Guide to the Scottish consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act
Please listen to this 5 minute video first!
The UK government announced last year that the 2004 Gender Recognition Act will be reformed to make it easier and quicker for transgender people to apply for legal recognition of their preferred gender. The change will remove the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and the requirement for someone to prove they have been ‘living in role’ for at least two years. The UK government has said it will consult on these changes; we are still awaiting the consultation.
Meanwhile, the Scottish government has also announced its intention to reform the gender recognition laws for Scotland. In addition to changing the process to one of self-declaration they also support reducing the age of applicants from 18 to 16 years old. They are also considering new arrangements to enable applications by, or on behalf of, children under the age of 16 and to introduce greater recognition of non-binary people.
Adopting a new system for legal gender recognition in Scotland would require an Act of the Scottish Parliament. Scotland can use its devolved powers to enact changes largely independent of the UK government and has already started its own consultation process. This consultation is open to everyone and is not restricted to Scottish nationals or those resident in Scotland.
Fair Play For Women is a UK-focused campaign group and is concerned that the rights of our Scottish women and children are under threat from these changes. The purpose of this article is to promote awareness of the consultation and to discuss the issues surrounding the proposals and the reasons why we oppose the changes. We have also produced a single-page factsheet setting out the key facts.
We will be submitting our own views and evidence to this consultation process. However, everyone who cares about this issue must fill in the on-line survey before it closes at 5pm on Thursday 1st March 2018. We hope this article inspires you to do so!
The on-line consultation questionnaire is here
The single-page factsheet is here
2) Why does Scotland want to reform its gender laws?
Scotland is currently covered by the UK-wide Gender Recognition Act 2004. This legislation is already fully compliant* with rulings made by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). There is no legal requirement to introduce any changes whatsoever. Nevertheless there has been a strong international push towards the de-medicalisation of gender identity over the past few years. This appears to be more of a change in social attitudes rather than being the result of any change in evidence-based understanding.
*The minimum requirements for members of the European Council is that some form or legal recognition process much be in place (Goodwin vs UK 2002) and that gender reassignment surgery must not be a legal requirement (Garçon and Nicot v. France).
2.1) Other European countries have introduced a self-declaration process:
A number of European countries have recently introduced new laws to enable legal gender change by a process of self-declaration and some have also extended these rights to children. Self-declaration is hailed as progressive and no doubt the Scottish government wants Scotland to be seen as one of these shining examples of small nations leading the way in transgender rights.
|Self-declaration introduced||Minimum Age||Gender change for children|
|Malta||2015||16+||Any age if application made by parents and approved by the courts|
|Belgium||2017||18+||16-17 if supported by parents, psychiatrist and court|
|Norway||2013||16+||From 6-16 years old if supported by parents.|
|Republic Ireland||2015||18+||16-17 if supported by parents, psychiatrist and court|
2.2) International pressure:
In 2014 Amnesty International published a report calling for all governments to de-medicalise and speed up the process of legal gender change and abolish age restrictions.
In 2015, Resolution 2048 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe expressed concerns that requiring someone seeking legal recognition of their acquired gender to have been medically treated or diagnosed is a breach of their right to respect for their private life under Article 8 of the ECHR. Members of the assembly voted 68 in favour with 23 against and 12 abstentions.
A resolution is not legal binding, but rather the expression of an opinion or view held collectively by the assembly. The resolution also calls on all 47 member States to introduce quick and accessible procedures for legal gender recognition, based on self-determination irrespective of age. They also suggest States consider a third gender option for those who seek it (non-binary).
3) What changes can Scotland legally make for themselves?
3.1) Changes to Gender Recognition law:
Some powers have been devolved to the Scottish government while others are still reserved under the UK government. The process of applying for legal recognition of gender is a devolved matter but some aspects of law that impact on gender recognition are still reserved for the UK government.
When the 2004 Gender Recognition Act was drafted the Scottish parliament decided to allow the UK to legislate on its behalf, through what is called a Sewel Motion. The advantage being a consistent UK-wide approach to gender recognition and it enabled Scotland to become compliant with the ECHR ruling more quickly than if it had legislated separately.
However, it now seems likely that the Scottish government may choose to use its devolved powers to legislate sooner or differently to the rest of the UK. This may be through enactment of its own Scottish Gender Recognition Act or making Scottish-specific amendments to the existing GRA2004. The preferred legislative process will depend largely on the way Scotland chooses to handle legal gender recognition in the future, pending the outcome of the consultation, and also if, when or how the UK government proceeds with its own plans to reform the gender recognition process.
Some issues will need to be discussed and agreed with the UK government. For instance, will a Scottish GRC be sufficient to obtain a birth certificate by someone born elsewhere in the UK. Will a GRC issued under the GRA 2004 continue to be recognised for people in Scotland. It is also intended that the existing Gender Recognition Register held by the Registrar General for the UK would continue to be used in the proposed self-declaration system.
Scottish Government would intend that, in future, automatic recognition should be granted in Scotland where a person’s acquired gender has been legally recognised in another country, including elsewhere in the UK. Some safeguards would be in place to refuse gender recognition acquired from another country if there were serious concerns about the process or in a specific case. If disputed the Scottish courts would be required to determine the matter. The Scottish Government may need to discuss this proposed approach with the UK Government, given the potential implications for reserved matters, given that a person with legal recognition in Scotland may travel or move to other parts of the UK.
Scotland will also need to consult with the Northern Ireland Executive about the recognition of people with a Scottish GRC there. Scotland can’t require other countries to recognise a Scottish GRC but will obviously encourage them to do so.
3.2) Changes to Equality law:
The 2010 Equality Act is largely reserved but the Scottish government does have the power to legislate and impose duties on Scottish (or cross-boarder) public authorities in relation to their impact on Scottish functions.
Changes that make it easier to obtain legal recognition of gender in Scotland therefore may require the Scottish government to ask the UK government to make amendments to the Equality Act 2010 and other UK-wide legislation.
