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NHS Consultation Event

Live in NHS Grampian or NHS Highland? Come and share your views on improving NHS provision for trans people. Discuss the information resources and expanded protocol details currently being worked on by the National Gender Identity Clinical Network for Scotland. Travel expenses provided. More info.

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WPATH Issues Statement on Legal Gender Recognition

On 19 January, 2015 the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) issued a statement asserting its position regarding legal gender recognition.

Significantly, WPATH stated:

  • “No particular medical, surgical, or mental health treatment or diagnosis is an adequate marker for anyone’s gender identity, so these should not be requirements for legal gender change.”
  • “WPATH Standard of Care 7 recognizes that there is a spectrum of gender identities, and that choices of identity limited to Male or Female may be inadequate to reflect all gender identities; an option of X or Other (as examples) may be advisable.”
  • “Marital status and parental status should not affect legal recognition of gender change. . .”
  • “. . . appropriate legal gender recognition should be available to transgender youth.”
  • ” . . . urges governments to eliminate unnecessary barriers, and to institute simple and accessible administrative procedures for transgender people to obtain legal recognition of gender, consonant with each individual’s identity. . . “

The Scottish Transgender Alliance welcomes that WPATH, long regarded as the world’s foremost authority on the medical treatment of transgender people, has clearly stated that legal recognition should be completely separate from the medical processes and not contingent on any diagnosis.  We are also pleased that they support access to legal gender recognition for transgender young people, and for the inclusion of a non-binary option.

These statements clearly align with the calls of our Equal Recognition campaign.  It is good to see that our campaign is consistent not only with international trans human rights activism, but also with the views of leading medical gender specialists.

The full text of the WPATH statement can be read here. WPATH Statement on Legal Recognition of Gender Identity 1-19-15

I can wake up as male or female. Or neither: Young Scot raises awareness of non-binary gender identity

  • By Jenny Morrison of the The Sunday Mail

 

DREW O’Donnell can live with a different gender each day and wants to raise awareness of leading a non-binary life.

 

Drew on a gender neutral day.

Drew on a gender neutral day.

DREW O’DONNELL prefers to be referred to as “they” and not as “he” or “she” because when they wake up in the morning, they never know whether they will feel male, female or gender-neutral.

Born male, Drew grew up wrongly believing they were what they describe as a “very camp gay man”.

At the age of 22, Drew was empowered to realise they were neither male nor female – but belonged to a group of people who describe themselves as non-binary.

Drew’s family and friends have come to accept that one day they may live as a man, while the next day they may feel much more like a woman and choose to wear make-up, dress in more feminine clothes and even speak with a much more feminine voice.

Drew as a male.

Drew as a male.

While Drew says being classed as non-binary falls under the transgender umbrella, they don’t feel trapped in the wrong body and don’t cross-dress.

And while Drew says they know many people may find their ever-changing gender difficult to understand, they say people need to learn to be more understanding.

Drew, 23, of Paisley, said: “I’ve been told there are 37 different types of gender – a lot more than simply male and female.

“Even I can’t remember them all but when people ask me about it, I try to explain to them that sex and gender are two different things.

“The singer Cher has a transgender son who said, ‘Gender is between your ears, not between your legs’ and for me that describes it well. Gender is what you feel – and sometimes I might feel two thirds male and only one third female while the next day, I might feel two thirds female and only one third male.

“Some days I feel absolutely gender neutral – neither more male nor more female and that is totally fine too. I have three genders – the more feminine me, the more masculine me and the gender neutral me – but I am still the same one person.

“When I am feeling more feminine I will wear more feminine clothes – not skirts or dresses but clothes that have a more feminine than masculine look to them.

“I will wear make-up – I like eye shadow, eye liner and nail polish. And I have even coached my voice to sound more feminine.

“On days where I feel more masculine, my clothes are much more boyish and I won’t wear make-up. On gender neutral days, I’m somewhere in the middle.”

Drew doesn’t consciously decide what their gender will be on any given day – their body decides for them.

An example of how Drew might dress on a day they feel more feminine.

An example of how Drew might dress on a day they feel more feminine.

Drew said: “I believe I have a hormone imbalance that affects how I feel gender- wise. I’ve been considering going to the doctor to have my hormones investigated, as I suffer from hot flushes which most males don’t experience – but women going through hormonal changes do.”

Drew says they first realised they were gay around the age of 14. But they didn’t tell anyone how they felt until they had left school and started college.

Drew, who is the transgender representative for Scotland’s National Union of Students, said: “When I was growing up, I was always very feminine – I played with girls rather than boys and I preferred girls’ toys. Up until about 13, I did have girlfriends but by 14, I knew I was more attracted to boys. I finally told my mum and friends I was gay when I was 18 and none of them were surprised. They all told me they had known I was gay for a long time.”

From age 18, Drew dated a number of gay men but admits they are attracted to both males and females. It was another four years before they discovered what it meant to have non-binary gender.

Drew said: “Two friends were talking about being gender neutral or non-binary themselves. As they explained there were more than two genders out there, I started to realise that was me. I realised it was ok for me to accept when my body is telling me I’m female and when it’s telling me I’m male.

