Hide me!

Search Results for: Gender dysphoria

Gender variance

The Scottish Transgender Alliance views gender variance as simply one aspect of the wide range of human diversity which ensures that human societies are interesting, innovative and strong.  We believe that societies function best when all their members have their unique skills, personalities and perspectives valued and supported by each other.  We want Scottish society to recognise that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with gender variance and to value transgender people simply being themselves.

Our cultural assumptions and stereotypes about gender are based on averages not universals.  For example, the average height for a woman is shorter than the average height for a man but this does not mean there is anything wrong with being a taller than average woman or a shorter than average man.  When an individual man’s height is compared with an individual woman’s height, either one of them may turn out to be the taller person.  Just because on more occasions it will be the man who is taller than the woman does not mean there should be any panic on those occasions when the woman is taller than the man.  Our hope is that other gender variance will become viewed in a similar non-pathological manner.

A person who finds that current gender stereotypes and averages do not fit with their individual gender identity and gender expression is simply varying from the average.  They are not wrong or ill or disturbed.  Provided that they are personally happy with their life then no change is necessary in regard to their gender variance. Someone’s gender variance is not harmful to others; instead it can be helpful for society as it can provide greater originality and reveal otherwise unrecognised gender-based discrimination.

For this reason, the Scottish Transgender Alliance never uses the term Gender Identity Disorder. We are of the view that nobody should have such an innate part of themselves as their personal gender identity described as disordered simply because it differs from average expectations.  However, the Scottish Transgender Alliance does use the term Gender Dysphoria.

Gender Dysphoria is a recognised medical issue for which gender reassignment treatment is available on the National Health Service in Scotland.  Gender dysphoria is when someone experiences significant and long-standing distress, unhappiness and/or discomfort about their physical body not fully matching their gender identity.  Transsexual people usually experience intense gender dysphoria which is significantly reduced or even eliminated by transitioning to live as their self-identified gender and by taking hormones and perhaps getting surgery to make their physical bodies match their gender identity and gender expression better.  Other types of transgender people may also experience various degrees of gender dysphoria, especially when unable socially to fully express their gender identity.

The Scottish Transgender Alliance considers it to be essential to recognise that experiencing gender dysphoria does not mean that there is anything wrong with a person’s gender identity.  It merely means that the person is experiencing a personally distressing disparity between their gender identity and the gender-related characteristics of their physical body.  Throughout medical history, attempts to alter someone’s inherent gender identity have proven futile and such attempts have often caused intense psychological suffering to people because a person’s gender identity is such a fundamental part of who they are.  The method of relieving gender dysphoria which has proven successful is to modify the gender-related characteristics of the person’s physical appearance so that their appearance better reflects their gender identity enabling them to more easily live as their self-identified gender.

Once a person has been able to modify their physical appearance through hormones and/or surgery and is able to live their life fully in accordance with their gender identity, they will usually no longer experience gender dysphoria.  Therefore, the aim of NHS treatment with hormones and possibly surgery is to reduce and ideally eliminate the patient’s gender dysphoria.

If someone has only mild or intermittent feelings of gender dysphoria then usually hormonal and surgical interventions will not be necessary.  Instead their mild gender dysphoria may be able to be relieved simply by presenting an appearance more reflective of their gender variance through their use of clothing, hairstyles and accessories and also spending some of their social time with friends who are supportive of gender diversity.

The Scottish Transgender Alliance recognises that being gender variant does not mean that someone will necessarily experience any gender dysphoria.  A person may have a gender identity or gender expression which others feel does not match with that person’s physical body. However, so long as that person themselves feels content with their physical body in relation to their gender identity and does not experience distress or discomfort about it, then they do not have gender dysphoria and should not be pressurised to undergo any hormonal or surgical treatment.

Our successful Spousal Veto removal – amendments 68, 70 & 72

Amendments 68, 70 and 72 to remove the Spousal Veto were designed by the Scottish Transgender Alliance and the Equality Network and submitted by Linda Fabiani MSP to the Scottish Parliament’s Equal Opportunities Committee Stage 2 Debate on the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill. The Committee approved amendments 68, 70 and 72 unanimously on 16 January 2014.

68       In schedule 2, page 41, line 20, at end insert—

<4E          Married person with interim certificate: issue of full certificate on application to the sheriff (Scotland)

(1)     A person may make a summary application to the sheriff for the issue of a full gender recognition certificate where—

(a)   an interim gender recognition certificate has been issued to the person, and

(b)   the person is a party to a protected Scottish marriage.

(2)     The sheriff must grant an application made under subsection (1) if the sheriff is satisfied that—

(a)   the applicant was a party to a protected Scottish marriage at the time when the interim gender recognition certificate was issued,

(b)   the applicant is still a party to that protected Scottish marriage, and

(c)   the application was made within the period of six months beginning with the day on which the interim gender recognition certificate was issued.

(3)     If an application is made under this section, the sheriff must give the applicant’s spouse—

(a)   notice of the application, and

(b)   if the sheriff grants the application, notice of the issue of the full gender recognition certificate.

(4)     For the avoidance of doubt, where an application has been granted under subsection (2), the applicant is to be treated for the purposes of section 1(1)(b) of the Divorce (Scotland) Act 1976 as a person to whom an interim gender recognition certificate has been issued.”.>

70       In schedule 2, page 42, line 37, at end insert—

<(  )     Regulations under sub-paragraph (1)(a) must provide that where a full gender recognition certificate has been issued to a person under section 4E, the marriage must not be registered unless the person’s spouse consents in writing to that registration in the form prescribed by the regulations.>

72       In schedule 2, page 43, line 11, leave out <or 4C> and insert <, 4C or 4E>

 

Purpose of the amendments

Amendment 68

Amendment 68 is the main amendment – it allows a married trans person, to whom an interim gender recognition certificate (GRC) has been issued by the UK Gender Recognition Panel, to convert it to a full gender recognition certificate by applying to the sheriff. (An interim certificate has no effect on the person’s gender; only a full certificate grants gender recognition.)

The procedure for obtaining a full GRC will start with the married trans person applying to the Gender Recognition Panel in the usual way. They can apply without their spouse’s written consent, and will then receive an interim certificate, which they then send to their local sheriff court, for conversion to a full certificate. That conversion is an administrative process, not a judicial process – so long as the person is in a Scottish marriage and the application is made within six months of the issue of the interim certificate, the full certificate must be issued to them.