The Scottish government is not seeking to amend the exemptions in the Equality Act 2010 that makes it lawful for a) an approved celebrant to refuse to marry or register the civil partnership for a person who the celebrant reasonably believes holds a GRC or b) a religious body to impose restrictions on the employment of a transsexual person (with or without a GRC) in a limited range of roles (e.g. minister of religion)
Interestingly, there is no reference to Scotland’s commitment to maintaining the legal single-sex exceptions for services, communal accommodation and sports. The single sex exemptions are summarised in this factsheet here. It is important to highlight in this consultation that Scottish women need these exemptions maintained and strengthened.
Any increased recognition of non-binary people might require the Scottish Government to discuss with the UK Government whether any amendments can be made to the definition of the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.
4) ISSUES COVERED IN THE CONSULTATION:
4.1) Should Scotland move to a self-declaration system?
|Question 1||The initial view of Scottish Government is that applicants for legal gender recognition should no longer need to produce medical evidence or evidence that they have lived in their acquired gender for a defined period. The Scottish Government proposes to bring forward legislation to introduce a self-declaratory system for legal gender recognition instead. Do you agree or disagree?|
|Question 2||Should applicants to the proposed gender recognition system in Scotland have to provide a statutory declaration confirming they know what they are doing and intend to live in their acquired gender until death?|
|Question 3||Should there be a limit on the number of times a person can get legal gender recognition?|
The current process for legal gender change is set out in the table below. This is compared to the changes proposed by the Scottish Government intended to speed up and de-medicalise the process.
|Current process in the UK (Assessment system): Applicants must:||Requirements under self-declaration system:|
|Prove they have or have had gender dysphoria,||no|
|Have lived in the acquired gender throughout the period of two years||no|
|Make a statutory declaration before a person authorised to take
oaths that they intend to continue to live in the acquired gender until death,
|Must provide evidence by a report made by a registered medical practitioner or registered psychologist practising in the field of gender dysphoria AND a report made by another registered medical practitioner (who may, but need not, practise in that field)||no|
|Applications considered by a tribunal called
the Gender Recognition Panel
to be processed by an administrative body
In an attempt to reduce the frequency of regret or frivolous applications some countries also incorporate a period of reflection and require with the applicant to confirm their application a number of months later before the full GRC is granted. It is also a criminal offence to provide material falsehoods as part of a statutory declaration. The Scottish government may also decide to limit the number of times gender can be changed under a self-declaration system. There are already rules in place to limit the number and frequency of changes that a person can make to their birth certificate. (The current assessment system under the GRA 2004 does not need to restrict the number of times that a person can apply for a GRC).
Although the process for obtaining a GRC is proposed to be changed the legal consequence of having a GRC will not. Having a GRC will still mean the person’s gender becomes FOR ALL PURPOSES the acquired gender. If the acquired gender is male, the persons sex becomes that of a man (and vice versa). All the legal exemptions set out in the GRA 2004 are expected to be retained; parenthood, inheritance, religious roles, peerages, sport, gender-specific offences. However, it is important that respondents show support for these exemptions. More information on the GRA 2004 is here.
Based on the experiences of other small countries, the Scottish government estimates that the numbers of applications from people either born, adopted or resident in Scotland, would increase from an average of 25 per year under the GRA 2004 to be in the range of 250 to 400 applications per year (a 10-16 fold increase).
The majority of associated costs have already been incurred with the introduction and set up of the 2004 Act. No contribution is currently sought from Scotland towards the running of the Gender recognition panel. If Scotland implements its own administrative process for GRC’s there would be one-off costs associated with IT systems, application forms and for training and familiarisation events for staff dealing with applications. It is currently estimated that these set-up costs would be in the range of £250,000 to £300,000. Based on the assumption that the number of applications will not exceed 400 per year, it is estimated that the running costs of a self-declaration system would be £100,000 per year (potentially offset if a fee were charged).
|a few extra things to think about….|
Transgender people are protected from discrimination as set out in the Equality Act 2010. The definition of someone covered on the basis of gender reassignment is wide-ranging and based on the principle of self-declaration. Anyone is covered if they ‘are proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning a persons sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex’. This means that anyone who considers themselves transgender can now expect to be treated according to their preferred gender. There are a number of legal exemptions that can be used to protect women but effectively in everyday life transgender people are well accommodated under the law. So much so in fact that many transgender people do not bother to get legal recognition of their gender with a GRC. There have only been 287 GRC’s issues in Scotland since legal gender change became possible in 2004.
There are a few, but crucially important reasons, why legally changing sex on your birth certificate can be advantageous and desirable. Having a GRC means a transgender person officially becomes a member of the opposite sex and will be protected by sex-based laws in addition to gender reassignment laws. This mean for example a transwoman with a GRC will be legally female and eligible to apply for a position on an all women shortlist for the selection of election candidates by a political party. This is a positive discrimination measure originally designed for natal females. Natal females suffer a unique type of discrimination and disadvantage due to their female biology and place growing up within a patriarchal system (career breaks to have children, caring responsibilities, lower career expectations, women are not seen as leaders, sexism etc). If changing legal sex becomes as easy as filling in a form this means that any man, if he chooses, can change legal sex and will automatically become eligible for the AWS. This undermines the whole principle of the AWS and is strongly opposed by many women’s groups, including Fair Play For Women.
By far the most dangerous consequence of unregulated legal change of sex is in prisons. Under Scottish Prison Service (SPS) rules a male prisoner who has been granted a legal change of sex to female is automatically eligible for transfer to a women’s prison. The introduction of a completely unregulated self-declaration process of legal sex change will mean any male prisoner, if he chooses, could change legal sex and get transferred and live amongst the women prisoners. Men and women are normally housed separately in prison for obvious safety reasons.
There has already been an example of the inevitable consequence of letting male-bodied people in with women prisoners. Paris Green, a convicted murderer, had to be moved from Cornton Vale women’s prison after having sex with the female prisoners. There is also evidence from the prison service for England and Wales that a disproportionately high proportion of transgender prisoners are convicted of sex offences. Caution must be observed introducing a law that will allow sex offenders unregulated access to women in prisons. Under a self-declaration system the future size of the transgender-identifying male population housed in women’s prisons is likely to rise significantly. Even if just a small % of all male prisoners choose to transfer this will have a large impact because women represent such a tiny proportion of the prison estate in Scotland (approx 5%).