“You don’t have to choose one gender. Identifying as non-binary is easier for me.”

Drew, whose dad died several years ago, said their mum Fiona was deeply supportive of their decision.

Drew said: “She’s been great. When people ask her about her son, she explains I am not her son any more but I’m non-binary”

Drew, who is looking for work, says when applying for jobs they prefer to leave blank the box asking their sex.

Drew, who was chosen as a baton bearer in the Commonwealth Games for being a volunteer with several local charities, said: “There are times when I have ticked the male box or the female box – but usually I try to leave it blank.”

Drew accepts they have to use male changing rooms and toilets but wants to see more gender-neutral facilities.

Drew said: “The best way to deal with transphobia is through education. The top tip I would give is don’t just jump to conclusions about whether someone is male of female. Don’t ask them what their gender is – ask them politely what pronoun they are. This shows you respect who they are as a person.”

Drew is currently organising the National Union of Students first Scottish trans-gathering, for all students who identify as transgender, being held in Edinburgh in February.

Drew is also supporting the Scottish Government’s “One Scotland’ Campaign, which aims to promote equality and celebrate diversity in Scotland.

 

FRA Releases ‘Being Trans in the European Union’ Report

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has launched a ground-breaking report ‘Being Trans in the European Union‘. The report points to how trans people experience frequent discrimination and harassment, and draws upon the responses to FRA’s wider EU LGBT survey.

Becky Kent, Scottish Transgender Alliance Research Associate has examined the report and has pulled out the information related to the experiences of trans people in the UK.  We welcome the report as it is the most comprehensive report of trans experiences in Europe published to date.  More than 800 trans people from the UK were among the survey’s 6,579 trans respondents, giving us a good view of the current status of trans people in the UK.

The survey’s most striking result is the high level of repetitive violence and hate-motivated crime trans persons suffer.

The report highlights the serious problem that still remains for trans people experiencing hate-motivated crimes and harassment. 12% of UK trans people have experienced hate-motivated violence and crime in the 12 months preceding the survey as compared to the EU average of only 8%, and 37% of the UK respondents faced hate-motivated harassment in the 12 months preceding the survey.

Sadly, the UK trails only Ireland and Lithuania in the rate of hate-motivated violence and crime suffered by trans people, and is significantly worse than the European average.  This shows that we still have a long way to go in making the UK a consistently safe place for trans people to live and work.

The report also looked at trans people’s experiences in employment, education and when accessing health care.

In health care 53% of trans people feel they can be open about being trans to their health care providers which is significantly better that the EU average of 35%. 96% are also aware that gender reassignment services are available.  On the down side 26% report being discriminated against when accessing health care in the previous 12 months.

In schools, 47% report that the atmosphere in their school or university is negative toward LGBT people and 22% report being discriminated against for being trans in the previous 12 months.  In employment 40% of the trans respondents in the UK report being discriminated against when seeking work in the previous year and another 31% have been discriminated against on the job during the previous 5 years.

These figures continue to show that there needs to be improvement in awareness and understanding of trans people throughout UK society.  It is especially disappointing to see that these results point to schools remaining an unwelcome place for LGBT people.  A closer look at the report also shows that these problems are significantly greater for those people who have a non-binary gender identity.  We need to work harder to help society to understand and accept those who identify as neither male nor female.

We have recently launched the Equal Recognition  campaign in which we are calling for legal recognition non-binary people who do not identify as either male or female.  We see this as an important step in improving the experiences of non-binary people in Scotland.

National Gender Identity Clinical Network launched

The National Gender Identity Clinical Network for Scotland (NGICNS) was launched in Glasgow yesterday (3 December 2014) at an event providing trans people with an opportunity to learn more about the Network, and enabling clinicians to hear trans people’s priorities for change.

In 2007 the Scottish Transgender Alliance identified, through community feedback, that there was an enormous disparity, like a postcode lottery, from one health board to another in terms of the gender reassignment services that were provided. It caused immense problems and significant distress to trans people across Scotland.

As a result of intense lobbying the Scottish government implemented the Gender Reassignment Protocol. In 2012 we pushed for the creation of the Network to ensure the national protocol is implemented equally across all Scottish health boards.

The creation of the Network is a major step forward and an opportunity to improve services and provide greater transparency in how assessments are carried out and decisions made about service provision. It will itself aim to be transparent and empower trans people and NHS professionals working in Scotland. This will be achieved in part by the Network steering group, the members of which will provide expert guidance and information about how services are working on the ground.

It is hoped that NGICNS will also be able to raise issues with the NHS, such as the lack of capacity gender identity services are currently experiencing, and advocate for changes which will improve the patient experience.

The Network has the potential to help shape a gender identity service which is joined up, transparent, effective, equitable, and responsive to the needs of those it serves. For our part we look forward to working with NGICNS to try and achieve just that.

Denmark Leads Europe on Gender Recognition

The Danish Parliament has passed the most progressive gender recognition legislation in Danish FlagEurope. The new law will enable people to have the gender they identify as legally recognised without any requirement for them to have a diagnosis or have undergone medical treatment.

