What’s Next For Trans Rights in Scotland

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Scotland has become the first part of the UK to make some much-needed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, making it easier for trans people to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

Since the Equality Act 2010, trans people have had the legal right to not be discriminated against on the basis of their gender identities. This act also clarified that trans people should be treated as the gender they present as with regard to single-sex spaces and services. Put simply, since 2010 in the UK, trans people have had the legal right to be treated in society as their assumed gender.

The Gender Recognition Act Reform Bill in summary

The reform of the gender recognition act has not granted any additional rights to trans people. Especially not at the expense of cis people’s rights. What it does is eliminate the requirement for a medical diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’, lowers the age that you can apply for a GRC to 16, and allows people to apply for a GRC after living as their assumed gender for three months, down from two years.

The simplification of the bureaucracy that surrounds obtaining a GRC is much needed and welcome. However, it should be seen as the first step in the process for trans rights in Scotland rather than the culmination. 

As a next step, it is vital that the government looks at the rights and needs of non-binary and gender non-conforming people. In the UK, non-binary genders are not legally recognised and you can only be categorised as a male or female. The UK government stated in 2021 that there were no plans to legally recognise non-binary identities. The recently released stats from the 2021 census shows that 30,000 people identify as non-binary, and this may be fewer than the total because it does not include anyone under 16, and doesn’t account for anyone who isn’t out, didn’t answer, or didn’t provide details.

“For me getting non-binary recognition is about basic dignity, and acceptance by the state (and society generally) that our experience is valid,” said Edinburgh-based software developer Skye.

“Having to pick either male or female on official documents can be so demoralising” says non-binary student.

“The Gender Recognition Act can, and should, go even further,” says Freya Deyell, a non-binary student at the University of Stirling. “I am disappointed that the Scottish Government still has no plans to include non-binary self-identification. Having to pick either male or female on official documents can be so demoralising. For those of us living outside the gender binary, it feels like we’re being forgotten once again.”

For people who identify beyond ‘male’ and ‘female’, this kind of recognition is vital. The legal recognition would be an aid in pressuring other organisations who do not allow for genders beyond the binary – though perhaps better still would be the elimination of gender from default data gathering in irrelevant fields. There is really no need for the library to know or care about a person’s gender, after all. 

Featured Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Eduardo Lima

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Student journalist & freelance writer

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