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Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill

In the Fairer Scotland Action Plan, the Scottish Government committed to “review and reform gender recognition law so it is in line with international best practice for people who are transgender”. Following on a consultation in 2017 on the principles of reform, the Scottish Government published a draft Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill on 17 Dec 2019. The public consultation on the draft bill concluded on 17 March 2020. However, further progress is paused due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill is paused

17 December 2019 = Draft bill published for public consultation.
17 March 2020 = Consultation closed.
01 April 2020 = Announced as one of several bills paused due to Coronavirus pandemic. You can read our reaction.

Why does the Gender Recognition Act need reformed?

Since 2004, the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) has allowed some trans people to change the sex on their birth certificate, providing them with formal legal recognition of who they are. Having a birth certificate with the correct sex on it makes sure trans people’s final bit of paperwork matches their life. It helps some trans people marry and get their pension correctly, and it gives them improved privacy.

However, the current process is bureaucratic, invasive and humiliating. Trans people have to wait years after they have transitioned and have to send detailed psychiatric and medical reports to a faceless tribunal panel. Non-binary people and under 18s are currently excluded from legal gender recognition. As a result of these barriers, only one in ten trans people have applied for a gender recognition certificate to change the sex on their birth certificate.

ID that you would use day-to-day, such as passports and driving licences, can already be changed much more easily by trans people. We are calling for the process of changing your birth certificate to be improved. We are not asking for any changes to the legal effects of receiving a gender recognition certificate, only changes to the process of applying, and who can apply. Read more about the self-declaration, age and non-binary improvements we believe are needed.

What does the draft bill include?

The draft bill introduces a system of statutory declaration, whereby a trans person makes a formal legal declaration confirming that they are living in their acquired gender and intend to continue to do so for the rest of their life. The current Gender Recognition Panel system and requirements for medical evidence would be abolished.

The draft bill outlines that applicants would need to confirm in this statutory declaration that they have been living for at least 3 months in their acquired gender. After applying, applicants would need to reflect for a further 3 months before a gender recognition certificate would be issued.

The draft bill proposes to reduce the age at which people can apply for a gender recognition certificate from 18 to 16 to allow younger people to benefit from these reforms. However, it fails to provide any process for trans children under 16-years old to apply for a gender recognition certificate with aid of parental or guardian support.

The draft bill fails to provide any legal gender recognition to non-binary people.

You can read the draft bill and accompanying consultation paper.

More about GRA reform

For more info on Gender Recognition Act reform, head over to our campaign website: https://equalrecognition.scot

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