The rights of prison staff should also be considered. Prisoners have the right to have full body searches performed by a member of the same sex. This will mean female prison officers will be obliged to perform more and more intimate body searches of potentially violent and aggressive males who become legally female. There has already been examples of this system being abused in Scottish prisons.
Self-declaration is bad law and has not been thought through. In some cases it will be right for a transwomen to serve her sentence in a female prison, but allowing this in an unregulated manner is simply wrong. It is not only sex-offending males who may self-declare themselves as women under the proposed reforms to the GRA. Any male prisoner, whatever their crime, be it domestic violence against women, murder and torture of women, or any other offence, could self-declare themselves as female and demand to be moved to a female prison. For this reason, Fair Play For Women strongly opposes the introduction of a self-declaration process for legal gender change. Some form of official gate-keeping must be retained.
The republic of Ireland introduced self-declaration of legal gender in 2015. Transactivists say there have been no issues there so women are worrying over nothing. What they fail to mention is that Irish prisons ONLY allocate prisoners based on birth sex. That’s why they have not seen major problems – NOT because the system isn’t being abused – it’s because it can’t.
|Question 4||If the Scottish Government takes forward legislation to adopt a self-declaration system for legal gender recognition, should this arrangement be open only to people whose birth or adoption was registered in Scotland, or who are resident in Scotland OR to everyone?|
|Question 10||Are any changes to section 22 (prohibition on disclosure of information) necessary?|
|Question 11||Should a person who has been recognised in their acquired gender under the law of another jurisdiction be automatically recognised in Scotland without having to make an application?|
The Scottish Government’s preferred option is to restrict applications to those born (or adopted) in Scotland and to people resident in Scotland. They also intend to automatically recognise the legal gender of people who already have legal recognition from the UK and other countries. However, they are also considering allowing ANYONE to come to Scotland and get a gender recognition certificate. This would be a huge departure from Scottish processes which normal require habitual residence for eligibility. Having a Scottish GRC however would not necessarily be recognised by other countries so the value of this may be limited.
IMPORTANT: It is extremely likely that the UK government WILL legally recognise the validity of a Scottish GRC. This means that people will be able to obtain a GRC in Scotland and then be legally recognised as the opposite sex throughout the whole of the UK. This will impact everyone in the UK and could represent GRA reform by the back door for England and Wales without further consultation. This may be the only chance women in England and Wales get to express their views. Also, once Scotland has introduced GRA reforms it will be used as a reason for the rest of the UK to follow to unify the process. This affects EVERY woman in the UK – we must all speak up now before its too late.
Section 22 of the GRA 2004 is intended to protect the privacy of people have a GRC and it is an offence for officials to disclosed this information. There are exceptions when disclosure is for the purpose of crime prevention or detection, required for social security or pensions, or for use in court proceedings. In Scotland there are already additional exemptions allowing disclosure for the purpose of obtaining legal advice, made to medical professionals for medical purposes, made by a credit reference agency, made in relation to bankruptcy or insolvency, and when made to enable a decision about the appointment of the subject as a minister of religion.
The trouble is, if you can’t ask someone whether they have a GRC or not (or even transgender) it means we cannot distinguish between a male-born transgender person who is now legally female or just a man dressed up as women. So this means there’s no way to check if someone really is legally female before letting them into female-only spaces. This opens the door to men just chancing their luck without even having to get a GRC. Merely the possibility that someone can self-declare they are legally female will signal the end of women having their own spaces.
There is no point in a GRC if you never have to show it and this is basically the back door for losing our spaces to anyone who says they are a woman without EVEN having to fill in a form.
4.2) Should changes be made to spousal consent?
|Question 7||Should it be possible to apply for and obtain legal gender recognition
without any need for spousal consent?
|Question 8||Civil partnership is only available to same sex couples. This means that the
civil partners cannot remain in their civil partnership if one of them wishes
to obtain a full Gender Recognition Certificate.
Should they instead be allowed to remain in their civil partnership? This
would mean that a woman and a man would be in the civil partnership.
|Question 9||Should legal gender recognition stop being a ground of divorce or
Under the current system a married person requires the consent of their spouse so a GRC can be granted. Alternatively, in the absence of spousal consent an interim GRC is granted and the couple can either get divorced (using the interim GRC as grounds for divorce) or an application can be made to the Sheriffs court to order that a full GRC is granted. The latter is a option only available in Scotland however no applications have ever been made since this rule was introduced. If someone is in a civil partnership, current rules mean they must first end the civil partnership and apply as a single person or they can convert their union to a marriage. The reason a GRC cannot be issued to someone in a civil partnership is that mixed-sex partnerships are not allowed.
In a future system, when obtaining a GRC is an administrative process rather than involving tribunal to approve or reject an application, the option of an interim GRC will not be possible. It is proposed instead that spousal consent will be abandoned and an exception made to allow a civil partnership to be mixed-sex due to gender change. If a spouse or civil partner does not wish the union to continue they will need to divorce or end the contract.
|a few extra things to think about….|
Removing the need for a spouse to consent to the legal gender change of their partner will be welcomed by some. It can be argued that it has given a spouse an unfair amount of power to unreasonably withhold consent from their transgender partner. However, in Scotland (unlike elsewhere in the UK) a court can overrule the need for spousal consent if necessary and there have in fact been no instances of the courts needing to intervene in this way so perhaps this is a solution to a non-existent problem. Nevertheless, the principle of adult personal autonomy means that no one should hold the power to delay or block and important life change such as legal gender recognition.
It is also fair however that the rights and feelings of the spouse of a transgender person must also be respected. For example when a women gets married to a man, and their husband changes his legal gender to female, this effectively converts the union to a same-sex marriage. Her marriage has fundamentally and dramatically changed from the marriage she entered into and that must be sensitively acknowledged. The wife may have religious beliefs or many other reasons why she no longer wishes to remain in, what is now, a same-sex marriage. She may not wish for her perceived sexual orientation to be changed in this way. It is easy to say that she can just end the marriage but there are a number of reasons why this may adversely impact her. Divorce may not be an easy option if it is against her religious beliefs, as is the case with devout Catholics. There will be costs and time associated with a divorce. What if she is financially dependent on her husband? What if the wife is a foreign national? Getting divorced may affect her right to stay in the UK which would get more complicated if there are children involved. Will she be granted an independent status (and work permit) or will she lose residency and be sent back to country of origin. It may be argued that in some cases women may be to forced against their will to stay married to men who identify as women. It is also true to say that these scenarios are more likely to happen to women rather than men and so may be unfairly discriminating on the grounds of sex.
