Amanda Millar is the current President of the Law Society of Scotland, and is the first openly LGBT+ person to hold the role. A highly-respected solicitor of long-standing Amanda has committed her legal career to ensuring that the voices of the under-represented are heard. As LGBT+ History Month comes to a close, Amanda reflects on her own trans journey and what she has learned along the way.
So… for LGBT+ History Month my trans journey.
Recent months and years have brought a level of offensive often hate-filled rhetoric directed at the trans community. The most offensive of the rhetoric appears to be based on a fear of the unknown, a belief in criminal behaviour labelled against a whole group ( similar to that directed as recently as a generation ago at the gay male community which suggested they were all a risk, also without evidence) and apparent permission to be as offensive as you like about people who are different without any consequence because you are ‘protecting’ another group.
The strength of opinion and extremity of language made me consider what I see as something simple. Trans Rights are Human Rights. The current rhetoric has appeared to be a return to the hate, fear, and ignorance filled rhetoric directed principally at gay men not much more than a generation ago.
I take this opportunity, and see it as my responsibility as a President of the Law Society of Scotland who is motivated to lead an organisation that works to be reflective of the society that it serves, to share my trans journey…
My first encounter that I can recall with someone from the trans community was my high school librarian who one day went from wearing men’s clothes to the next wearing make-up, a skirt and other items expected of a 1980s woman. I admit that then I thought they looked odd and wondered why she would put herself through that in a high school where the words and taunts of young people are often the most harsh you might ever hear. As someone who spent a reasonable amount of time in the library I heard and often did not understand the insults, the abusive ‘humour’, I also watched the librarian continue to come to work everyday and do her job without rising to the offensive provocation. What courage and determination to become her whole-self.
Early in my solicitor career I met and supported people in the extensive process required to transition, certifying the documents needed to allow them to legally become the people they were.
I was approached by a colleague who I had known for years who had recently shared that they were transitioning. As this process advanced I was again approached to assist with certifying the necessary paperwork. I was delighted to help and on reflection am slightly ashamed that I didn’t think more about everything that was required to prove who you are in this open first world civilised, inclusive, society of ours.
That wonderful inclusive human who I have known as woman and man is now happily married. He has always been a valuable member of our society. It was my honour to be involved in some small way in his journey to live as his true self.
I have a friend and a former colleague who are both mothers of trans young people. They are aware of the challenges their children face to become their true selves. The challenges of those who don’t know them judging them, the challenges of those who do know them accepting the difference in what they thought they knew, the challenges of transition itself. As loving, caring parents and humans they stand with their children as they face these challenges. As an L of the LGBT+ community who grew up in the 80s/90s I know that was and probably still is not true for every member of the LGBT+ community and am personally appalled by the vitriol of some of the LGB community directed at Ts. How soon they forget or how little they know how lucky they were.
Recently I have met (virtually given the pandemic challenges) members of the trans community who are passionate about justice, civil society and who are or want to be members of our profession which stands up for society, democracy and the rule of law. They are as valuable to the profession and society as all the others who value their profession and its role in a civil society.
I am the leader of a profession that has professional and public responsibilities. I am the leader of a profession that requires us to challenge, to frame and test arguments, to advise, to defend, to protect, act ethically and exercise professional respect. I am the leader of a profession of over 12,000 members with an almost equivalent number of differences of opinion and as a result I acknowledge that my opinions will not be shared by all. As leader of the Scottish Solicitor profession I expect those willing to share their difference of opinion to do so with open and informed minds and respectful language. It is what we do. It should be what we are.
I am President of the Law Society of Scotland and I believe that #TransRightsAreHumanRights