Gender Recognition Act 2004 in Scotland

What does Scotland think about gender recognition?

The Scottish Government have released an update following their recent consultation on the Gender Recognition Act 2004 which closed in March 2018. The letter published on their website includes a brief analysis of the results to some of the key questions posed to the public. Gender recognition is a devolved area of law in Scotland and reforms to the GRA 2004 are an ongoing conversation in both Westminster and Holyrood.

The first results from the consultation are positive and suggest that a significant number of people are in favour of making gender recognition less restrictive, to include young trans people under 18 and non-binary people.

Over fifteen and a half thousand responses were received, including submissions from 162 organisations covering a wide range of interests from trans and wider LGBTQ community groups, women’s groups and religious bodies. Excitingly, a majority of people who responded supported the Scottish Government’s proposal of a demedicalised model of gender recognition that does not rely on the approval of a panel of “experts”.

Under this model, Scotland would introduce reforms similar to those seen in Ireland and Canada where people do not need evidence from a medical professional to change their legal gender. The model that we would be most likely to see in the UK would be statutory declaration, where people would sign a legal document in front of a witness such as a solicitor.

There was also an encouraging result for young people aged 16 and 17. A majority of submissions agreed that these young people who are old enough to marry, join the army and vote in Scotland, should also be able to change their legal gender.

For children up to the age of 16, less than a third of respondents said they should remain excluded from being able to have their legal gender changed, with this figure rising to just over a third for children under the age of 12. Almost a quarter of people thought a capable child under 16 should be able to apply to change their gender and a similar number of people thought children should be able to apply with parental agreement.

Finally, almost two thirds of respondents agreed that non-binary people deserve legal recognition in Scotland. This would also mirror reforms seen in places such as in Australia, New Zealand and parts of the USA. A similar figure also thought the Equality Act 2010 should be amended to include all non-binary people in its protections against discrimination. Currently, the protected characteristic is ‘gender reassignment’, not gender identity, which was written to cover people undergoing a medical pathway of transition and is therefore not inclusive of all trans people.

The results of the Scottish consultation are an encouraging indicator that there is an appetite to reform laws to better include trans and non-binary people in parts of the UK. 14 years ago, the GRA 2004 was one of the most progressive pieces of legislation for trans people in the world. The results from this consultation show that spirit of inclusion is still alive and that change is possible.

There are only a few weeks until the English consultation closes. It is so important that trans people, their families and their friends make sure their voices are heard. We have a once in a generation opportunity to make legal gender recognition easier, more affordable and demedicalise the process.

If you haven’t yet submitted a response but are finding the process a little confusing, we will be running a drop in on the 6th October where you can fill out the consultation with support from our staff and volunteers. We also have online guidance to help you respond to the key questions.

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One month left to take part in the Government’s GRA consultation

Copy of GRA Drop in Twitter

There is a month left before the Government’s consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004 closes.

It is so important that trans people, their families and their friends make sure their voices are heard. We have a once in a generation opportunity to make legal gender recognition easier, more affordable and demedicalise the process. 

The GRA was the first piece of law in the UK allowing trans people to change their legal gender and their birth certificate by applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate. It was a groundbreaking piece of legislation 14 years ago but now we’ve started to fall behind other countries. The process here is long, expensive and requires evidence from two medical professionals. What’s more, it excludes those under 18 and non-binary people.

Ireland recently passed a law allowing trans people to self-identify their gender. Many trans people and organisations are campaigning for a similar process for the UK, where people can sign a statutory declaration, which is like a more official deed poll that has to be signed in front of a witnessing solicitor.

The consultation document is quite long and can be confusing. It’s also easier to access online, which can be difficult if you’re not the best with technology! To make sure everyone gets the chance to have their say, Gendered Intelligence are running two GRA workshops on 15th September  and 6th October, from 12 noon to 6pm. All trans people and allies are welcome to come along to these drop in sessions.

We’ll also be running workshops in our youth groups this month so that our incredible young people can comment on a process that will have a huge impact on their future.

For the Saturday drop ins, we’ll have staff and volunteers available to explain the wording of the questions and to act as a soundboard for your ideas.

We’ll have a number of computers available for people to use, along with paper copies of the form that we can post back to the Government for you. But if you’re coming and have a laptop, it would be helpful if you could bring that along with you. There’ll also be snacks and teas and coffees available to sustain you while you’re deep in thought!

In our youth groups, Cara, our Policy Engagement Officer, will give a short presentation on what the GRA is, what it means and what we have been doing as an organisation through the whole process. Then we’ll have a discussion about some of the issues which will also give our young people the opportunity to ask more detailed questions.

This is a great opportunity for us to hear thoughts from more members of the community, including our young people. This will help inform our responses, ensuring we’re properly representing our community and working for the best outcome for everyone!

We’ll be hosting the Saturday workshops in Central London and you can book a slot to come along here: https://gra-dropin.eventbrite.co.uk