attack trans people head on, the argument instead focuses on the “concern” that if trans people can access their respective bathrooms, cisgender men will pretend to be trans in order to access these spaces and harass women. Putting aside for a second that men have been harassing women for a long time without needing to pretend to be women, this fear is not based on reality.

Looking to other countries that already allow trans people to self-identify their gender, there are no examples of this happening over the years these policies have been in place. The lack of trans and non-binary voices in our media has allowed misinformation to flourish, egged on by the click-driven nature of social media and exclusionary rhetoric. Our media have broadly failed to challenge claims made by well-funded organisations that will seemingly say whatever they need to win the point.

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A scan through the common arguments used to exclude trans people from public spaces or to prevent access to healthcare reveal that many contradict one another. Anti-trans activists oppose the use of puberty blockers, a safe and reversible means of delaying puberty, that offers young trans people the chance to better understand themselves before making any long-term decisions. Then, after forcing them through a traumatic puberty, they will argue that physiological differences, the direct consequences of puberty, are also the reason trans women should be kept out of women’s spaces.

Or, in another example, the organisations campaigning to keep access to a Gender Recognition Certificate as expensive and inaccessible as possible are the same organisations that point to trans people without a Gender Recognition Certificate as proof of some kind of broader deception.

The function of a GRC is to bring documentation in line with the lived reality of who we are. Trans people don’t suddenly stop being who they are because of what a small slip of paper claims.

The debate is gamed in such a way that there is no situation at all in which trans people will be accepted. That’s ultimately the goal. To keep trans people outwith, regardless of how many contradictory arguments and U-turns opponents have to make.

Perhaps the most glaring example of this to date within the SNP has come with the angry reaction to a trans woman being shortlisted as a potential candidate on an all-female list. Mridul Wadhwa, an activist and manager of a rape crisis centre, has been left facing endless vitriol over making it on to the shortlist.

With no recourse to revert to arguments about safeguarding or any other progressive cover, anti-trans activists within the SNP have been forced to reveal the crux of their position which is, simply, they do not want a trans woman to be recognised as a woman.

And while organisations that claim to be for women continue to focus solely on working to undermine the lives of trans people, Wadhwa has been doing the actual work to make safe spaces for women. She’s been working to tackle violence against women since 2005, while being an advocate for black and minority ethnic voices.

The point of all-female shortlists is to tackle the under-representation of women in politics. Transgender women, along with women of colour, have never been represented in the Scottish Parliament. Ultimately, limiting the diversity of the women to be considered for selection would be a loss for Holyrood.

If Wadhwa is ultimately selected and elected, it would be a historic day for LGBT equality and women within our government. More than that, it would be a win against a movement that has set itself the challenge of erasing trans people from public life.