Gregor Murray will walk into a Dundee City Council planning committee meeting this evening as an Independent councillor for the first time since being elected in 2012.
Known for being the only transgender councillor in Scotland, Councillor Murray resigned as a member of, and elected representative for, the Scottish National Party in May this year.
In a letter to chief executive Peter Murrell, Councillor Murray stated that the SNP has “a major institutional problem with transphobia”.
Councillor Murray self-identifies as neither male nor female and first came out as transgender before the council elections in 2012 in a flurry of comments opposing gender quotas – a position which did not inspire favour among many feminist members.
And in the resignation letter, Councillor Murray attributes blame to a number of strategically-placed “transphobic” politicians for having created a hostile environment towards those who are transgender within the party.
Councillor Murray’s return also follows a two-month suspension by the Standards Commission for Scotland for breaching the Code of Conduct due to two counts of online abuse. Last week, I met Councillor Murray for the first time for two main reasons.
Firstly, I was keen to deepen my limited understanding of transgender as an equality issue and, secondly, I sought to discover what legislative changes Councillor Murray, and other transgender people across Scotland, are pursuing.
Read more from Ewan Gurr here
Debate around legislative reform is what has brought to the surface divisions within the SNP which Councillor Murray suggests are as potent as the anti-semitic and anti-Islamic sentiments that currently bedevil the two main UK parties.
Two committees at Holyrood are considering changes to the Gender Recognition Act and the 2021 census.
Councillor Murray says both areas of legislation “affect the trans community” but has described the conveners of both committees as “avowedly transphobic”.
The conveners, Joan McAlpine and Ruth Maguire, both welcomed a letter on Thursday from Fiona Hyslop, the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, which stated that the National Records of Scotland proposes the continuation of a binary gender question in the 2021 census.
It appears that, at present, all the aces appear to be landing in the lap of the status quo as Councillor Murray described the decision as “severely disappointing”.
Despite being outspoken on social media, Councillor Murray also recounts frequent experiences of disproportionate online abuse ranging from disparaging comments on appearance to death threats.
“Being the first of anything is never easy,” said Councillor Murray. “It is isolating and, in the last year, there have been some real low points.”
I have my own misgivings about transgender identity but, on a personal level, the individual I met last week carries a fierce pride for their constituency, appears to wear the mantle of responsibility with a tangible awareness of the gravity of expectation and is admittedly reflective and repentant for areas of wrongdoing.
I genuinely wish Councillor Murray well in the next phase of public service.