The amendment requires that the sheriff must notify the applicant’s spouse of the application to convert the interim certificate to full, and also of the granting of the application. This enables the spouse to start divorce proceedings on grounds of the issue of the interim certificate, if they wish to. The spouse will continue to have the right to a divorce on grounds of gender recognition, at any time in the future, and such a divorce is non-contestable by the trans spouse.

There are two practical reasons for having the conversion from interim to full certificate done by the sheriff (rather than have the Gender Recognition Panel directly issue the full certificate):

  • The Gender Recognition Panel operates on a UK-wide basis, and is funded solely by the UK Government. The amendment therefore avoids making any changes to the rules operated by the Panel, so that the Panel’s procedures remain consistent across the UK. If a married trans person applies to the Panel without their spouse’s written consent, they will get an interim certificate, in all parts of the UK, but in Scotland they will be able to exchange this for a full certificate. The amendment is a specifically Scottish solution to the problem.
  • The sheriff court already converts interim to full certificates when it grants a divorce on grounds of interim certificate, so the sheriff court is the obvious body to provide the conversion from interim to full in this alternative case also.

The administrative conversion procedure by the court does not involve any judicial discretion – so long as the basic conditions are met, the conversion from interim to full certificate is made. This is because it is important that the process is an administrative one, rather than an adversarial process setting the two spouses against each other. There are other cases where legislation requires the sheriff to act without judicial discretion, so this is not particularly unusual.

Details of amendment 68

The amendment inserts a new section 4E into the Gender Recognition Act, to provide for a full gender recognition certificate to be issued by the sheriff to a married person to whom an interim certificate has been issued by the Gender Recognition Panel.

Subsection (1) of new section 4E provides that a person who is party to a protected Scottish marriage (as defined elsewhere in the bill – it simply means a marriage solemnised under Scots law), and who has an interim gender recognition certificate (GRC), can make a summary application to the sheriff for a full gender recognition certificate.

Subsection (2) states that the sheriff must grant the application if the applicant was a party to a protected Scottish marriage when they obtained the interim GRC and remains so, and the application is made within 6 months of the interim GRC having been issued.

The sheriff is not given any discretion in this matter because it is intended to be an administrative procedure. The role of the sheriff is to ensure that the conditions for making an application have been met and to issue the full GRC. This is similar to the situation where the sheriff grants decree in divorce proceedings brought on grounds of interim gender recognition – the sheriff similarly has no discretion as to whether to issue a full GRC to the trans party to the proceedings; if the divorce is granted, the full GRC must be issued.

Subsection (3) imposes a requirement on the sheriff to notify the applicant’s spouse that an application has been made, and also to notify them of the granting of the application.

Subsection (4) puts beyond doubt that, even after the full GRC has been issued, either party to the marriage can continue to use the fact that an interim GRC was previously issued as grounds for a non-contestable divorce.

Amendment 70

Amendment 70 provides that, where a full gender recognition certificate has been issued to a married trans person under the procedure in amendment 68, the marriage cannot be re-registered, and a new marriage certificate issued, unless the trans person’s spouse consents to that. The details will be specified in regulations made under new paragraph 20A of schedule 3 to the Gender Recognition Act, inserted by para 8(2)(c) of schedule 2 to the bill.

This achieves a fair balance of rights between the trans and non-trans spouse: amendment 68 allows the trans spouse to obtain gender recognition, which legally changes their gender, but under amendment 70 they would need their spouse’s consent for the issue of a new marriage certificate showing the marriage between them as a same-sex marriage.

Amendment 72

Amendment 72 ensures that the continuity of the marriage is not affected by the issue of the full GRC under amendment 68. Together with the rules on pensions in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, this will ensure that neither spouse loses any of their marriage-related rights when the full GRC is issued.

Rationale for the amendments

We are strongly of the view that spousal consent for gender recognition is unnecessary. We agree that the correct balance between the rights of the trans and non-trans spouse has not been struck in the bill as it stands – these amendments correct the balance.

As the Committee heard at stage 1, the bill as it stands allows the spouse of a trans person effectively to “veto” the person’s gender recognition, by withholding the written consent that is needed for the Gender Recognition Panel to issue a full gender recognition certificate. Without that consent, the Panel can only issue an interim certificate, which has no legal effect on the trans person’s gender.

Many trans people and their allies are very concerned about this. The spousal consent requirement in the England and Wales Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 generated a great deal of criticism from trans people, and has led to many feeling deeply unhappy with that legislation. We are unaware of any spouses of trans people who feel strongly that their consent should be sought prior to their spouse obtaining gender recognition. On the contrary, partners of trans people who have contacted us oppose the consent requirement, which they see as contrary to their partner’s rights.

By the time the trans person applies for gender recognition, they have already been living full-time in their acquired gender for at least two years. They may have had hormone and/or surgical treatment. The law does not require them to obtain their spouse’s consent for any of those changes. Obtaining legal gender recognition is the last step – the legal recognition of the life changes that have already happened. Unlike the earlier steps, legal gender recognition does not change the practical nature of the marriage.

Our strong view is that the fact that the trans person is issued with gender recognition causes no actual detriment to the non-trans spouse. Conversely, the trans spouse can suffer a great deal of discrimination and other practical detriment while their birth certificate does not reflect the gender they live as. As the European Court of Human Rights found in Goodwin v UK, legal gender recognition is a human right. This should not be contingent on the consent of another person.

The amendments ensure that the human rights of the non-trans spouse are protected in a number of ways. Firstly, their inheritance, pension, parental, and all other rights remain the same, because the bill and the amendments provide that the continuity of the marriage is not affected by gender recognition.

Secondly, the amendments provide that the marriage cannot be re-registered, and no new marriage certificate can be issued, without the consent of the non-trans spouse.

Thirdly, as the committee identified, if the non-trans spouse reaches the decision that they no longer wish to remain in the marriage, they have the non-contestable right to a divorce. The amendments impose a duty on the sheriff to notify the non-trans spouse of the application for the full gender recognition certificate, and then of the granting of the certificate, so that the spouse can make an informed decision about this. There is no time pressure on them; they can take as long as they want to decide whether or not to apply for a divorce.

Of the nine European countries with same sex marriage – Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Norway and France – not one requires spousal consent to be obtained for gender recognition. None of these countries has been subject to an ECHR challenge for failing to protect the rights of the non-transitioning spouse. It is more likely that the bill would be challenged for infringing the rights of the trans spouse, if it passed with the spousal “veto” still in place.