What is easy to miss in the changes proposed by the Scottish government, is that self-declaration and the abolition of the interim GRC will remove this as a route to divorce. In Scotland there are currently two distinct routes for divorce; through obtaining an interim GRC or that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The latter will be the only option open to couples if the changes go ahead. For a marriage to have broken down irretrievably the petitioner must cite at least one of these four reasons. The spouse has behaved unreasonably, committed adultery, the couple have lived apart for at least one year and both agree to the divorce, or the couple have lived apart for at least two years but one doesn’t agree to the divorce. Would a court accept her reason that legal gender change was a form of unreasonable behaviour? Would this be considered transphobic? This raises many ethical dilemmas.
Arguably the change to a marriage due to one partner changing legal gender is so fundamental that is should be considered grounds for an automatic divorce with no blame attributed. This can be accomplished by making the application for a full GRC as a route to divorce and is another option the Scottish government should give serious consideration to.
4.3) Should children be allowed to legally change gender too?
|Question 5||The Scottish Government proposes that people aged 16 and 17 should be
able to apply for and obtain legal recognition of their acquired gender. Do
you agree or disagree?
|Question 6||Which of the identified options for children under 16 do you most
favour? Please select only one answer.
Option 1 – do nothing for children under 16
Option 2 – court process
Option 3 – parental application
Option 4 – minimum age of 12
Option 5 – applications by capable children
None of these options
The Scottish government wants to reduce the age someone can apply for legal gender recognition. Its intention is to allow 16 and 17 year old children access to the self-declaration system (the GRA 2004 currently limits gender change to adults of 18 and over). This is in line with the age young people can exercise other rights under the law in Scotland such as getting married and voting in Scottish elections.
They also want to allow under 16s to be able to legally change their sex, either independently or with consent from a court or parents. In these options is will be possible for a child who has not yet reached puberty to legally change sex.
Based on the number of child applications in other small countries, fewer than 15 children might be expected to apply per year in Scotland (out of 250-400 applications).
|Minimum age 16||Self-declaration available from age 16|
|Court* decision for under 16s||Court decides following application made by the child or parents.|
|Parental application for under 16s||Both parents self-declare on behalf of child (any age)|
|Minimum age 12||Self-declaration available from age 12|
|Application by capable child||Self-declaration by child at any age if deemed to have capacity to make an informed decision.|
*There might be startup costs of £650,000 and then running costs of £300,000 a year for a new Scottish tribunal dealing with such applications
|a few extra things to think about….|
The concept of gender identity is already introduced in schools despite this teaching being backed by no credible science. Changing gender is presented as synonymous with changing sex. This has an impact on children’s health and learning. The introduction of a process of legal gender change for children is strongly opposed by Fair Play For Women.
Irrespective of whether a child actually changes their legal sex status or not, the message that adult society condones legal sex change for children will inevitably increase the likelihood that some will want to explore a transition process themselves. This may be right for some, but not for others, and they may live to regret the choices they made when young. Childhood transition can and does have serious and lifelong consequences and as adults we have a duty of care to protect children from harm.
Adults are free to make autonomous choices about their lives, but children are stilling learning and developing. Children can’t give ‘informed consent’ for ‘choices’ that they don’t have the life experience to consent to. The re-framing of children as reflexive, informed, choice-making individuals is fundamentally flawed when it comes to gender identity. The impact of transgender ideology on normal childhood development is comprehensively discussed by Transgender Trend. It is clear that affirmation of a child’s gender identity by parents and trusted adults can and will impact the outcome. In the absence of long-term studies to the contrary, there is a real danger that well-meaning parents and teachers may inadvertently push children down a transgender route. The risks are too great and this means children, parents, professionals or courts should not be given the power to facilitate legal sex change for any child. Even if a child of 16 or 17 years old is presenting as certain he or she wants to change their legal sex any undue influence at an earlier age cannot be ruled out.
Child Development and the understanding of concepts
(extract taken from schools resource by Transgender Trend)
|Man/lady/boy/girl categories are understood from about age 2-3, coming in after big/small in the development of understanding of opposites. He/she pronouns are understood from about 3 years. Abstract language doesn’t begin until age 5-6. Before this age, children think being male or female is what people look like (hair, clothes etc). In terms of ‘gender’ children have only a concrete understanding, linked to what people look like and do. They have no idea of sex or how babies are made. Children of this age do not link ideas of boy/girl/male/female to penis/vagina but to appearance/roles assigned. Children cannot understand the difference between ‘gender’ as a social concept of masculine/feminine (ie an abstract idea) and ‘sex’ as a concrete classification of male/female based on primary sex characteristics and reproductive function.|
|For a 4 -5 year old child, ‘girls’ literally means the people who wear hair slides. A boy who likes to wear hair slides/princess costumes or likes playing with dolls therefore may think this means he is a girl. His belief is reinforced through parental messages – “that’s for girls” – together with the messages from the extreme gendered toy/clothes/books marketing of the past decade, especially through images of only girls playing with certain toys which he sees on toy packaging/tv ads. (Images are processed 17,000 times faster than words, at a primitive level in the brain, ie: seeing is believing: for children, images ‘imprint’ at the deepest level).|
|To put it another way, children’s concept of boy/girl is based on stereotypes. Children are busy classifying everything into categories, the first stage of which is to form an idea of a fixed stereotype. Throughout early childhood children themselves will be rigidly policing and enforcing the gender/sex-role stereotype on both themselves and their peers. As they mature into later stage childhood children begin to accept variations and subtle shades of grey in place of the strict black and white interpretations they initially form. Parents and teachers can help children mature in this way by challenging stereotypes and preventing bullying of any child who is different.|
