UK gender recognition process changes being considered by Scottish Government

Changes to the legal gender recognition process to make it simpler and cheaper, revealed by the UK government, are being considered by the Scottish Government as its own reforms remain shelved as a result of the Covid pandemic.

Thursday, 24th September 2020, 4:45 pm
The Scottish Government has said it is considering the UK Government's decision on reform of the gender recognition process.
The Scottish Government has said it is considering the UK Government's decision on reform of the gender recognition process.

The UK government’s equalities minister, Liz Truss, confirmed today in the Commons that long-awaited reforms to the Gender Recognition Act would not see a move towards “self-identification” and that current medical requirements necessary to legally change gender will remain the same,

Quizzed by MPs, she said the bureaucratic nature of applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate would be modernised and made “kinder”, the current £140 fee would be scrapped and replaced with a "nominal fee to ensure cost is not a barrier” and at least three new gender clinics would open to improve waiting times.

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We need more clarity on gender rights debate from Scottish Government

While her announcement, made originally in writing on Tuesday, was welcomed by women campaigners who had feared the proposals to move to self-ID would erode women's single-sex spaces, it was greeted with dismay by LGBT+ organisations who wanted far greater reform.

In Scotland, similar proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act have been shelved as a result of the Covid pandemic and no Bill will be brought to Holyrood before next year's elections. The government has also paused the analysis of responses to its consultation on the reforms which closed six months ago .

However as the system to apply for and receive a GRC operates across the UK, the Scottish Government has confirmed that Liz Truss’s statement is now being "carefully considered” for its impact on Scotland.

A spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government remains committed to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and to do so in way that ensures women’s rights are preserved and protected. Trans people continue to suffer poorer outcomes relative to the wider population, and this needs to change which is also why we are aiming to improve the lives of trans and non-binary people more generally.

“The Gender Recognition Panel takes applications from across the UK. We will consider carefully what the UK Government’s announcement means for Scotland.”

Policy collective MurrayBlackburnMackenzie, which has been scrutinising the Scottish Government’s actions on gender recognition reform and the Census, said there were concerns about the lack of clarity around Scotland's consultation responses.

“If the responses are not published and no analysis undertaken before the end of this parliament, they may be deemed after May to be the business of a former administration and all plans to publish or analyse them will fall.

"The responses... are a resource for any future consideration of this issue in Scotland and so we hope the Scottish Government will confirm that it still plans to make consultation responses public in the usual way, and to proceed with commissioning an analysis of responses before next May.”

The Scottish Trans Alliance criticised the UK government’s reforms as “tiny improvements” but also expressed concern about the Scottish consultation.

“In Scotland, GRA reform is still in the balance. The current Scottish Government consulted on a draft bill that goes much further than what the UK Government has announced, without being perfect. Work on analysing that consultation and progressing that bill was paused due to coronavirus – we sincerely hope that it will begin again as soon as reasonably possible.”

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