It is also important also to note that many of those countries have recently faced human rights based challenges to their legal gender recognition processes, because they imposed a requirement to divorce before gender recognition could be granted. As a result, the divorce requirements have simply been removed, but without imposing a requirement for spousal consent for gender recognition. No concerns regarding the human rights of the non-trans spouse have been raised.

As trans rights progress across Europe, more and more countries are treating gender recognition as a purely personal process and implementing simple administrative procedures for it to be expediently obtained. Introducing a process requiring the consent of the trans person’s spouse would be out of line with best practice, and would mean Scotland taking a step backward compared to others in Europe.

Equality organisations welcome Scottish Government consultation to improve the Gender Recognition Act

Leading LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) and women’s equality organisations in Scotland have today welcomed the launch of the Scottish Government’s consultation on improving the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

The LGBTI organisations welcoming the proposals are Scottish Trans Alliance, Equality Network, LGBT Youth Scotland and Stonewall Scotland.

Women’s organisations Close the Gap, Engender, Equate Scotland, Rape Crisis Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid and Zero Tolerance have jointly issued a statement of support for reform of the Gender Recognition Act.

The Scottish Government consultation paper launched today proposes to simplify how transgender people can change the gender on their birth certificates. It is proposed to bring the process for birth certificates in line with that for other identity documents such as passports. Trans people would need to complete a formal legal statutory declaration confirming the gender identity in which they live and their intention to do so permanently for the rest of their life. Passports, driving licences, medical records and employment records are already changed by self-declaration when a person starts living in their gender identity.

James Morton, Scottish Trans Alliance Manager, said:

“We welcome the Scottish Government’s proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act.  The current process to change the gender on a trans person’s birth certificate is a humiliating, offensive and expensive red-tape nightmare which requires them to submit intrusive psychiatric evidence to a faceless tribunal panel years after they transitioned. It makes sense for birth certificates to be brought into line with the self-declaration process already used to change all other identity documents when trans people start living in their gender identity.

Being able to change the gender on their birth certificate to match their other identity documents is important primarily to uphold trans people’s privacy and dignity but also to ensure that their pensions, insurance policies, civil partnerships and marriages are all administered correctly.

We urge the Scottish Government to also provide legal gender recognition for non-binary trans people so that all trans people can have equal inclusion and acceptance within Scottish society.”

Close the Gap, Engender, Equate Scotland, Rape Crisis Scotland, Scottish Women’s Aid and Zero Tolerance, jointly said:

“For over a decade, we have engaged in constructive dialogue with our colleagues in the Scottish Trans Alliance, Equality Network, LGBT Youth Scotland and Stonewall Scotland. We do not regard trans equality and women’s equality to be in competition or contradiction with each other. We support the Equal Recognition campaign and welcome the reform of the Gender Recognition Act. Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid in Scotland provide trans inclusive services on the basis of self identification. We will continue to work collaboratively with Scottish Trans Alliance and other equality organisations with the aim of ensuring that new processes are appropriately designed and without unintended consequences.”

Colin Macfarlane, Director of Stonewall Scotland, said:

“This reform is desperately needed as it’s time to move the legislation on from being a long complicated bureaucratic process, which treats being trans as a mental illness.  We believe a better Gender Recognition Act is a crucial next step in achieving equality for all trans people and will help reduce the discrimination and abuse that is all too prevalent in our society.”

The Scottish Government also propose to align the age a person can apply to change the gender on their birth certificate with the age of legal capacity in Scotland, which is 16. In Scotland, people can get married, leave school, have a child, vote and join the armed forces at the age of 16. The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland supports the age reduction.

Fergus McMillan, Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, said:

“LGBT Youth Scotland welcomes the Scottish Government proposals to reform gender recognition law in Scotland. We are working with young people through our youth commission on gender recognition, to bring their views and experiences to the forefront of the consultation. These reforms will allow all trans people, including trans young people, to live with dignity and equality.”

The Scottish Government consultation paper positively acknowledges the importance of respecting the lives of non-binary people who do not identify solely as men or women. It outlines a variety of possible actions that could assist non-binary people, from making small changes to administrative forms through to providing recognition of non-binary people in legislation and service provision.

At the Scottish LGBTI Hustings event during the 2016 Holyrood election campaign, Nicola Sturgeon was asked when she would recognise non-binary gender identities in law, and replied:

“I think we should, and I think we should do it in the next Parliament, and that’s one of the specific things I think we should look to take forward in terms of reviewing the gender recognition law. I think it is no longer, in this day and age, appropriate for people not to have their perfectly legitimate identity recognised legally.”

Vic Valentine, Scottish Trans Alliance Policy Officer, said:

“Reforming gender recognition law to include non-binary people would be a clear indication that our identities are seen as equally valid to those of men and women. This is a vital step towards creating a society in which non-binary people are truly recognised, and treated with dignity and respect in all aspects of our day-to-day lives.”

 

Photo of Angela Constance, and participants at launch of the Scottish Government's consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act. 9/11/2017

Launch of the Scottish Government’s consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act. 9/11/2017

ENDS

For further information, please contact James Morton, Scottish Trans Alliance Manager, on 07554 992626 or james@equality-network.org Quotes and photos from, and interviews with, transgender individuals can be provided.

LGBT Youth Scotland has set up a Youth Commission on Gender Recognition to bring young people’s views and experiences to the forefront of the consultation. Members of the group may be available to speak to the press. Contact: communications@lgbtyouth.org.uk

Notes to editors:

