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Scottish Parliament Publish Gender Recognition Reform Bill

The Scottish parliament has published a bill that proposes to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). The GRA was passed in 2004, and enables trans men and trans women to change the sex listed on their birth certificate, however it has been criticised by many LGBT+ rights organisations and trans people alike as being overly-bureaucratic, and an unnecessarily complicated process.

Certainly, when the GRA was first introduced it was in many ways a world-leading piece of socially progressive legislation, however in the time since, many countries across the world have significantly improved their laws, including nine states in Europe alone.

The new bill being brought forward proposes to make a series of key changes:

  1. Trans people will now make a legal statutory declaration confirming the sex in which they have lived for at least three months, and their intention to do so for the rest of their life. Previously this period was two years.
  2. Introduce a 3 month reflection period before a gender recognition certificate would be issued.
  3. Remove the current requirement to provide a psychiatric report, a component felt by many trans people to be very intrusive and demeaning.
  4. Remove the current requirement to provide a medical report which describes any hormonal or surgical treatment they are planning or have undergone.
  5. Lower the minimum application age for a gender recognition certificate to 16.

Commenting on the legislation, the manager of Scottish Trans, Vic Valentine said:

“We welcome the proposals in this Bill, that would see a massive improvement in how trans men and trans women in Scotland are able to be legally recognised as who they are… While the proposals fall far short of a law that would enable all trans people in Scotland to be legally recognised as who we are, this important step forward is one that we hope that all MSPs across the Chamber can support.”

This bill comes following recent statements issues from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which called for these measures to be paused, in a move criticised by many LGBT+ rights organisations as transphobic. However, it seems that the efforts of the regulatory are unlikely to succeed in this area. Indeed, the manifestos of the Scottish National Party, Scottish Labour, Scottish Greens and Scottish Liberal Democrats or the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections all committee to reforming the GRA. This means that 97 of the total 129 MSPs were elected on a commitment to pass this bill.

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