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Gender Recognition Reform: Call for Views

You have until the 16th of May to get your voice heard on Gender Recognition Reform and show your support for young trans people in Scotland.

The Equalities, Human Rights and Social Justice Committee in the Scottish Parliament have released a Call for Views on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.  This is an important opportunity - both for trans people and their allies - to show their support for Gender Recognition Reform. The Committee will use responses to the Call for Views to decide whether to recommend that the Scottish Parliament moves forward with the Bill and whether any amendments should be made.

The Gender Recognition Act (GRA) is the law that allows trans men and women to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) which effectively changes their birth certificate. The Gender Recognition Reform Bill proposes to update this law to make the process simpler, less onerous and less invasive for those wishing to update their birth certificate. To learn more about Gender Recognition Reform you can check out our GRA Explainer.

The Call for Views

The Scottish Government have already undertaken two consultations on Gender Recognition, so you may be wondering why there is another “Call for Views”. This Call for Views is different as it is being undertaken by the Scottish Parliament - as opposed to the Scottish Government - to check that the Scottish Government have got the Bill right. This is a normal part of the parliamentary process and represents the next step in the journey to reforming the Gender Recognition Act.

There are two consultations, a long version which asks for more detailed comments on the bill and a short version, with tick box questions and a comment box at the end. Filling out the short response should just take you a few minutes and we’ve provided some guidance below on how we recommend individuals who support Gender Recognition Reform might want to respond.

Question One: Do you agree with the overall purpose of the Bill?
We would answer Yes to this question.

The proposed Bill improves the current system to make it easier for trans men and women to be legally recognised for who they are by removing the invasive and humiliating requirements of the current system. While the Bill is not perfect, it is a significant and essential step forward for trans rights in Scotland.

Question Two: Should applicants for a GRC require a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria or supporting documentation?
We would answer NO to this question.

We believe trans people should be trusted to know who they are and that the requirement for a medical diagnosis is invasive and dehumanizing. Requiring a medical diagnosis also presents additional barriers given that trans people currently have to wait years for an initial appointment at a Gender Identity Clinic.

Question Three: Should the period of living in an acquired gender be reduced from 2 years to 3 months (with an additional 3-month reflection period)?
We would answer YES to this question.

Being forced to live in your gender for two years with mismatching documents makes trans people vulnerable to being “outed” and opens them up to harassment and discrimination.

Question Four: Do you agree with the introduction of a 3-month reflection period before a GRC is granted?
We would answer NO to this question.

The Bill requires trans people to sign a statutory declaration stating that they intend to live in their gender for the rest of their life. We believe this is enough to prove a trans person understand the seriousness of this decision. Our Trans Rights Youth Commission say they should be trusted, as their cisgender peers are, to know who they are. Trans people only seek a GRC after deep personal reflection, so imposing this at the point of application is unnecessary. They are also concerned how this will impact trans people who may be seeking legal recognition at the end of life.

Question Five: Do you agree with the removal of the Gender Recognition Panel from the Process, with applications instead being made to the Registrar General?
We would answer YES to this question.

As opposed to having their identity assessed by a panel of strangers, we support the move to a system that trusts trans people to know who they are.

Question Six: Should the minimum age for applicants be reduced from 18 to 16?
We would answer YES to this question.

It is at the ages of 16 and 17 that young people begin to enter adult life, such as leaving school and entering the workforce or further and higher education. For young trans people, being unable to obtain a GRC at this age presents an additional barrier to negotiating these already challenging transitions. Without a GRC, young people may have to enter new and unfamiliar situations with mismatching documents, potentially “outing” them against their will and leaving them open to discrimination and harassment as well as presenting administrative barriers to, for example, applying for student loans and setting up utility accounts.

Question Seven: Do you anticipate any negative impacts from the provisions in the Bill?
We would answer Don’t know to this question.

We have a number of concerns about the Bill including a provision that an “person of interest” can apply to the Sheriff court to revoke a GRC, meaning that a trans people may find themselves having to defend their right to a GRC due to having unsupportive family members, for example.

Question Eight: Please provide any further comments you have about the provisions in the Bill

In this section you could talk about why you gave the answers above, including why you support this Bill. You could also use this section to call for improvements to the Bill, including Non-binary recognition and options for under 16s to have legal recognition. If you are a trans person you could talk about your experience of the current system and how you think this bill will impact your life.

To find out what young trans people think of the new reforms you can read this statement from our Trans Rights Youth Commission

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