Trans Youth Commission Statement
LGBT Youth Scotland’s Trans Youth Commission is led in all its actions and statements by the transgender young people that it represents. As a group, we have been committed to improving the GRA since its reform began in 2017. We recognise that this is an opportunity to improve the quality of life for our community across Scotland. We have participated in consultations with MSPs regarding this bill to express both our range of needs and our unified expectations of what the government must deliver to achieve the best possible outcome in support of transgender equality.
We welcome the introduction of the Gender Recognition Act Reform Bill and greatly approve of the move to Statutory Declaration being taken forward. We support the Scottish Government’s commitment to allow sixteen and seventeen year olds to apply for a GRC, aligning this legal right with the many others that this age group are entitled to in Scotland.
Not only does this change affirm that transgender youth are as respected and trusted by the Scottish Government as our cisgender peers, it also allows young people to begin their adult lives with correct legal documentation of their identities.
Waiving the fee of applying for a GRC is another improvement we welcome commitment to, as it hugely reduces the financial barriers with which the previous GRA gate kept our legal recognition. This change will empower us and ensure that our dignity and competence is not challenged and debated as it has been previously.
We are pleased that the evidential period of living in our correct gender has been reduced from two years to six months. However, we cannot concede that this result is satisfactory. The notion of proving our commitment to our gender identities for three months during the process of acquiring a GRC highlights a misunderstanding of transgender peoples’ identities, lives and experiences.
There is no evidence given for the necessity or benefit of a reflection period. Basic knowledge of how transgender individuals take steps to affirm their own gender identities through social transition, following extremely thorough introspection, should inform the Scottish Government that there are many personal actions taken before changing legal documents is ever considered.
We have heard from the Scottish Government during the bill’s most recent announcement that they acknowledge that the majority of Scotland’s transgender population have not applied for a GRC because of the current invasive process, yet have been, in many cases, living authentically for years.
It is on this very basis that the requirement for trans people to further evidence their commitment to their gender over the months the application will take is impractical and does not align with the aims of the Bill.
We are also disappointed by the lack of consideration and compassion in accounting for how this six month waiting period impacts transgender individuals at the end of their lives. We have worked as a youth commission to highlight the circumstances in which a GRC may not be secured in time for a person’s death certificate to correctly identify them. The distress this causes transgender people at the end of their lives, and for their families and friends is incredibly significant. We believe that this is a crucial oversight and must be resolved.
Whilst we appreciate the recommendations informed by the trans community that have been acted upon, there is still much more to be done to secure a GRA that achieves equality for us all. It is indisputable that non-binary people are continuing to be ignored and any cause for celebration following this most recent announcement is heavily tainted by this.
We listened to the Cabinet Secretary Shona Robison bring the GRA reform Bill to the parliament and saw many supportive reactions from MSPs. We also listened to concerns regarding the bill, primarily the misconception that the reforms would impact women’s spaces in a negative way. As was reiterated by Shona Robison on many occasions, single sex spaces are outwith the purview of this bill and the exemptions outlined in the Equality Act (2010) will remain unaffected.
Despite some of the comments made by a handful of MSPs, misinformation should not be merited, as the majority of women’s groups support this reform bill. In fact, many of the transgender women and girls living in Scotland face transphobia, sexism, and misogyny on a daily basis due to their gender presentation. Their rights are women’s rights. It is time for all of parliament to acknowledge that when they discuss the rights of all women and girls, this includes trans women and girls too.
The process of influencing this bill has been incredibly emotionally taxing and we feel that many compromises have been made. We fear further compromises that may come out of the legislative process may jeopardise the remaining improvements that have been fought for.
For this reason we ask that MSPs listen to both our approvals and criticisms of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill thus far. We are incredibly grateful to the MSPs who have spoken in favour of this bill at its introduction. If there are any MSPs who have questions or wish to understand more about our stance on this Bill we would love to meet with you to discuss this.