  1. The Scottish Government consultation paper on reforming the Gender Recognition Act can be found at: https://consult.gov.scot/family-law/review-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004/
  2. The Scottish women’s organisations support statement in full can be found at: http://equalrecognition.scot/supporters/gender-orgs-statement
  3. The governments that already allow full legal gender recognition through self-declaration include: Argentina, California (USA), Colombia, Denmark, Ireland, Malta and Norway.
  4. The governments that already provide various non-binary identity documents, such as birth certificates or passports, include: Argentina, Bangladesh, California (USA), Canada, Denmark, India, Malta, Nepal, New South Wales (Australia), New Zealand, Oregon (USA) and Pakistan.
  5. Nicola Sturgeon’s 2016 speech on non-binary gender recognition can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQGM7Jk2HAs&t=63s
  6. Gender recognition reform does not affect sport. Where necessary for fair and safe competition, sports governing bodies will continue to be able to restrict trans people’s participation regardless of whether they have received legal gender recognition.
  7. Trans people have never been required to obtain legal gender recognition in order to use toilets and changing facilities of their gender identity. The Equality Act 2010 will continue to provide single-sex service providers with the ability to treat trans people differently from other service users if that is a proportionate response to achieve a legitimate aim (such as ensuring adequate privacy).
  8. Scottish Trans Alliance scottishtrans.org is Scotland’s national transgender equality and human rights project and is based within the Equality Network, a national charity working for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) equality and human rights in Scotland: www.equality-network.org
  9. LGBT Youth Scotland lgbtyouth.org.uk is Scotland’s largest youth and community based organisation for LGBT young people. We regularly support professionals to meet the needs of gender non-conforming children under the age of 13 and work with a high number of transgender young people under the age of 16 within our services. We run youth groups across Scotland and two national participation projects, including the LGBT Youth Commission on Gender Recognition.
  10. Stonewall Scotland stonewallscotland.org.uk campaign for equality and justice for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people living in Scotland. We work with businesses, the public sector, local authorities, the Scottish Government and Parliament and a range of partners to improve the lived experience of LGBT people in Scotland.

Marriage civil partnership and gender recognition

From 16 December 2014 it will be possible for trans people who are married or in a civil partnership to obtain gender recognition without having to divorce or dissolve their civil partnership. Trans people who are married will be able to apply to the gender recognition panel using a new application process which will reflect the fact that some applicants will wish their marriage to continue post gender recognition. Those in civil partnerships will be able to convert their civil partnership to a marriage before applying for gender recognition and then use the same process as other married applicants. Although you can apply under the new rules from the 16th, in practice it is likely that the first decisions on such applications will not be made by the panel until around February next year.

The following information applies for couples who married in Scotland regardless of where they currently live. If you currently live in Scotland but married elsewhere than Scotland then please contact sta@equality-network.org for information appropriate to your circumstances.social_sta_mock2lores_x2 (2)

Applying for gender recognition whilst married

With a declaration from your spouse

If your spouse is available and willing to sign a statutory declaration consenting to the marriage continuing, to obtain gender recognition you will need to apply to the gender recognition panel (GRP) using the new application form and new statutory declarations for married people.

If your application is successful the gender recognition panel will inform the Registrar General for Scotland that gender recognition has been granted. You will then be informed that you can either have a renewed marriage ceremony or use a simple administrative process to have your marriage re-registered to show your current name and your preferred designation as bride or bridegroom. You also have the option of simply continuing to use your original marriage certificate without changes if you wish.Whichever route you choose your marriage will be treated as having continued from the date you originally got married.

Having a renewed ceremony

The process for organising a renewed marriage ceremony will be much the same as when you originally got married. You will be able to choose to have a civil, religious or humanist ceremony. As you are legally a same sex couple you will only be able to have your wedding solemnised by a celebrant who is authorised to conduct same sex weddings.

As before, both you and your partner will submit the marriage notice forms, only this time in the box which asks for “Marital or Civil Partnership Status” you will tick “Existing Marriage”. You will then have a renewed ceremony, which can be as simple or as all singing all dancing as you like! If you have a civil ceremony the minimum cost will be £125.

Following the ceremony the marriage schedule and entry in the marriage register will be the same as for any other marriage apart from the fact that you will be described as in an existing marriage. This is the same for couples who marry abroad and wish to confirm their marriage in Scotland.

Re-registering your marriage

If you do not want to have a renewed marriage ceremony you can use a simple administrative procedure to re-register your marriage. You and your partner will fill in an application form and send it to the National Records of Scotland (NRS). NRS will send you a draft of the new marriage register entry for you to approve.  You can then request a new marriage certificate. The only fee for this process is the standard £10 charge for the certificate.

Your marriage certificate

The marriage certificate you receive will be slightly different depending on whether you choose to re-register your marriage or have a renewed ceremony.

In the first case the certificate will vary from other marriage certificates because the boxes for witnesses will simply have a line through them. If you have a renewed ceremony you will have needed witnesses and so these boxes will be filled. Following both re-registration and renewal the other difference between your wedding certificate and others will be that in the “Marital or Civil Partnership Status” box you will be described as being in an “Existing Marriage”.

It may be possible to choose to have a note added to the bottom of the certificate stating that “This is a re-registration. The couple are treated as having been married to each other since [the date of the original marriage]” This would be useful if you need to prove how long you have been married and don’t want to show your old marriage certificate. We don’t yet know whether this will be possible but will update this page when we have further information.

Gender recognition without declaration from your spouse

This information applies only to people who married in Scotland and currently live in Scotland. If this does not apply to you please contact sta@equality-network.org for information appropriate to your circumstances.

If your spouse is not available and willing to sign a statutory declaration consenting to the marriage continuing, then the process for obtaining gender recognition will be more involved. In this case you apply to the gender recognition panel without a declaration from your spouse, and if your application is successful the GRP will provide you with an interim gender recognition certificate instead of a full certificate. You can use the interim certificate to apply to the Sheriff Court for full gender recognition within 6 months from the date it is issued to you. The Sheriff will grant you full gender recognition  if you were married in Scotland and you have applied within the time limit.

Although obtaining gender recognition in this way has the same effect as if it was granted by the gender recognition panel you will not be able to renew or re-register your marriage to obtain a new marriage certificate, without your partner’s consent. Your marriage will however continue in full legal effect, unless you or your spouse applies for divorce.

Applying for gender recognition if you have a civil partnership

This information applies only to people who had their civil partnership in Scotland and live in the UK. If this does not apply to you please contact sta@equality-network.org for information appropriate to your circumstances.

Because mixed sex civil partnership has not yet been introduced, you will have to convert your civil partnership to a marriage in order for one of you to get gender recognition. The gender recognition panel (GRP) recommend you convert your civil partnership to a marriage before you submit your gender recognition application. If you and your civil partner both want to get gender recognition, you can keep your civil partnership so long as you both apply to the GRP for gender recognition at the same time. (It may be possible to apply for gender recognition before converting your civil partnership to a marriage, and have the conversion happen at the same time as your gender recognition, but this more complicated procedure will not be in place by December 16th)

Converting via the administrative route

You can convert your civil partnership to a marriage by making an appointment with your local registrar. You will have to take photo ID with you (such as a driver’s licence or passport), if you have changed your ID to reflect your new name and/or gender it is fine to take that, and your civil partnership certificate. The registrar will register your marriage then and there and provide you with a marriage certificate. If you registered your civil partnership before 16th December 2014 and you convert to marriage before 16th December 2015, there will be no fee for the conversion, but there will be a £10 fee for the marriage certificate. From 16th December 2015 there will also be a fee for the conversion.

