On Thursday 3rd March the Scottish Government introduced the Gender Recognition Reform Bill to the Scottish Parliament. A Bill is a proposal for a new law, or changes to an existing law. The purpose of this Bill is to update the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier for trans men and women to update the gender on their birth certificate.
The Bill will now go through a process of “scrutiny”. This will be led by a committee of MSPs who will examine and gather evidence on the Bill. The Bill will also be debated in the Scottish Parliament, where MSPs can ask questions about the Bill, share the views of the people they represent and request changes. The final Bill will then be voted on by MSPs. This process will take about a year. If the Bill goes through this process successfully it will become an Act of law.
The Gender Recognition Act
The Gender Recognition Act is the law that allows trans men and women to update their birth certificate and get what’s called a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). The reasons someone might get a GRC could include:
You can change the gender marker on other documents such as a driving license and passport without a GRC. Trans people do not need a GRC to access single sex/ gendered spaces or services that align with their lived gender.
Why does the Gender Recognition Act need updated?
Under the current rules, to get a GRC you have to:
This current system does not provide legal recognition for non-binary people or those under 18. For those who can access legal recognition, the process is not only degrading and invasive but is also inaccessible due to associated costs and huge waiting times for appointments to gain access to a gender dysphoria diagnosis. Being required to live in your gender for two years with mismatching documentation leaves trans people open to discrimination and harassment. For young trans people aged 16 and 17 being ineligible for a GRC means that they have to enter adult life with mismatching documents which can ‘out’ them as trans and impact their safety, as well as cause problems later on if they do get a GRC and need to change their details.
Trans people deserve a simple and accessible system to legally change their gender. One that respects their privacy, is available to all trans people and reflects that trans people know who they are and should not be asked to prove this.
What’s good about the Bill
The Bill makes it easier for trans men and women to get a GRC and goes some way to improving the current system. It does this by:
What’s not good about the Bill
There are some areas of the Bill that we believe do not go far enough. There are:
What is the LGBTYS position on the Bill
We know this Bill is not good enough, particularly because it excludes non-binary and younger trans people.
However, we welcome this Bill as we believe it is still a significant step forward for trans rights and believe the alternative (not having the Bill pass) will be damaging to trans rights in Scotland. Our focus over the next year will be supporting the Bill and looking for ways to improve it through the parliamentary process. We will also aim to ensure that no further “compromises” are made to a Bill that already does not go far enough.
As the Bill goes through parliament, LGBTYS and the Trans Rights Youth Commission will be working to gain support for the Bill. We want to centre trans (including non-binary) young peoples’ voices throughout this process so will be creating ways for you to get involved in the process.
What can you do?