|Transgender lobby groups such as Gendered Intelligence use the terms ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ interchangeably to mean ‘gender’ – biological sex is not explained or acknowledged as material fact. Their message to children, through PSHE classes in schools, is that you can ‘choose’ your sex, a message they obscure through the use of the word ‘gender.’ This consolidates a 4-5 year-old child’s stereotype level of thinking and reinforces the gender and sex-role stereotyping messages of the toy industry. Children are encouraged to think they may be a boy or a girl based on their toy and clothes preferences; that ‘sex’ is fluid and ‘gender identity’ is the fixed (and innate) reality. A boy who likes to wear hair slides really may be a girl.|
|It is estimated that as many as 1% of children think they are the opposite sex, with a further 3% of boys and 5% of girls choosing activities/interests more commonly associated with the opposite sex. Over 80% of children who think they are the opposite sex will come to terms with their natal sex by the end of adolescence and achieve emotional and psychological stability. A significant proportion of these children will be gay or lesbian.|
|If children are actively taught to ignore biological sex as irrelevant and instead form their identity on a subjective ‘feeling’ based on gendered choices and behaviours, we will create ‘trans’ children through constant reinforcement and affirmation of their ‘preferred gender’ by parents, teachers and peer groups.|
|To base your own identity and sense of self on a disembodied idea of your ‘real’ sex in opposition to your body’s sex creates a disconnect between mind and body, which is a precursor for mental ill-health. This disconnect is the definition of ‘gender dysphoria,’ so in effect groups like G.I. are actively encouraging children to be gender dysphoric and to see this condition as normal. Children are taught to view their own bodies as ‘wrong’ and in need of fixing, rather than being helped to achieve mind-body integration through sensitive and non-judgemental support, waiting and watching. Children are set on a lifetime course of being in conflict with their own bodies (which self-appointed ‘gender specialists’ and the Pharmaceutical industry promise to ‘fix’ but never really can: no matter how much surgery you endure, a male cannot be changed into a female and vice versa).|
|No part of a child’s identity is fixed at birth, a child develops identity (or Self) through interaction with the environment. Genetic inheritance from parents is acknowledged to be around 45% of who you are, with around 55% being environmental influence and learning. In other words, a baby is born with a genetic potential in terms of personality/interests/aptitudes, which is then developed further through social interaction. The brain is literally built through this interplay between genetics and environment.|
|As ‘gender’ is a social idea of masculine and feminine behaviours and aptitudes (which changes from culture to culture) no child can possibly have an ‘innate’ gender identity, as social rules, ideas and influences are not experienced in the womb.|
|Affirming that a boy is really a girl is an active choice to influence, condition, or indoctrinate him into the belief that he is really a ‘she,’ based on the idea that ‘girl’ is a feeling in your head and not a biological sex category. This is an ideology, based on no reliable scientific evidence, which redefines the meaning of the words ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ to subjective ideas based on personality, and not correct biological classifications.|
|‘Girl’ and ‘boy’ are now stereotypes. Teaching this to children in schools as fact contradicts all the work teachers do to challenge those stereotypes which especially hold back girls.|
Essential safeguards if legal gender change is extended to under 18s:
What would the legal process in each scenario be for reversing the decision? It is important that whatever legal process was chosen it must not be seen as overly burdensome to the individual? The ability for a child to change their mind back must be quick and easy. Legal gender change should also be confirmed at age 18. The decision made as a child or by parents should not automatically transfer over to the adult.
4.4) Should there be more recognition of a non-binary status?
|Question 12||Should Scotland take action to recognise non-binary people?|
|Question 13||If you answered Yes to Question 12, which of the identified options to give
recognition to non-binary people do you support? You can select more
than one option.
Option 1: Changes to administrative forms
Option 2: Book of Non-binary Identity
Option 3: Limited document changes
Option 4: Full recognition using proposed self-declaration system
Option 5: Incremental approach
Option 6: Amendment of the Equality Act 2010
None of the above options
|Question 14||At paragraph 7.26. and in Annex J* we have identified the consequential
legal impacts if non-binary people could obtain legal gender recognition
using the proposed self-declaration system.
Are you aware of other impacts we have not identified?
*legal impacts discuss above.
In a study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission asking 10,000 people from the UK how they identify 0.4% reported that they identified in another way from man or woman. Based on the current size of the Scottish population (approx 5 million) this would represent in the region of 20,000 non-binary people. It is not possible currently to accurately identify the costs involved in the recognition of non-binary people, as much depends on exactly which option(s) are chosen. However, some options will require quite significant updating of IT systems
|Changes to administrative forms||Public bodies would be required to remove from forms any unnecessary requests for information about sex or gender and/or include an option inclusive on non-binary people|
|Book of Non-binary Identity||Non-binary people could formally enter their name in a register, although this would have no legal significance.|
|Limited document changes||Non-binary option in passports and driving licences (reserved matter so would need to be agreed with UK government). Non-binary option for NHS scotland index system.|
|Full recognition using proposed self-declaration system||Recognition of non-binary people as an additional legal sex along with male and female through granting of a GRC (although this may not necessarily be recognised outside Scotland)|
|Incremental approach||Options 1-3 plus a duty on Scottish minister to increasing non-binary recognition further in the future.|
|Amendment of the Equality Act 2010||Broaden the scope of the protected characteristic of gender reassignment to include all gender identities (reserved so needs UK agreement)|
*Scottish Prison Service has estimated that the cost of a new small prison unit for 20-30 people might be between £8.7 million and £10.7 million.
