The Scottish Parliament is attempting to reform Gender Recognition Legislation. They have launched a public enquiry to gather public opinion on this. I submitted answers to some of the questions. I tried to make them in-depth and informative enough to publish them here. I hope you find them helpful.
The removal of the requirement for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and supporting medical evidence.
The need for diagnosis is a remnant of a time when we considered being transgender a “disorder”. Although there is value in discussing identity with a medical professional, only the transgender individual themselves can honestly know how they feel concerning their gender identity. A doctor does not know best. I think there should be a need to speak to an expert gender therapist. Still, the need for a diagnosis treats gender dysphoria like a medical condition rather than an intrinsic part of a person’s identity.
Furthermore, not every trans or trans-aligned person experiences a quantifiable amount of gender dysphoria beyond not identifying with their assigned gender. GPs and doctors often overlook this when diagnosing a person because there is a focus on diagnosis for surgery rather than a diagnosis for legal identity. Being trans should be more focused on living as one’s true self rather than attempting to change oneself to a more acceptable version of another gender. This encourages transmedicalism, which discriminates against non-binary people, who can’t necessarily get surgery to appear more like their gender outwardly.
A diagnosis was important before, but the more knowledge we gain about how gender identity works, the more redundant it becomes. We need to shift the focus away from the medical aspects of being trans to humanise the trans community rather than making them appear to be a medical anomaly.
Provisions enabling applicants to make a statutory declaration that they have lived in the acquired gender for a minimum of three months (rather than the current period of two years) and that they intend to live permanently in their acquired gender.
Gender is a spectrum and is often very fluid. The current legislation encourages trans people to decide their gender at a very young age. This makes it harder to prevent trans people from going through puberty with the sex they do not align with.
Reducing the requirement from 2 years to 3 months will help trans people access healthcare and be legally recognised as their correct gender quickly, but I don’t think it goes far enough. Despite the positives, the idea that “they intend to live permanently in their acquired gender” ignores the idea that some trans people’s identity changes and shifts over time. There needs to be room for identities to change over time. If there is not, we will be stuck in a similar situation to which we are now.
The minimum age for applicants to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) should be reduced from 18 to 16.
There is medical research that some trans people are perfectly aware of their gender identity from the age of 5. There are also statistics to show that having little-to-no access to healthcare in their teenage years significantly increases the rates of mental health issues and suicide amongst transgender teenagers.
Healthcare is a human right, with the legal age of medical consent in the UK being 16. Not only should trans people be able to consent to perfectly reversible hormone treatments from the age of 16, but they should also be able to obtain a GRC quickly – at a minimum!
Hormone blockers should be available to pre-teens to help them prevent the experience of going through the wrong puberty. Obviously, they would not be able to medically consent to this, but supportive parents and a doctor who listens should be able to provide access to this for people below the age of 16. It saves lives.
GRCs should be available to people at the age of 16 but should also allow for fluctuations in Gender Identity as that person continues to develop. This should include their ability to reverse the process in the case that they wish to detransition.
If you have any comments on the offences of knowingly making a false application or including incorrect information.
There is a lot of fear around people who falsify their gender identity to take advantage of trans-friendly women’s spaces. These people are not trans. They are sex offenders.
An offence of this scale creates fear and distrust of the trans community and can lead to increases in hate crimes against trans women. Therefore, the consequences of this offence should reflect the crime of falsifying documents and the damage this may have done to trans people internationally and the crimes this false information may have facilitated.
Luckily, very few crimes of this type have been committed. When I last checked, I could only find one case of it in Canada. Nothing in the US. Nothing in the UK. So, there should be legislation in the unlikely case that something like this happens, but I doubt it will have to be used.
If you have any comments on removing powers, introduce a fee.
Healthcare should be free at the point of use. Being legally recognised for who you are is part of coping with gender dysphoria. It is essential for transgender wellbeing. Charging for it is a tax on wellbeing.
Could the Bill’s intended policy outcomes be delivered through other means, such as using existing legislation or another way?
We need to rewrite trans legislation to remove it from the harmful standards of the past. The existing legislation can only be improved upon, so ultimately, as long as it includes the recognition of non-binary people, it does not matter.
I just want to feel welcome in the UK.