SCOT GOES POP / PANELBASE POLL: The Scottish public (pronouns: he/she/they) do *not* think it is “unacceptable” to misgender someone – although this is a closer result than on the other questions

Although attitudes to pronouns hold huge symbolic significance for both sides of the GRA / gender debate, they can still seem at first glance like a trivial or even frivolous issue compared to the others we’ve covered in the Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll, such as medical examinations after a sexual assault.  However, it mustn’t be forgotten that “misgendering” is front and centre in many definitions of transphobia, including the SNP’s working definition as developed by Fiona Robertson.  For many people on the pro-self-ID side, transphobia is every bit as serious a matter as, for example, anti-Semitism. So using the wrong pronouns is potentially already something that could cost someone their career, or lead to a knock on the door from an over-zealous police force investigating a “non-crime hate incident”.

In coming up with a question for the poll about pronouns, I was keen to ensure that it couldn’t be interpreted as a motherhood and apple pie question about good manners – because I’m sure the vast majority of people would think it’s a good idea to be courteous and to use an individual’s preferred pronouns wherever possible.  That’s not the issue at all – the point of contention is whether people should be compelled to use certain pronouns when referring to others, ie. whether bad manners simply should not be tolerated by society or by the law, or whether going down that road would destroy one of our fundamental freedoms.
Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll (a representative sample of 1001 over-16s in Scotland was interviewed by Panelbase between 20th and 26th October 2021)
Some people argue that it is bigoted or transphobic to ‘misgender’ a transgender person – for example to refer to them as ‘he’ or ‘him’ if their preferred pronouns are ‘she’ and ‘her’.  Others argue that forcing people to use particular pronouns when referring to a transgender person is an unacceptable attack on free speech.  Which point of view do you find most persuasive?

It is unacceptable to refer to a transgender person by the wrong pronouns: 30%

It is an unacceptable attack on free speech to force people to use particular pronouns when referring to a transgender person: 40%

Don’t Know / Prefer not to answer: 29%
Fascinatingly, this is the only gender-related question in the poll to produce an even vaguely close result.  That can perhaps by explained by a feeling among a sizeable minority that there’s no good reason not to expect people to use certain pronouns – ie. there’s no real cost attached to it.  There’s also quite a dramatic gender gap on this issue that wasn’t seen on the earlier questions.  Among women, there’s actually a very slim plurality (34% to 32%) in favour of the idea that it’s unacceptable not to use someone’s preferred pronouns.  However, the overall result goes the other way because men feel very differently – they break 49% to 27% in favour of the “unacceptable attack on free speech” option.
Once again, there’s a gulf between the generations, with a reasonably strong plurality (42% to 30%) of under-35s supporting compelled speech on pronouns, while the two older age groups take the opposite view.  It perhaps won’t be a surprise that SNP voters believe misgendering is unacceptable, although the result is startlingly narrow (38% to 35%).  And, remarkably, a slim plurality of Labour voters (41% to 36%) favour free speech over compelled speech on this matter – a verdict that is at odds with the stance of both Keir Starmer and his radically different predecessor Jeremy Corbyn.
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A response to Professor John Robertson:  It belatedly came to my attention yesterday that Professor Robertson has made a number of angry ad hominem attacks on me as a result of this poll. That’s disappointing but not remotely surprising – over the last few weeks he’s attempted to leave a few snide comments on Scot Goes Pop, and for the most part I haven’t let them through.  
If memory serves me right, Robertson’s blog used to be called “Thought Control Scotland”, and I now realise that wasn’t an ironic title – or, if it was intended to be ironic, the only real irony lies in the fact that it was nowhere near as ironic as planned.  It’s become scarily clear that thought control is in fact Robertson’s cardinal belief.  His pattern of behaviour towards me actually goes back to an issue that was totally unrelated to gender or GRA reform.  Devi Sridhar, as long-term readers will know, is something of a heroine of mine (to such an extent that our resident anti-lockdown nutter always refers to her as “your girlfriend, James”), but I made one small criticism of something she said a few months ago – it was probably just about the only time during the pandemic that I queried her stance at all.  It was to do with schools, from what I recall – I thought she was too bullish about getting schools back to normality, or something like that.  Robertson jumped down my throat and instructed me to be unquestioningly accepting of everything that Devi Sridhar said in future, because she was the expert and I wasn’t.  In other words, “stop thinking and shut up”.  The glorious irony here is that unquestioning acceptance of “expert opinion” is precisely what got Britain into the Covid disaster of March/April 2020, and Sridhar was one of the people who pulled us out of that hole by teaching us to apply some critical thinking to the propaganda we were being fed in the false name of science.
But it appears that “stop thinking, shut up, and follow the leader without question” is Robertson’s basic approach to every other subject too. I wonder if that’s bound up in his background in far-left politics, ie. communist-style “democratic centralism” (that’s just a guess, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised).  When he started berating me and others on gender matters, he simply failed to make any sort of case whatsoever – he didn’t make any positive argument in favour of GRA reform or self-ID, and he didn’t even try to identify any flaws in the arguments of those who were opposed. Instead, he arrogantly demanded that the critics of GRA reform should simply stop talking about the subject.  The blogposts he’s written about me and about the poll just amount to a massive “SHUT UP” – there’s literally no other content there at all.
Self-ID opponents are being “boring”, apparently. (The main thing required of allegedly boring people is, naturally, that they should shut up.)  They are “starting a moral panic about trans people”, we’re told.  (What is the only way to prevent Robertson from accusing you of starting a moral panic?  Why, by shutting up, of course.  Could trying to get you to shut up be his sole motivation for making the moral panic claim in the first place?  Perish the thought!)  I shouldn’t, it seems, have asked a question in the poll about whether sexual assault victims should have the right to be examined by a biologically female doctor, because the asking of the question implies that there’s a genuine issue there.  (Could Robertson be trying to prevent the question from ever being asked because he doesn’t want the public to ever have the opportunity to say that they think there’s a genuine issue there? Oooh, don’t be so cynical!)  In fact, it turns out that neither I nor anyone else should ever commission a poll with any GRA-related questions in it at all, and we should instead be asking questions that Robertson – or, bizarrely, his daughter – personally find more interesting.  His daughter’s suggestion was supposedly that I should instead have funded research into how to stop the abuse of women in the wake of the Sarah Everard tragedy.  I tell you what, John, if that’s the poll you want to see, then why don’t you commission and fund it, and then we’ll observe you trying to maintain your composure as cretins come along and ask: “Why didn’t you poll about starving children in Africa, Robertson?  Don’t you care, man?  Your priorities – where the hell are they?”
The reality is, as I’ve pointed out before, that there has been polling done on just about every subject under the sun – including the consequences of the Sarah Everard case.  (See, for example, this Sky News report, posted this very day, about a YouGov poll.)  That being the case, the real question for Robertson and his fellow travellers is: why not the GRA? Why should that be the only subject that no-one is ever allowed to poll about?
Oh, and the other question for Robertson is: why are you fibbing, and pretending that I’ve said things that I quite plainly haven’t?  
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