|a few extra things to think about….|
When someone says they are non-binary it means they do not conform to entirely male or entirely female gender stereotypes. They are a mixture of both or none. This represents virtually everyone in the UK! Non-binary is not a biological state of being. It is not an intersex condition. It merely reflects someone’s gender preferences. Feminists have rejected the concept of gender for decades. Gender is a set of man-made rules that says how a man or a woman should behave or present and should have no place in modern society and we all should, and mostly do, reject all or part of these gender rules some or most of the time. Nevertheless social norms make it hard to do this completely. We are all non-binary. Where the concept has today gone awry is to conflate gender with biological sex. For this reason it is a legal and biological nonsense to equate this to being a third sex category. For this reason Fair Play For Women strongly opposes the full recognition of a non-binary status using the self-declaration system and a GRC. The societal consequences of legal recognition of a third sex are many and discussed below:
4.4.1 Impact on single-sex spaces and services:
There are many reasons why, as a society and in certain circumstances, we choose to maintain different spaces and services for men and women. Toilets, changing rooms, occupational roles, hospital wards, prisons, choosing the sex of who provides intimate or medical care are just a few examples. Reasons of safety, privacy, dignity, fairness are all legitimate reasons that some women value. To accommodate a legal third sex would require setting up new and separate non-binary specific services, a change to gender neutral services (e.g. mixed sex) and/or the ability for non-binary people to choose whether a male or female service would suit them best in a specific circumstance. All of these would impact on the men and women who currently choose and prefer single-sex spaces. All three of these changes are just different names for what that effectively means males and females having access to the same space. A non-binary prison is really a mixed-sex prison with males and females. Non-binary status does not stop a female person getting pregnant or raped. Gender neutral toilets are really just fancy way of letting males in while women and girls try to perform their personal business in private. Does a girl really want her male classmates listening to and giggling at her unwrapping the tampon she is about to insert into her vagina? Gender neutral means mixed-sex and sex discrimination laws legal recognise and protect single sex spaces for women. Legal recognition through either a third sex category or changing the protected characteristic of gender reassignment to include non-binary people in Equality law threatens to undermine these existing rights for women.
4.4.2 Medical implications:
Many aspects of medical care are based on someone’s biological sex. Drugs can act differently on male and female bodies. Health care screening is based on biological sex; females being called for breast examinations and cervical smears. Males at risk from prostate cancer. By formally designating a person a third sex or simply not revealing which of the two biological sex categories they belong to will have medical risks. We cannot escape our biology.
4.4.3 Cost to business:
The financial risk assessment accompanying this consultation paper does not provide any estimates for how much increased recognition of non-binary people would cost. It is stated that this cannot be done as it is unknown which option will be pursued. It is also very likely that costings have not been published because it is so complex and far-reaching that it is not possible to quantify and will be disproportionately high. The cost to businesses to implement the required changes to facilities and changes to IT systems will be considerable. Many systems rely on male and female designations like the PAYE system at HM Revenue and customs. There would need to be a major overhaul in so many areas. But for what? How does this help the estimated 20,000 male and female people in Scotland who identify as non-binary? Is it reasonable to expect society to accommodate the feelings and preferences of 0.4% of the population when there is no credible evidence to suggest they are harmed by not doing so?
4.4.4 Sex-based laws and customs:
Accommodating a third sex will impact on many laws that are based on the existence of the male and female binary. Family law and considerations of parentage rights and basic terms like husband and wife. There would need to be a new category of marriage for non-binary people. New categories added to the register of births, deaths and marriages. There would need to be a change to the definition of sex in the Equality Act. It will also have a major impact on the whole concept and legal meaning of sexual orientation and gay and lesbian identities. This is a not just a small change to progress the rights of an supposedly oppressed minority. This will touch and have relevance to everybody’s lives.
The most basic of all demographic statement, the population pyramid, will be impossible if male and female is not accurately recorded, thus rendering a whole range of other demographic statements impossible, and adversely impacting age-standardised morality rates that are vital for epidemiology and public health. This will have real-life impacts such that local incidence rates won’t be able to be compared against the national average and it will be impossible to understand where services need to change, or public initiative on the local level need to happen. Inaccurate recording of sex undermines a whole discipline of statistical population analysis. Of course, the easy counter claim is that the number of people choosing legal non-binary status or choosing not to declare their binary sex on forms will have negligible over all impact. The current estimate of 20,000 non-binary people in Scotland is a drop in the ocean compared to the 5 million people resident there. This may be true today, but exactly the same arguments were used to justify legal recognition of transgender people in 2004 when the Gender Recognition Act was debated. At that time the Act was thought to impact a mere 5000 people and therefore have little consequence to other areas of life. Yet over the past decade or so this figure has increased exponentially and in a way that was totally unexpected. It is not enough to say numbers are small so don’t worry. Numbers can change overnight but laws do not.
4.5) What impact will any changes to the law have on others?
|Question 15||Do you have any comments about, or evidence relevant to:
(a) the partial Business and Regulatory Impact Assessment (ANNEX L)
(b) the partial Equality Impact Assessment (ANNEX N)
(c) partial Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (ANNEX M)
(d) the partial Privacy Impact Assessment? (ANNEX O)
|Question 16||Do you have any further comments about the review of the Gender
Recognition Act 2004?
As part of the consultation the Scottish Government has initiated a number of impact assessments based on business, children rights, equality and privacy. Each of the partial impact assessments can be found in the Annex section at the end of this consultation document. The assessments focusing on children’s rights and Equality are particularly important yet woefully inadequate and based on the biased assumption that this law only impacts the transgender community and has virtually no adverse impact on others. There is a question in the consultation asking for feedback on each of the assessments. It is important that concerns are clearly voice here in particular with regards to children and other groups protected by Equality law. The adverse impacts are discussed below.
4.5.1 Partial Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) sets out the fundamental rights of all children and young people. The UK ratified the UNCRC in 1991 and the Scottish government now uses it as a framework to consider children’s rights when making policy decisions. The Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA) is used to ensure that all policies, measures and legislation protect and promote the wellbeing of children and young people.
Reducing the age of legal gender recognition to allow children to change their legal sex designation has the potential to have a major impact on the wellbeing of children. Fair Play For Women strongly opposes reducing the age from 18. Children are already able to socially transition with the support of their parents and schools and their right to do this is protected under the Equality Act. There is nothing that a child who identifies as transgender cannot currently do due to the lack of legal gender recognition. The nationwide NHS Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) supports ‘watchful waiting’ for children as their thoughts and feelings around gender develops and matures. Confirming and fixing their views during childhood through a legal gender change process is clearly counter to the methods of gender professionals who specialise in children. Transgender lobby groups who wish to see the law extended to include children are not child development specialists and will inevitably be biased regarding outcomes. The trajectory of a gender non-confirming child is complex. Some will develop into a gay or lesbian adult. Some will continue into adulthood as gender non-conforming some will not, both of which is very common and perfectly normal. Only some will progress into adults who identify as transgender. Transgender is NOT the only outcome and this must not be preferentially supported or encouraged or fixed. Legal gender change will do all these things and for that reason is not in the best interests of children. The table below highlights the Scottish government’s assessment of their proposed law change against some of the rights set out in the UNCRC. Alongside we have listed some additional factors that must also be considered if this assessment is to properly reflect the full impact on children (based on Impact Assessments conducted by Transgender Trend).