Converting via a ceremony 

If you want to have a ceremony to mark the conversion of your civil partnership to a marriage you can do so by marrying in the usual way and can have a civil, religious or humanist ceremony. Because at this point you will still legally be a same sex couple you will only be able to have your wedding solemnised by a celebrant who is authorised to conduct same sex weddings. The fee for this will depend on the celebrant and the ceremony – the minimum fee for a civil marriage is £125.

Applying for gender recognition

Once you have converted your civil partnership to a marriage you can then apply to the GRP using the procedure for married people described above under “Applying for gender recognition whilst married.”

If your application is successful the gender recognition panel will inform the Registrar General for Scotland that gender recognition has been granted. You will then be informed that if you want you can have your marriage re-registered either by having a renewed marriage ceremony or through a simple administrative process. As you will now be a legally mixed sex couple, you will be able to have your renewed wedding ceremony solemnised by a celebrant authorised to conduct mixed-sex weddings.Whether or not you choose to do so, your marriage will be treated as having existed from the date of your civil partnership, not the date of the conversion to marriage.

See the sections above on “Having a renewed ceremony” and “Re-registering your marriage.”

If it is important to you that your wedding certificate does not out you as trans you will want to have your marriage re-registered because the wedding certificate you will be given when you convert from civil partnership to marriage will refer back to the civil partnership. As mixed sex civil partnership is not available this would show that you used to be a legally same sex couple. If you had not changed your name at the time you converted your civil partnership you might also want to re-register your marriage so you have a marriage certificate with your new name on.

 

Scottish Trans comments on the UK Government Response to the Women and Equalities Committee Report on Transgender Equality

Today, the UK Government published their response to the Women and Equalities Committee Report on Transgender Equality. Whilst the Scottish Trans Alliance welcomes some of the content, overall we think that the response is very disappointing. The UK Government makes reference throughout to the need to collect more evidence or do increased monitoring around certain recommendations, despite the fact that the Committee’s Inquiry already collected substantial evidence, and the Committee based their recommendations on that evidence. We think that a significant part of the UK Government’s response is weak, as it does not set out concrete proposals for making the necessary changes to improve trans people’s rights and lived experiences.

Of course, many issues covered by the Inquiry concern matters which are devolved to Scotland, including the Gender Recognition Act, the spousal veto (which Scotland does not have), NHS services, hate crime, education and prisons. As a Scottish organisation, therefore, our view of the UK Government’s response is of less relevance than that of trans organisations and people in England and Wales! The Scottish Government has already made stronger commitments on a number of issues covered in the UK Government’s response – most notably to reforming the Gender Recognition Act.

Below are our comments on the UK Government’s responses to each of the recommendations made by the Women and Equalities Committee Report on Transgender Equality. We have tried to make it clear where certain areas are devolved to Scotland, and there may already be better practice, or commitment to better practice, from the Scottish Government.

Recommendations 1 & 2 (Cross Government Strategy): Good response – UK Government will report on previous trans equality action plan and publish a new plan

Recommendation 3 (Yogyakarta Principles and Resolution 2048 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe): Disappointing response. The UK Government refuses to commit to Yogyakarta principles, saying current international and domestic legislation is sufficient. UK Government claims to be at forefront of Europe on trans equality, but this is no longer the case. Many countries around Europe (Malta, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, Sweden, The Netherlands, Belgium) now have better gender recognition law than the UK.

Recommendations 4, 5, 7 & 8 (Gender Recognition Act 2004): Very weak response. The UK Government says they will review the Gender Recognition Act, but makes no commitment to reform it. The Scottish Government’s position is much stronger and more progressive, and commits to reforming the Gender Recognition Act and bringing it in line with international best practice. This would include implementing all of the changes discussed in this response – moving to a process of self-determination, lowering the age at which you can access legal gender recognition, and legally recognising non-binary people.

Recommendation 6 (Spousal consent): Very weak response – no commitment to remove spousal veto, which was never included in the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, and therefore does not exist in Scotland.

Recommendation 9 (Data protection): Good response on investigating why there have been no prosecutions under Section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act (which makes it a criminal offense to reveal someone’s trans history if they have a Gender Recognition Certificate and you have found out in an “official capacity”). Weak response on protecting trans people from outing in court proceedings. The response simply reiterates the existing training and guidance for the judiciary, despite the inquiry having heard that this wasn’t currently protecting trans people from being outed.

Recommendation 10 (Gender reassignment as a protected characteristic): Very poor response – no commitment to amend the Equality Act. The UK Government seem to have fundamentally missed the point that not all trans people will be perceived as having the protected characteristic of ‘gender reassignment’ and that is exactly why the revision was recommended.  For example a non-binary person who decided to continue to live in their assigned gender, but shared their non-binary gender identity with colleagues and experienced discrimination as a result of this, is not adequately covered by the ‘perception’ aspect of the legislation.

Recommendation 11 (EHRC Complaints): May be correct that no restriction exists in law

Recommendation 12 (Exemptions in respect of trans people): Weak – agree with the principle of the recommendation, but there is no commitment to amend the law to remove the exemptions as they apply to single-sex services. Whilst increasing numbers of single-sex services in Scotland are basing their policy on best practice and being trans inclusive, this still leaves uncertainty around the extent to which trans people have the right access to services which reflect their gender identity.

Recommendation 13 (Separate gender sport): We don’t have detailed knowledge on the way that this is dealt with in England and Wales to comment at any length. However, the UK Government response mentions improving participation within a wider LGB&T framework, and we hope that this allows for enough attention to be paid to the very specific barriers that trans people face in accessing sport, which can be rather different from cisgender LGB people.

(NHS Services): The UK Government highlights that it is not a lack of financial resources, but a lack of medical professionals with the expertise to work with trans people that is the biggest cause of long waiting lists for trans-specific healthcare. It does not suggest any practical solutions for how to address this problem. NHS Services are devolved to Scotland, and the STA will continue working with NHS Scotland to try to improve access to trans-specific healthcare.

Recommendation 14 (Professional regulation of doctors): Weak response to the clear recommendation for immediate action.

