MSPs take notice of emails. But they’re busy people with limited time, so effective emails make it easy for them to engage. A good email to your MSPs will:
- Get straight into the subject matter.
- Make three clear points rather than trying to cover all aspects of a complex issue.
- Draw on personal experience where relevant.
- Take note of what the MSP has already publicly said on the topic, if relevant.
- End with a question and/or request to meet.
Circular emails with identical or almost identical content are less likely to be read: MSPs (and their assistants who may be screening correspondence) recognise circular emails very quickly, and delete them. For that reason we’re not providing a template: you’ll find guidance here for writing your own letter.
Get straight to the subject matter
At the start of your letter, tell your MSP that you’re a constituent, and tell them what you’re writing about.
Make three points
You’re likely to have many areas of concern about the Gender Recognition Reform Bill. Rather than trying to cover everything (which would make your email very long, and reduce the likelihood of your MSP engaging), try to stick to three key points. Some examples are here, not as an exhaustive list, but as the kinds of things you might want to cover:
- The general principle of replacing sex (which is precisely defined in law) with gender identity (which has only vague and circular definitions) as a way to categorise human beings.
- Lack of clarity in the proposals (e.g. what does it mean to live in the opposite gender).
- Lack of detail in the bill on how the revised GRA will interact with the Equality Act.
- Lack of detail about what it means to make a false declaration.
- Lack of detail about protocols for de-transitioning.
- Unresolved issues relating to health and intimate care (e.g. it will be difficult or impossible to request female-only care for cervical smears, breast screening etc, elderly and disabled women may not be able to specify care from a female etc).
- Unresolved issues relating to domestic violence and rape crisis services, which are already running ahead of the law (e.g. users cannot be assured that they will only encounter female workers and users in residential services, workers are put in impossible positions having to risk-assess male-bodied potential users).
- Unresolved issues relating to prisons (e.g. the effect on women of having male-bodied prisoners in the female estate, even when those prisoners have been risk-assessed as not intentionally harmful).
- The effect on girls’ and women’s physical and mental health of sport at all levels becoming effectively mixed-sex (e.g. with male people in teams and sharing changing facilities).
- Any residential situation – e.g. Hostelling Scotland has made its dormitories mixed-sex by default by making them ‘trans inclusive’ on the basis of self-id documentation, meaning that women cannot guarantee they will sleep in a female-only dormitory (leading women to self-exclude).
- The effects of undermining strong social conventions in use of facilities such as toilets and changing rooms.
- The added pressure on young people to make early decisions about transitioning.
- The impact on data such as crime figures if male crimes are increasingly reported as female crimes.
Draw on personal experience where relevant
If you can illustrate one or more of your points with a personal anecdote, do, but try to keep it short and to the point. If you’ve had experience of being shouted down, or intimidated, for trying to raise concerns, you can mention that as well.
End with a question and/or a request to meet
Ending with a question increases the likelihood that the MSP will engage with what you’ve said, and opens up a dialogue – or the possibility of a follow-up email if you don’t hear back or get a brush-off. Your question can be:
- An open one – e.g. Please can you tell me your position on gender recognition reform?
- Something about the process – e.g. Please can you tell me whether your party is organising a briefing for its MSPs and staff, and if so, which organisations and individuals are being invited to speak?
- Something about the substance – e.g. Please can you tell me how many children under 18 have been prescribed with hormones to delay puberty? (the point of questions like this is to ask something a staff member will need to check, as this will be recorded).
If you have the time, energy and confidence to meet with your MSP, you can request an appointment to discuss further – we recommend doing so if possible as a face-to-face conversation is often more productive. Sometimes it’s easier to do this as part of a group, so if you don’t know anyone else in your constituency, contact FWS at firstname.lastname@example.org as we may be able to put you in touch with others.
To find your MSPs contact details put your postcode into writetothem.com. Everyone has one constituency MSP and seven regional MSPs and it’s worth contacting ALL of them.