Weekly Roundup: 28th October 2022: Reforms to gender recognition in Scotland

The Memo Landing Page.png

Reforms to gender recognition in Scotland

Alice Gregory

Scotland is in the process of passing  new legislation which will make it easier for people to change their legally recognised gender. Rights aren’t changing – trans people have been allowed to change their legal gender since the implementation of the Gender Recognition Act in 2004 – but this legislation will make the process simpler.

At the moment, to qualify for legal gender recognition that differs from biological sex, Scottish applicants would first apply to a UK gender recognition panel with a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Applicants must also present a report detailing any treatment or surgery undergone to change sexual characteristics. Moreover, the applicant must have proof that they have lived full-time in this gender for at least two years. This may mean providing evidence of using a new name on official documents, or their acquired gender identity on passports. Finally, applicants swear an oath that they plan to continue this for the rest of their lives.

Making a false declaration or application is a criminal offence, and this oath will remain under the new proposal. However, the proposal suggests that the process should be handled by the Registrar General for Scotland instead of a UK panel. Applicants would need to prove that they have lived in the acquired gender for three months rather than two years, and medical reports and diagnoses would no longer be necessary. The minimum age to change legal gender would also be lowered from 18 to 16 under the new law.

On Thursday 28 October, MSPs took part in the first stage of voting at Holyrood to pass the legislation, where 88 politicians voted in favour and 33 against. The bill will now move onto the next stage in which any necessary amendments will be considered.