Recommendation 15 (Professional regulation of doctors): Fair response from GMC

Recommendation 16 (Treatment protocols): Fair response, particularly that the UK Government states “Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness”, but disappointing that there appear to be significant barriers to change, and no definite plan for how to move Gender Identity Clinics out of mental health trusts.

Recommendations 17-19 (Treatment protocols): Usefulness of response depends on NHS England action. These recommendations were specific to NHS England – would not have an impact on Scottish healthcare.

Recommendation 20 (The Tavistock Clinic): Usefulness of response depends on NHS England action – and once again this recommendation was specific to NHS England, and would not have an impact on Scottish healthcare.

Recommendations 21 & 22 (Hate crime legislation): Disappointing response on review of English hate crime legislation. Disappointing response on training for police – there is a much better commitment to this from the Scottish Government.

Recommendations 23, 24 & 25 (Recording names and gender identities): OK on review of gender markers; very disappointing response on gender X on passports. New Zealand and Denmark are two countries who don’t legally recognise non-binary genders, but do have gender X passports. It is also unclear why the UK Government think that an introduction of X markers on passports would have to be a legislative change or tied to non-binary legal gender recognition. The UK Passport Office could start issuing gender X passports simply by making an administrative change. It is also unclear why they would approach the International Civil Aviation Organisation about removing gender from passports, but are unwilling to accept the current option of an X.

Recommendation 26 (Prison and Probation services):  Very weak response. The proposed timeline for the working group is 3 years – considering the two deaths in custody in English prisons of trans women within the last year this is not urgent enough. Also unclear how a policy can be “treating someone as the gender they identify with” if it is continuing to house them in a different estate. The Scottish Prison Service has a much better policy on housing trans people in custody, placing them in the estate which corresponds to their gender identity.

Recommendation 27 (Media): Unclear whether Independent Press Standards Organisation and Ofcom are addressing this recommendation

Recommendation 28 (Online services): Unclear whether government action here will be effective

Recommendation 29 (Schools): Remains unclear what happens on Initial Teacher Training, and focuses on past work rather than changes for the future. Education is a devolved matter, so this recommendation does not apply to Scotland.

Recommendation 30 (Schools): Weak response – the use of “age-appropriate and sensitive manner” seems to leave too much room for interpretation – particularly when we know these are the exact types of arguments people will use for not providing trans-inclusive education. Education is a devolved matter, so this recommendation does not apply to Scotland.

Recommendations 31, 32 & 33 (Post school education): OK response – which further highlights weakness of recommendation 30 re: schools

Recommendation 34 (Social care for young people): The promised study is welcome – action is then needed

Recommendation 35 (Lack of sufficient understanding of transgender issues by professionals in the public sector): OK response – however we imagine that all of these services have equalities training that covers trans issues to an extent, and the letter may just get the response of “our staff are aware of their obligations under the Equality Act”. Monitoring of the effectiveness of the training provided is welcome, but it would seem that the inquiry and subsequent recommendation have already indicated that it is inadequate.

Past Scottish Trans Forums

<details of Forums in 2016 still to be added>

 

Forum on 18th November 2015 in Edinburgh on reform of Gender Recognition Act

This forum brought together five key English trans activists with nine key Scottish trans activists in order to discuss the details of how best to reform the Gender Recognition Act and to enable coordination of English and Scottish campaigning.

 

Forum on 25th August 2015 in Dundee on access to gender reassignment services

This forum was held in partnership with the National Gender Identity Clinical Network for Scotland (NGICNS) and focused on addressing the differences between the NHS Tayside gender reassignment referral pathway and the general NHS Scotland gender reassignment protocol.

 

Forum on 8th August 2015 in Perth on the UK Parliament Women and Equalities Committee Inquiry into Trans Equality

This forum focused on developing the Scottish Trans Alliance response to the Women and Equality Committee’s Inquiry into Trans Equality. The 13 trans participants discussed and agreed each of the points to be included in the Scottish Trans Alliance response and were also sent the final draft of the response by email for further comment a few days later. Six trans people unable to attend the forum submitted their views by email and phone instead. Read the response Scottish Trans Alliance submitted and the oral evidence our manager gave to the committee in Westminster.

 

Forum on 27th June 2015 in Dumfries on experiences of trans people living in rural areas

This forum was held in partnership with Dumfries & Galloway LGBT Plus. It combined training for trans people on their legal rights with a forum discussion exploring the experiences of the 11 trans participants and their priorities for trans equality work.

 

Forum on 17th May 2015 in Edinburgh on international trans rights

This forum took place on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. It included a one day exhibition of the ‘Proudly Trans’ series of portraits and narratives of trans activists in Africa and Turkey created by artist and feminist activist Gabrielle Le Roux in collaboration with the individuals featured. The forum discussion explored trans equality around the world, the similarities and differences with trans equality in Scotland and how trans can get involved in international trans activism through organisations such as Transgender Europe and ILGA World. 31 people participated in the forum discussion and 96 people viewed the art exhibition.

 

Forum on 13th April 2015 in Aberdeen on access to NHS gender reassignment services

This forum was held in partnership with the National Gender Identity Clinical Network for Scotland (NGICNS) and focused on the negative impact of the retirement of the NHS Grampian Gender Identity Clinic’s consultant. The concerns of the 12 trans participants were used by the Scottish Trans Alliance and NGICNS to push NHS Grampian to resume access to gender reassignment services.

 

Conference of the Isles from 31st October to 2nd November 2014 in Edinburgh

This weekend residential conference, run by Scottish Trans Alliance with funding from the Scottish Government and Visit Scotland, brought together 174 trans people from across Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. There were 34 workshops over the weekend covering diverse trans equality, empowerment and community development topics. Participants were able to share knowledge, increase their activism skills, build confidence, help shape future trans equality work, explore how their experience their gender, and strengthen their relationships and networks. Two workshops focused on in-depth consultation about how best to reform the Gender Recognition Act in order to develop the details of our Equal Recognition campaign.

 

Forum on 16th September 2014 in Glasgow on trans inclusion within cervical screening services.

This forum was held in partnership with NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde and discussed how cervical screening publicity materials and service delivery could be made more inclusive and supportive for trans men and non-binary people.

 

Forum on 24th July 2014 in Glasgow on trans inclusion in sport

This forum was held in partnership with LEAP Sport Scotland’s Pride House during the Commonwealth Games. The discussion explored trans people’s experiences of trying to participate in various sports and informed the Scottish Trans Alliance’s policy work with Sports Governing Bodies and the development of the Equality Network’s LGBT Sports Charter.