|Rights of the child:||Scottish government assessment (CRWIA)||things missing from the impact assessment|
|Article 3 (1). In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.||Article 3(1) will be relevant if the Scottish Government introduces an administrative procedure which allows children to change their legal sex.||Is it assumed that legal recognition of gender will be in the child’s best interest. How is it in a child’s best interest teach them a belief in place of facts; affirm them in an identity which will leave them sterilised and medicalised for life; force girls to share spaces with males and take away their right to recognise or name them as males; take away all children’s right to name biological reality?|
|Article 3 (2). States Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of his or her parents, legal guardians, or other individuals legally responsible for him or her, and, to this end, shall take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures.||Article 3(2) may be relevant because the evidence available to the Scottish Government suggests that in some cases, a child who changes their gender may later change their mind about the change.|
|Article 3 (3). States Parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall conform with the standards established by competent authorities, particularly in the areas of safety, health, in the number and suitability of their staff, as well as competent supervision.||Article 3(3) may be relevant in relation to health advice and treatment provided to transgender children and to children concerned about their gender identity.||The Scottish government has been advised solely by pro-trans organisations. These lobby groups provide training in schools and organisations yet have not credible qualifications to do so.|
|Article 13: The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child’s choice.||This article may be relevant in relation to transgender children. For example, the right could relate to receiving information about gender identity and the provisions of the law.||Gender affirmation ensures the denial of access to any other kind of information for children and forces schools and organisations to teach them exclusively an idea with no basis in science as ‘truth.’ Children would be denied the freedom to express thoughts and opinions which contradict gender identity ideology, such as pointing out that someone is male or defining a girl as a member of the female sex. Teachers and youth leaders would be obliged to silence such ‘opinions’|
|Article 17: States Parties recognise the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health.||Article 17 may be relevant in relation to transgender children. There may be actions the Scottish Government could take in relation to the supply of information to meet the needs of individual transgender children. There is also a wider point about educational material being available which recognises and educates children about
|No diversity of sources is permitted if gender affirmation is considered ‘best practice’ and dissent is considered transphobic. Gender identity ideology is harmful to children as evidenced by the exponential rise in referrals to gender clinics, the doubling in the number of children contacting Childline with worries about their ‘gender’ and the growth of the community of young adults who regret their decision to transition before they were mature enough to understand what they were really doing|
|Article 36: States Parties shall protect the child against all other forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child’s welfare.||No comment given||Children are being exploited by adult activists with a political agenda to enshrine their invented ‘born in the wrong body’ idea into law. Children who are experiencing cross-sex confusion and adolescents expressing normal gender and sexual exploration are being used as ‘evidence’ of an incoherent, untested and unscientific belief. Children and adolescents are unknowingly being used in an unacknowledged medical experiment in an untested area for which there exist no long-term medical research trials|
4.5.2 Partial Equality Impact Assessment
The purpose of an Equality Impact Assessment is to integrate consideration of equality and good relations into the day-to-day business of public authorities including the development of government policies. It is an essential part of Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and is a legal requirement set out in the Equality Act 2010.
If the Scottish government does not consider how a policy or law can affect different groups in different ways, it is unlikely to have the intended effect. This can contribute to greater inequality and poor outcomes. The general equality duty therefore requires organisations to consider how they could positively contribute to the advancement of equality and good relations. It requires equality considerations to be reflected into the design of policies and the delivery of services, including internal policies, and for these issues to be kept under review.
Despite its importance this partial Equality assessment produced by the Scottish government for this consultation is simplistic in its approach and covers not a single adverse impact! Public feedback here is probably one of the most important parts of this consultation. Four of the most affected protected characteristics are covered below. Each section begins with a copy of the Scottish governments assessment followed by discussion of the adverse impacts we have identified.
|a few extra things to think about….|
The impact assessment cites evidence that transgender people have a higher incidence of mental health issues than the general population but that these mental health issues are because of the prejudice and discrimination trans people face. While we agree that mental health issues are indeed high in transgender people there is no robust evidence to suggest this is simply down to the experience of prejudice.
The impact assessment also reports that there is evidence that transgender people’s mental health may benefit from socially transitioning to live in accordance with their gender identity. On the contrary, this area of understanding is far from clear. In the review paper cited to back up this claim it said “Almost all of the studies reviewed showed selection bias. Since most included only individuals attending transgender health-care services, the results can not be generalised to the overall trans population. Many studies are also limited by the inclusion of trans people at different stages of treatment. Longitudinal studies are also limited by lost-to-follow-up data and short follow-up time” also “The variability of tools to measure gender and body dysphoria does not allow firm conclusions to be drawn, and this suggests the need for a stronger measurement tool”. It is plainly wrong for the impact assessment to conclude from this that transgender people’s mental health therefore benefits from transitioning! The benefits of transitioning have only been self-reported by transgender people themselves in questionnaire based studies which are uncontrolled and not peer reviewed.
The impact assessment then goes on to say that this apparent evidence of a benefit to trans people means that the policy to streamline the legal gender recognition process might further reduce stigma and improve mental health. There is no evidence whatsoever to link the two. The research quoted outcomes after hormonal and surgery transitioning in gender dysphoric patients. Streamlining the process will mostly benefit people who are simply socially transitioning and not necessarily under medical supervision or have gender dysphoria. This is a weak supposition presented as fact and will confuse and mislead the majority of people filling in this form who will not check the source details.
In contrast to the claims made in the impact assessment that this policy will benefit the mental health of trans people there is published data showing suicide rates in fact continue to stay high after medical transition. Mental heath improves at first but 10-30 years post surgery outcomes are poor compared to controls. Death by suicide, suicide attempts and psychiatric hospitalisation rates are all high. A stronger evidence based, including long term data from other countries who use self-identification, is needed before anyone can claim this policy will benefit the mental health of trans people. It is disingenuous of the Scottish government to present this as if it were fact.
Learning disabilities, Autism and ADHD:
The assessment also highlights the risk that self-declaration of legal gender could present to a person with learning difficulties yet offers no practical solutions.
