Scotland is set to become the first part of the UK to create a legally-recognised third gender for people who do not identify as either male or female.Young children who have not yet reached puberty could also be allowed to legally change their gender under radical plans set out by the Scottish Government.
The proposals were warmly welcomed by gender equality and trans groups, but others described them as an “outrage” and said they amounted to an “attack on the family”.
Ministers want to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which states that people in the UK have to be over 18 and apply to a panel if they want to change their gender.
A consultation paper published on Thursday says this “intrusive and onerous” process should be simplified in Scotland and the minimum age for applications lowered to at least 16. It also suggests removing the need for applicants to provide medical evidence and to have lived in their new gender for two years, creating a new “self-declaration” system instead.
Other more radical options are also being considered, such as making Scotland one of the only countries in the world to recognise people as “non-binary”. The gender, which applies to those who do not identify as either male or female, would mean that non-binary people could amend their birth certificates later in life. Passport problem However, they may find themselves unable to change official documents such as passports or driving licences, which are controlled at a UK level.
Giving recognition to a non-binary gender would be a “significant legal step”, the document acknowledges, as it could require amendments to equality, marriage and criminal law. The UK Government announced plans to review gender recognition legislation in July, but a consultation is not expected to be launched until next year.
The Scottish proposals also suggest that children under the age of 16 could be allowed to change their gender, but only if they had the “capacity to understand the consequences”. The consultation states: “Arrangements based on individual capacity would allow a sufficiently old and mature child to apply, even if their parents…did not support their decision. “This option would allow children who have sufficient legal capacity, but who may not have reached puberty, to apply.” Equality Secretary Angela Constance said the law in Scotland must be reformed so it treated transgender and non-binary people with “dignity, fairness and respect”.
Paris Lees on transgender prisoners: Isn’t it time we talked about the facts? “Scotland rightly has a reputation as one of the most progressive countries in relation to LGBTI legal and human rights equality in Europe – but we need to do more to progress equality for trans people,” she added. The Scottish Trans Alliance welcomed the plans, describing the current process of legally changing gender as “a humiliating, offensive and expensive red-tape nightmare”.
Colin Macfarlane, the director of Stonewall Scotland, also said the reforms were “desperately needed” and would help to reduce the “discrimination and abuse” facing trans people. But Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said the changes could lead to children legally changing their gender and then regretting the decision. “If this proposal by the Scottish Government means freezing out parents from one of the most life-changing and controversial decisions of their children’s lives then there will be outrage,” he added.
Source: Chris Green – www.inews.co.uk