 

Forum on 8th June 2014 in Dumfries on improving trans employment equality

This forum was held in partnership with Dumfries LGBT Centre and focused on trans people’s priorities for improving their experiences of transitioning in the workplace.

 

Scottish Trans Justice Conference on 13th March 2014 in Edinburgh

This national conference had 87 participants and enabled trans people to discuss several key justice issues. Five different workshops were run: one in partnership with Employment Tribunals Scotland on tackling workplace discrimination; one in partnership with the Equality and Human Rights Commission on challenging service provision discrimination; one in partnership with Police Scotland on increasing reporting of hate crime; one in partnership with the Scottish Prison Service consulting on their new trans custody policy; and one in partnership with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service consulting on their new ‘sex by deception’ policy.

 

Forum on 22nd February 2014 in Stirling on improving networking between local and national trans groups

This forum was held in partnership with LGBT Health and was open to representatives of local and national trans groups in Scotland.

 

9 Forums from October-November 2013 across Scotland on improving NHS Gender Reassignment Services

These nine Scottish Trans Forums all discussed the same topic – how could NHS Gender Reassignment Services in Scotland be improved? Within these nine forums, two specifically focused on trans women, two specifically focused on young people and one specifically focused on trans men and non-binary people. There were two forums held in Edinburgh, three in Glasgow, and one each in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dundee and Inverness. A total of 50 trans people, from across 11 of the 14 local NHS board areas, participated in these Scottish Trans Forums (31 trans women and 12 trans men and 5 non-binary trans people and 2 people who preferred not to say). The in-depth report of the findings was submitted to NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government as part of the national audit of the implementation of the NHS Scotland Gender Reassignment Protocol. It was circulated to all NHS Boards and informed the creation of the work-plan of the National Gender Identity Clinical Network for Scotland.

 

Forum on 13th October 2013 in Dundee on trans community support needs

This forum was held in partnership with LGBT Health and focused on discussing what trans people would like in terms of development of trans community peer support groups, social events and workshops.

 

Forum on 5th October 2013 in Linlithgow on priorities for young trans people

This forum was held in conjunction with a LGBT Youth Scotland residential event to find out what young trans people aged 13-25 would like Scottish Trans Alliance and LGBT Youth Scotland to do to improve trans equality, particularly within education, youth work and health services.

 

3 Forums from January-February 2013 across Scotland to develop trans equality priorities and Scottish Trans Alliance work-plan for 2014-2017.

These three Scottish Trans Forums were held in partnership with the Perth Transgender Support Group, the Grampian T-Folk Support Group and the T-Time Edinburgh Support Group and took place in Perth, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. The forums discussed the ‘Time for Change’ trans equality priorities of their members to inform the development of the Scottish Trans Alliance work-plan for 2014-2017 and the recommendation of the Scottish LGBT Equality Report.

 

Scottish Trans Health Conference on 15th November 2012 in Glasgow.

This conference was run by the Scottish Trans Alliance in partnership with NHS Health Scotland, NHS National Services Scotland and the Scottish Health Council. It provided a national forum for 64 trans people to discuss a wide range of health equality issues with 27 NHS managers and 31 voluntary sector service providers. You can read the Scottish Trans Health Conference Report.

 

17 Forums from October-December 2012 across Scotland to develop Scottish LGBT equality priorities.

These 17 forums were held jointly by the Scottish Trans Alliance and the Equality Network under the consultation title ‘Time for Change’. These forums discussed people’s priorities for future local and national LGBT equality work. They were held in Aberdeen, Ayr, Dundee, Edinburgh, Elgin, Giffnock, Glasgow, Greenock, Hawick, Inverness, Irvine, Kilmarnock, Kirkwall, Lerwick, Portree, Stirling and Stornoway. These forums, together with the three trans-specific forums run in 2013, informed the development of the recommendations of the Equality Network’s Scottish LGBT Equality Report and the Scottish Trans Alliance work-plan for 2014-2017.

 

5 Forums in October 2011 across Scotland on Equal Marriage.

These five forums were held jointly by the Scottish Trans Alliance and the Equality Network to help empower people to submit views about Equal Marriage to the Scottish Government. There was one each held in Dumfries, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.

 

Forum on 22nd October 2011 in Dundee on topic of diversity monitoring.

This forum involved 16 trans participants plus 6 Scottish Government Civil Servants and 2 Scottish Trans Alliance facilitators. The Forum primarily focused on discussing views about Gender Identity Monitoring Questions. It also provided an update on the progress of the creation of a NHS Scotland Gender Reassignment Protocol and discussion about Equal Marriage for Trans People.

 

9 Forums in May 2011 across Scotland on improving NHS Scotland gender reassignment services.

These nine Scottish Trans Forums all discussed the same topic – how could NHS Gender Reassignment Services in Scotland be improved? Within these nine forums, two specifically focused on trans men, two specifically focused on trans women, and one specifically focused on young people. There were three forums held in Edinburgh, two in Glasgow, and one each in Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness and Kirkcudbright. These forums brought together trans people and NHS managers and a written report of the findings was circulated to all NHS Boards. A total of 56 trans people participated in these Scottish Trans Forums (34 trans women and 19 trans men and 3 non-binary trans people).

 

4 Forums from December 2010 to February 2011 across Scotland to develop Scottish Trans Alliance work-plan.

These four Scottish Trans Forums took place in Edinburgh, Perth, Inverness and Montrose. The Montrose event was focused on young trans people and held in partnership with LGBT Youth Scotland. All four of the forums discussed the same topic – what transgender equality outcomes and work outputs should the Scottish Trans Alliance prioritise for 2011-2014? A total of 46 people participated in these Scottish Trans Forums (22 trans women, 9 trans men, 12 non-binary people and 3 trans allies). The priorities expressed by participants were all recorded using the methodology of Ketso http://www.ketso.com/ and the 2011-2014 Scottish Trans Alliance work-plan was developed from the participants’ views on outcome and output priorities.

 

Forum on 20th March 2010 in Glasgow on the topic of hate crime.

This Scottish Trans Forum was held jointly with the Equality Network in Glasgow. There were 12 trans people plus 19 non-transgender LGB people and 4 facilitators/presenters. The forum discussed the implementation of the new sexual orientation, transgender identity and disability hate crime legislation and how the police and crown office are developing their operational policies and practice to improve hate crime reporting and prosecution effectiveness.

