Scottish Constituency Marred By Transphobia In Wake Of Sex Ed Reform.

Is Inverclyde Council doing enough to support the SNPs introduction of LGBTQ+ education for young people?

SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Heading-Up A March of Glasgow Pride, 2018

In the most recent events, Benson (under the self-reported nom’de’plume Sarah Sigmund), has invited parents of Inverclyde into her home as an alternative to academy schooling where children have been given “unregulated” autonomy over decision making regarding their gender identity and vaccination status.

Amanda Benson a.k.a Sarah Sigmund

In direct response to vaccination measures in schools, and proposed changes to the social education of youngsters in Scotland, Greenock Local Amanda Benson continues in her mission to “protect the children of Inverclyde” from what she deems to be harmful rhetoric. A group of 237 adults as of 21/09/2021, concerned and panicked constituents of Inverclyde turn to Benson/ Sigmund, a character in Greenock known for her erratic behaviour. With multiple arrests for assault and, in contrast, multiple charitable endeavour’s under her belt, she looks to provide support in a world of disinformation in her newly formed group Let Me Be Frank.

The once 20,000 strong Hearts of Inverclyde set up to battle the community issues caused by Co-vid has since disbanded for reasons unknown. However, before its closure or removal, group admin Amanda Benson remains resolute in her last message; Inverclyde requires an anti-vax, anti-trans outlet.

Screenshots of Hearts of Inverclyde before it disappeared off the platform.

That is putting it diplomatically; everyone deserves free speech. As a keen advocate for vaccination but, mainly, LGBTQ+ rights, Amanda Benson/ Sarah Sigmund attracted my attention in Early 2021 as lockdowns began to ease. As a high-ranking community figure by sensation, there was constituency wide concern that Benson was abusing her position of influence through a group of thousands founded in the Universal trauma of the Covid 19 pandemic.

Slowly the subject of Hearts Of Inverclyde turned from providing to foodbanks, making neighbourly deliveries, and check-ins of the elderly or disabled. There came a slow drip of gender politics from the Greenock situated mother of 4 regarding the nature of safety surrounding AMAB trans-females and their influence in society.

In a very short space of time, Benson began to foster anti-trans expression, citing sources that are both widely discredited, unsupported and even openly transphobic. However nothing was as condemining as her own opinion.

In public and private conversations with Benson, whom personally identifies as a TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist), she revealed that her motivations stem from a history of sexual assault within the prison system, abuse of her human rights, and a general fear of male genitalia having been present without her knowledge or consent. Using her children as a vehicle, she has been known to use her children as leverage, asking her 4-year-old boy questions about genitals on a public live on Facebook accessible to her 20,000 strong audience.

Likening transness and trans-acceptance to “mental illness” and “disability” that required home care and support, she posits the archaic and discredited notion that trans-women are paedophiles, rapists, and violent with a particular interest in ‘conversion’ or ‘influence’ to what she calls “the trans agenda”.

What followed over the summer was an exodus of near 2,000 Facebook users from the group as Amanda Benson adopted her TERF persona, She-Ra, upped tempo on her delivery of transphobic content. Opposing opinions or rebuttals were met with censorship and removal from the group and, often, verbal abuse and threats. Though trolls will be trolling, Amanda Benson, holding a recent history of violent assault in Inverclyde, was perceived as a real threat by trans people across a constituency that hasn’t a single openly identified, exclusive LGBTQ+ safe-space.

When the subject was brought to the attention of local councillors, however, it is easy to see why Amanda Benson feels she has a leg to stand on. Rather than address the bigotry demonstrated by Let’s Be Frank…Inverclyde, Cllr Innes Nelson responded:

“Inverclyde Council is supportive of all sexual orientations within Inverclyde’s youth. Details of the Clyde Pride LGBT Group, Inverclyde and how the Inverclyde Council works with young people can be sought from Hugh Scott of the Council’s Community Learning and Development Team.”

It is difficult, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community to see gender and sexual orientation intrinsically conflated with one another by the council that is soon to be trusted with providing gender and sexual education to young children.

When trawling through the advised websites indicated for support of LGBTQ+ communities, the information is outdated with the last updates being made in 2018, the proposed strategy for implementation and support for young people was produced for implementation in 2015.

The Inverclyde LGBT+ group has lain dormant since June 2020 with only 101 followers. Considering young people gain the majority of their information through social media, it is worrying that Lets Be Frank…Inverclyde has more than double the amount of engagement.

With this sentiment of ‘passing the buck’, confused connections between gender and sexuality, combined with a lack of exclusive LGBTQ+ services across the constituency, it seems that the LGBTQ+ community is abandoned to doing what it has always done, perpetuating it’s own survival against a cis-het majority that is lead by a historically violent, misinformed individual.

Thankfully, the Inverclyde LGBTQ+ community itself, representing in the growing and satirically named Shart Of Inverclyde, is prepared to mount forces and fight the damning opinions of trans and homophobes in the local area with candid conversation. After trying and failing to “name and train” Ms Benson, Shart of Inverclyde has moulded her into a caricature of all things prejudice in order to maintain Pride, survival and support for those marginalised and silenced by the sometimes violent threats of Benson and her ‘Brigade of Bigots’.

The power of community and common sense prevails. However, it remains to be seen what Inverclyde will really be doing in order to support the young and flourishing LGBTQ+ community in the coming months as the SNP fulfil their promise to broaden education in Personal and Social Relationships.

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Furious learner, exploring personal development, mental health advocacy and human connections.

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Philippa Cooper

Philippa Cooper

Furious learner, exploring personal development, mental health advocacy and human connections.

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