Hide me!

Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee publishes summary about Trans Equality

The Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee have published a short report about trans equality. The report summarises the evidence given by the Scottish Transgender Alliance to the Committee on February 4th, as well as looking at some other things, such as:

  • Whether the Gender Recognition Act is reserved or devolved
  • The history and development of the Gender Recognition Act in the UK
  • Our Equal Recognition campaign – the three calls, and the evidence that we gave to support the calls
  • Some of the recommendations from the UK Parliament’s Women and Equalities Select Committee report into trans equality
  • The Equality Act
  • Other countries that currently have gender recognition legislation that partially or totally reflect the calls of the Equal Recognition campaign

The STA at Glasgow Pride

This Saturday, 22nd August, the STA, Equality Network, and lots of our lovely volunteers lead the Pride march through Glasgow to call for trans rights now. The day started pretty early for us as we arrived in Glasgow at 9 to set up our stalls on the Green, and decorated the float with an assortment of rainbow balloons, placards, banners, and a bunch of bubble guns to fire on the way round!

pride photo 1

After hearing some speeches from our float at the start point of the march (there was a focus on the legal rights that are still unavailable for some in the trans community, the need to make our LGBTI activism global and inclusive, and the specific problems around trans healthcare) we took to the streets to spread our message of trans rights now! The parade was so much fun – we danced our way around central Glasgow and had loads of people watching and waving. It was an amazing opportunity to get to call for trans equality at an event not only attended by many from the LGBTI community, but also watched by hundreds more, who may not be aware of or think about the discrimination that continues to be faced by almost all LGBTI people. We got to be ourselves, have fun, spread our message, and be proud!

After the march, we did the speediest clearing of the float we could, and headed in to the stalls. From ER stall picthere we had a hectic day where we were visited by tonnes of people, some of whom had never heard of us and some more familiar faces! We managed to run out of Equal Recognition postcards as so many people signed up on the day to our call for equality for all trans people. The people signing up were all different ages, cis and trans, knew nothing about it or knew everything about it… it was a really great feeling to know that our call for equality was being heard and that so many people want to support us with it.

So we spent the afternoon chatting with people and letting them know what we do and what we’re working on at the minute and it was loads of fun – everyone was really friendly and it was a great chance to let people know who we are and what we stand for. We gave out lots of info, sold a bunch of trans pride badges, and heard stories from people about how being trans affects their lives. Some people were talking about all of the positive changes in the last few years and how they feel more able to be themselves, whether that’s at work, at home, or popping to the shops. Some people though were telling us about the problems they continue to face due to being trans – discrimination, stereotyping, and a lack of respect. Which is why we all need to keep working hard to make our voices heard and make sure that trans people have the same rights as everyone else, and hopefully we’ll hear less and less of these stories with each new Pride.

At 6 o’clock it was time to pack up and head home, so after carrying many many boxes back to the van (thank you so much to our volunteers for helping!) that was us done! Thank you so much to everyone who was there, who volunteered with us, or who came and said hello – the day wouldn’t have been the same without you.

Launch of a UK wide non-binary survey

The Scottish Transgender Alliance is today launching a UK wide survey for all non-binary people, defined as those:

“identifying as either having a gender which is in-between or beyond the two categories ‘man’ and ‘woman’, as fluctuating between ‘man’ and ‘woman’, or as having no gender, either permanently or some of the time”.

It asks questions on three main subjects: experiences of using services, views on legal gender recognition, and experiences in employment.

The survey will be used to give us a clearer picture of some of the issues being faced by non-binary people in the UK today, and to provide us with real evidence to use in our campaigning and lobbying around improving the rights of all trans people. At the moment, there is little existing literature on some of the specific issues faced by non-binary people beyond what we hear anecdotally from the community – and this is a great opportunity to change that.

If you would like to take the survey, you can do so at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/nonbinarysurvey

The survey should take around 30 minutes to complete. It will be open for 8 weeks, closing on Tuesday 15th September.

If you have any questions about the survey or would like to request it in a different format, please do get in touch with Vic Valentine by emailing vic@equality-network.org or calling the office on 0131 467 6039

Ask your MSPs to support gender X passports for people who do not identify as men or women

We’re delighted that Alison Johnstone MSP has submitted the following motion in the Scottish Parliament supporting non-gendered passports for non-binary people:

Motion S4M-12970: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 21/04/2015
Passports for People who do not Associate with a Particular Gender
That the Parliament recognises that the UK Parliament’s early day motion number 47 relating to the provision of passports to people who do not associate with a particular gender, accumulated 80 signatures; understands the importance to transgender people who are non-binary, and therefore do not identify as male or female, of having passports that reflect their true identity; notes that non-binary people have called on the Labour and Conservative parties to comment on this issue in their manifestos; recognises that a number of other jurisdictions, including Australia and New Zealand, provide their citizens with passports bearing a gender marker other than M or F; believes that, like other trans people, non-binary people have the right to have their gender identity recognised and should therefore be able to obtain passports that reflect the fact that they do not identify as male or female, and urges the next UK Government to consider whether an additional gender marker should be made available on British passports.

Several MSPs have already signed as supporting the motion. It’s really important to raise visibility of non-binary issues so please send a quick email to your local MSPs asking them to sign in support (you can find their contact details at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/msps.aspx).

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.

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

 

Contracts for the Provision of Gender Reassignment Surgical Services Announced

We are very pleased that the contracts providing for gender reassignment surgery to trans people in Scotland have been awarded.  [Read more…]