 

Forum on 27th February 2010 in Edinburgh on the topics of European networking for trans rights work and on using art to promote trans rights.

There were 16  trans participants together with 4 facilitators, 4 performance artists and a representative from the Scottish Government Equality Unit. The forum discussed and reflected upon recent attempts to promote national transgender rights via art and also via networking and learning exchanges between European transgender community groups.

 

Forum on 1st September 2009 in Glasgow on the topic of enforcement of goods, faciliities and services legal protections.

The room size and roundtable meeting style meant that the numbers of participants was restricted to a maximum of 12 places for transgender participants so each of the transgender community peer support groups were therefore invited to send a representative. The Scottish Trans Forum ended up having 10 transgender participants plus the Scottish Trans Alliance Manager and 3 Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Scotland representatives. It was run as a roundtable discussion to enable the transgender representatives to directly discuss with the EHRC Scotland representatives transgender experiences of discrimination in Scotland on grounds of gender reassignment and their views about key priority areas where they would like to see enforcement of the current gender reassignment legal rights to service provision equality.

 

Forum on 21 March 2009 in Edinburgh on topics of gender recognition, education, and cultural inclusion.

There were 26 trans participants plus 7 facilitators. The gender recognition discussion which took place was part of a Economic Social Research Council funded study by Dr Sally Hines and Dr Zowie Davy of the University of Leeds on the effects of the Gender Recognition Act 2004. The education and cultural inclusion discussions which took place informed the development of the Scottish Trans Alliance workplan and GoMA Gender Diversity Art Outreach Workshops for 2009-2010.

 

Forum on 4 October 2008 in Glasgow on the topic of health. 

There were 16 trans participants plus 3 facilitators. The discussion notes from this Scottish Trans forum formed the basis of Scottish Trans Alliance work on transgender health issues during 2009-2010.

Gender recognition

Changing the gender on a UK driving licence or UK passport does not change the person’s legal gender.  A person’s legal gender is tied to their UK birth certificate.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 created a process to enable transsexual people to get their UK birth certificates and legal gender changed.  The transsexual person can apply to the Government’s Gender Recognition Panel for a Gender Recognition Certificate.  If they are successful in their application, the law will recognise them as having all the rights and responsibilities appropriate to a person of their acquired gender.

To apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate under the Standard Application Process the person needs to demonstrate that:

  • They are at least 18 years old;
  • They have lived fully for the last two years in their acquired gender and that they intend to live permanently in their acquired gender for the rest of their life;
  • They have, or have had, gender dysphoria.  They are required to provide two medical reports (one from their GP and one from their Gender Specialist) confirming the diagnosis and detailing any transition-related medical treatment (such as psychological counselling, hormones and/or surgical procedures) that they have received.  It is not necessary for the person to have undergone any surgery but if they haven’t then one of the reports should indicate whether they are waiting for any surgery or give any reason for the person deciding not to have any surgery.

To apply for UK Gender Recognition under the Overseas Application Process the person needs to demonstrate that they are at least 18 years old and that they are already legally recognised as their acquired gender in a country or territory that is on the Gender Recognition Panel’s approved list.

Full information about the application procedures, detailed guidance on the legal effects of Gender Recognition, and application forms are available from the Gender Recognition Panel website.

We are currently campaigning for the process of getting legal gender recognition to be made easier. You can find out more about the Equal Recognition Campaign at www.equalrecognition.scot

 

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.

 

UK Gov consultation on outdated Gender Recognition Act is a positive step forward for society

Support self-declaration for legal gender recognition

The Scottish Trans Alliance welcomes the UK Government’s announcement of a consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 in England and Wales. The UK Government’s promise to consult on reform follows over two years of focused campaigning from transgender equality groups together with pressure from the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee.

The Scottish Government has already committed to reform gender recognition law in line with international best practice and has promised to consult on the details at the end of the summer. Like marriage law, gender recognition law is devolved and progress in Scotland positively influences progress in England.

The UK Government’s decision to consult in the autumn on allowing trans people to change the gender on their birth certificates by self-declaration, without having to provide intrusive psychiatric reports and other onerous evidence, is positive step forward for society. It will uphold transgender people’s privacy and dignity and also ensure that their pensions, insurance policies, civil partnerships and marriages are all administered correctly and smoothly. Currently, birth certificates are much harder to change than all other types of identity documents and records so transgender people are often left in limbo with the gender on their birth certificate contradicting all their other official paperwork.

For over 20 years, transgender people in the UK have already been able to change the gender on their passports, driving licences, medical records and employment records by self-declaration at the start of their transitions. It makes no sense to continue to treat birth certificates differently from these other forms of identification and the proposed reform to remove this unfair anomaly is long overdue.

Making it easier to change the gender on birth certificates will not affect how transgender people access single-sex services because they can already use the self-declared gender recorded on their passports and driving licences as identification. Many trans women early in their transitions already regularly use women’s services and facilities without any problems.

Reform of the Gender Recognition Act will not affect the process for accessing NHS gender reassignment services. Medical assessments and criteria for approval to receive NHS hormones and surgeries will remain unchanged.

Sports governing bodies are legally permitted to restrict participation of trans people, even once they have received legal gender recognition, if this is necessary to ensure fair and safe competition. So self-declaration does not create any additional challenges for competitive sports.

There is no evidence to suggest people will falsely change their gender on their official documents. This has not been a problem within any of the existing gender self-declaration processes in the UK or Ireland. It is a serious criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment, to make a false statement on a legal statutory declaration so this provides sufficient protection.

Notes:

1. The Scottish Trans Alliance is Scotland’s national transgender equality and human rights project and is based within the Equality Network, a national charity working for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) equality and human rights in Scotland.

2. Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Denmark, Germany, India, Ireland, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, and also the states of Oregon and California in America all have more inclusive gender recognition procedures than the UK. International best practice is to allow gender recognition through self-declaration, to provide a gender neutral option for non-binary trans people who do not identify solely as men or women, and to allow access to gender recognition for young trans people who have transitioned with their parents’ consent.

3. The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee’s Inquiry into Transgender Equality published its report in January 2016 recommending reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004. The Scottish Trans Alliance was one of the groups that submitted written and oral evidence to the Inquiry.

All Resources

This page lists all the downloadable documents currently available on the site.