Trans Edi student finds ‘transphobic’ slogans spray-painted on the path near Main Lib

She also found dozens of ‘transphobic’ stickers on lampposts too


CW: transphobia 

“Transphobic” slogans have been found spray-painted onto the pavement on North Meadow Walk by a trans student on her way home from Main Lib.

“Women won’t wheest” is a social media hashtag popularised by Marion Millar, a “gender-critical” activist who was arrested under anti-hate speech laws for alleged homophobic and transphobic tweets. Charges were later dropped by prosecutors.

The hashtag is also used by For Women Scot, an organisation that advocate for women’s “sex-based rights” and oppose reforms that would make it easier for trans people to change their legally recognised sex and gender. For Women Scot “are at a loss” as to how people could deem the spray-painted slogan to be “transphobic.”

The fourth year Ecological and Environmental Sciences student, who asked not to be named, told The Edinburgh Tab that she was disappointed to come across such slogans she believed to be transphobic in a city that had otherwise been very welcoming to her as a trans person.

“It was just a little reminder that there are transphobic people out there, which as a student studying abroad, isn’t the warmest welcome,” she said. “I also was kind of worried if other trans people who weren’t used to it saw it.”

After seeing the slogans, the student posted pictures of them on The Meadows Share to warn others of their presence.

She captioned it: “So this trans woman won’t wheest either. Can we not have messages discriminating people based on their gender (even if it’s disguised as feminism) everywhere please.”

One commenter reported it to Edinburgh City Council for it to be removed, adding “I just don’t have a pressure washer in the flat I can use on this”.

However, it appears people have taken matters into their own hands as by 12pm – less than two hours after it was posted on The Meadows Share – the slogans had been covered up with black spray paint.

“Wheesht” is a Scots word meaning “shut up” or “keep silent”. “Women won’t wheest” is a social media hashtag used by For Women Scot. 

For Women Scot are a group that oppose reform to the Gender Recognition Act because they believe it would allow trans women to use cis-woman’s single sex spaces like toilets, prisons, and changing rooms. The hashtag was popularised by Marion Millar, a “gender-critical” activist from Central Scotland who was arrested last year under hate speech legislation in connection with alleged homophobic and transphobic tweets.

Prosecutors later dropped her case after Joanna Cherry (the SNP MP for Edinburgh South West who has previously been accused of transphobia herself ) took up her legal defence and argued the case did not comply with human rights law.

Stickers containing the same phrase have previously been found in Fife and after a complaint from a member of the public, Police Scotland recorded it as a hate incident. This is defined as: “Any incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated (wholly or partly) by malice and ill-will towards a social group but which does not constitute a criminal offence.”

“Transphobic” stickers bearing other slogans have also been found on-campus at Edinburgh Uni in recent years, including in the female toilets at Potterrow.

A sticker found in Potterrow in 2019

The Edinburgh Tab spoke to the fourth year who found the slogans who said she was “grateful for whoever took the time to remove all of the messages and how supportive the people in The Meadows Share were.”

She added: “I was a bit surprised to see a hashtag I usually see in the Twitter bio of TERFs somewhere in Edinburgh of all places, which for the most part has been supportive. I’ve seen stickers before and some post on The Meadows Share of people disposing of leaflets and taking down said stickers so I didn’t think much of it.

“I decided to take a photo because someone must really dislike trans people to spend all this time spray painting it under every street light. I felt a bit wary because to have people just walk by casually – sure most of them probably didn’t know what it really meant (even I didn’t know what it was until my friend told me) – but what if they did? I did feel the stares of some people as I was taking photos along the way but they were probably just confused why someone was taking photos of the footpath.

“I didn’t really want to walk back that way if I had to see it again so I was kind of relieved that someone covered them all up.”

When approached for comment, a spokesperson for For Women Scot told The Edinburgh Tab: “We are delighted to hear of more women keen to show their public support for their rights. We are at a loss as to how anyone could see this as “transphobic” – there’s nothing hateful about it and it’s rather bizarre that anyone thinks we should revert to the bad old days when women should know their place and be quiet. At a time when violence against women is endemic, no one should be in favour of stifling women’s contribution to public debate.”

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