Unfortunately applicants will have to be at least 18 years old to access gender recognition but the only other requirement is a six month waiting period between making an application and receiving gender recognition.

It is very encouraging to see European gender recognition legislation which much more closely matches Transgender Europe’s best practice check-list. Malta currently has a similar law progressing through Parliament.

Argentina continues to have the world’s most progressive gender recognition law, it doesn’t have a waiting period and enables people under 16 to have their gender recognised with additional requirements.

 

Success – Scotland removes spousal veto from equal marriage bill

In a major step forward for trans equality in Scotland, the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee today passed an amendment to the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill removing the spousal veto on gender recognition.

The amendment, which was proposed by the Equality Network and Scottish Transgender Alliance, and submitted by Linda Fabiani MSP, means trans people who married in Scotland will be able to have their gender legally recognized without having to get the consent of their spouse.

Without the amendment Scotland’s equal marriage bill would not have delivered genuine marriage equality for trans people. The spousal veto would have enabled the husband or wife of a trans person to deny their partner the right to have the gender they live as recognized in law.

This aspect of the Bill rightly attracted a great deal of criticism from trans people who felt it undermined their personal autonomy.

It is our strong view that legal gender recognition is a human right that should not be able to be vetoed by another person.

Many spouses of trans people were also greatly opposed to the spousal veto and objected to the suggestion they should have control over a fundamental aspect of their partner’s identity.

We have worked hard to ensure our amendment to the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill achieves a fair balance of rights between the trans and non-trans spouse.

Previously as well as having the right to an non-contestable divorce, the non-trans spouse was also able to block their partner’s gender recognition. The Bill now redresses this balance by ensuring the trans spouse can obtain gender recognition while continuing to provide their partner with the right to get a divorce if they are not happy staying in the marriage.

As transgender equality is developing across Europe an increasing number of countries are removing divorce requirements from their laws and treating gender recognition as a purely individualized process.

Of the 10 European Countries who have introduced same sex marriage none, apart from England and Wales, have a spousal veto on gender recognition.

We are delighted the Scottish Parliament has taken this opportunity to develop our laws in line with best practice and maintain Scotland’s reputation as a leader on trans equality. Because gender recognition is provided by the UK-wide Gender Recognition Panel (GRP) the Scottish Parliament cannot enact legislation which would change their procedures. If the Bill passes, trans people married in Scotland will therefore continue to apply to the GRP and, if they don’t have the consent of their spouse, will be given an interim gender recognition certificate. Our amendment will then enable them to apply to the Sheriff Court, using a straightforward administrative procedure, and receive full gender recognition.

Since we launched the Equal Marriage campaign in 2008, the Equality Network and Scottish Transgender Alliance have always been determined for trans equality to be an integral part of Scotland’s equal marriage legislation – not an afterthought. We have been eager for the Bill to be well considered and meet the needs of all LGBT people. The success of this amendment means the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill was worth waiting for – Scotland can now proudly say that it is set to introduce equal marriage.

No Spousal Veto in Scotland

Five Amendments to Secure Equal Marriage

Image of front cover of STA booklet Five Amendments to Secure Equal Marriage

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill is an historic step forward for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality in Scotland.  It has the potential to deliver equal partnership rights for trans and intersex people.  However, we have identified five improvements that need to be made in order to ensure that it does. We have therefore proposed five amendments to the Bill.  The Equal Opportunities Committee has made recommendations relating to these amendments and we hope that the Scottish Parliament will vote to support them.

To find out more about our five proposed amendments, please read our briefing.

Image highlighting five amendments are needed to secure equal marriage.

Scottish Parliament Committee recommends approval of equal marriage bill

We are very happy to report that the Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee has recommended that the Parliament approves the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill at stage 1. The recommendation is in the Committee’s stage 1 report to the Parliament.

[Read more…]

New Fee Structure for Gender Recognition Panel

The Ministry of Justice is bringing in a new fee system for all tribunals including the Gender Recognition Panel. Despite our own consultation response, and that of other organisations, stating that a single system for all tribunals would have a disproportionately adverse effect on certain applicants, including trans people, the UK Government has decided to go ahead with the proposals.

If you are planning to apply for gender recognition you may wish to consider doing so before the new system comes into place on Monday 7th October.

The new system will work as follows:

Disposable Capital Test

  • This first test assesses the applicant’s disposable capital e.g. savings, investments, second homes etc
  • If an applicant has £3000 or more of disposable capital they will be required to pay the full fee – currently £140 (although this may change when this system comes into force)
  • If an applicant has under £3000 of disposable capital they will move onto the Gross Monthly Income Test

Gross Monthly Income Test

  • This second test assesses the applicant’s gross monthly income i.e. their monthly income before tax from all sources except excluded benefits
  • If an applicant’s income is below the threshold set out in the table below they will not have to pay a fee

Table

  • If an applicant’s income is over the relevant threshold set out in the table above they will be required to make a contribution towards their fee of £5 for each additional £10 income above the threshold, up to the value of the fee e.g. if an applicant has an income of £1185, an additional £100 over the relevant threshold, they will be required to pay £50 towards the fee