Alarmingly the assessment makes no reference whatsoever to the fact the 50% of children referred to the gender identity development clinic (Tavistock clinic in London) are on the Autistic spectrum. Other studies back this up reporting a 10 fold higher prevalence of gender dysphoria in children on the Autistic spectrum compared to control children. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was found in 75% of children with gender dysphoria in another study. Accepting a cross-sex self-identity at face value from any child or adolescent denies them the full level of care and assessment we would expect as part of ethical healthcare practice, but this is particularly true for young people on the autism spectrum or with other brain conditions which affect learning, including those who have experienced trauma, and those with psychiatric conditions. This presents a disproportional risk to this group of people and must be highlighted as such in the impact assessment so measures to minimise this risk can be put in place. An excellent article has written by a Speech and Language therapist discussing the importance of understanding the language used by someone with autism to be sure informed consent has actually been given.
It must also be acknowledged that some women with mental health problems have greater problems with men in their spaces- they may not fully understand the concept of legal vs biological sex and may react strongly to people they perceive as male. This will impact them in the care system and also public places where previously they have been separated from biological males. They will effectively be excluded from public space. Mumsnet had an story of a mum with Autistic daughters who could no longer go swimming because the boys in the women’s changing room triggered an extreme reaction. There was also the story in the Times about the woman on the secure mental health ward who will now think twice about seeking treatment. There may also be extra difficulties for women who have been sexually and physically abused by males which may prevent them seeking refuge. Women’s Aid are currently reviewing their transgender policy and may allow self-identifying transgender males on their staff.
Since self-declaration of legal gender will effectively mean anyone can choose to change their legal sex designation (and gain the rights of the opposite sex) is it frankly ludicrous that the Equality Assessment concludes there is no impact here! Not only is there clear evidence that adult males are historically more likely want to legally change gender (meaning this policy change will preferentially benefit males). There is also going to be a disproportionate negative impact on females that has been completely ignored.
Also, these changes will not be ‘promoting good relations’ – how supportive will women be when they come to realise that males will have the right to self-identify into their protected characteristic of the female sex. Sex discrimination laws are the basis upon which women have fought for their rights. It is fundamental that biological females have their own classification so that sex-based disadvantage can be monitored and addressed. These changes put women and trans people in conflict with each other and therefore will cause bad relations as is clearly already happening.
Government figures showing percentage of GRC granted
to trans-identified males (TIM) or trans-identified females (TIF).
Examples of negative impacts on the female sex:
|More young girls are struggling with gender identity issues than boys and so it is likely to be more girls in the future regretting childhood changes of legal gender.|
|Adult biological males who change their legal sex to female will, for example, be entitled to entry onto all women shortlists for selection of election candidates. This is a measure put in place for biological females to address hundreds of years of political misrepresentation. It is not for people who have grown up with male privilege and then transition in mid life. Other ways to address any under representation of other protected groups exist (reserved places) and should be used instead if there is a problem.|
|Biological females, by virtue of their physical biology and position within a patriarchal society, are at risk of physical and sexual violence from male-bodied people. The evidence is overwhelming here and why for example it is common sense that women are housed in separate prisons or wings to male prisoners. Yet this policy change will mean any male prisoner will be able to self-declare as female and become automatically entitled to live in a women prison. There is no evidence whatsoever that males who identify as transgender (genuinely or nefariously) pose any less of a risk to women than any other male. In fact, there is emerging evidence that a high proportional of the male inmates who identify as transgender have a history of sexual or violent crimes. The self-identification system is clearly open to abuse and presents a major risk to women prisoners and should be reason alone to never let this law get enacted. It is unthinkable that the Scottish government has not even discussed this risk in this consultation or impact assessment. The measures the Scottish government offers to offset any risk will be meaningless if any male can choose to become female. The protected category of the female sex will no longer be based on a shared sex! Nor will statistics on the impact of these polices be accurately recorded when they will also include legal females who are biologically male.|
22.214.171.124) SEXUAL ORIENTATION:
Once again none of the negative impacts on gay and lesbian people have even been raised in this assessment. By its very definition, if someone can change their legal sex they will also be technically changing their sexual orientation and the sexual orientation of their partner if they have one. For example a male who is attracted to females will legally become a female who is attracted to females. E.g. a straight man becomes a lesbian women. His wife or girlfriend will then find themselves in a sexual relationship with a lesbian and therefore technically become lesbians themselves. The ability to change legal sex has unavoidable and direct consequences on the protected characteristic of sexual orientation and this must not be ignored.
Trans-ideology is the belief that the subjective concept of gender identity overrides the objective reality of bodily sex. There is no evidence base for this. It is purely based on the feelings of the individual. This policy will codify this belief into law and prioritise this ideology over and above other widely held concepts such as the male and female sex binary. (This is not the same as a belief in a gender binary of course. Gender means sex roles not sex so the idea of gender fluidity is completely compatible with a sex binary). Gender-based transgender theory is therefore incompatible with sex-based sexual orientation theory (where sexual attraction is based on sex not gender). This conflict has real life adverse impacts on the homosexual community and in particularly lesbian women in many different ways:
|Examples of negative impacts on lesbian women:|
|Gender non-confirming children are more likely to be gay or lesbian and transgender. This policy will uniquely prioritise the transgender identity meaning that many girls who would have otherwise grown into young lesbians are instead deciding they are in fact straight boys. This is decimating the size of the lesbian community.|
|Many butch lesbians are feeling under pressure to transition to male. They are often mis-sexed as males or told they are in denial about wanting to be male. This is a form of homophobia and gay conversion and is a major issue that is being ignored. This policy does nothing to minimise this.|
|Lesbian-only spaces and group identities are being impacted. Straight males are transitioning to transwomen and referring to themselves as lesbians and joining lesbian groups. Transgender issues are then being prioritised over lesbian and women’s issues in those groups. These are important support communities for lesbians and it is likely to be discouraging new members from attending. This means they will not be accessing the important women-focused support these groups offer and lesbians are becoming isolated. If a lesbian women voiced any objection to her group being infiltrated by male-bodied lesbians she would most likely be asked to leave and considered transphobic. There are many examples of lesbians being shunned by the LGBT community both on-line and in real life.|
|The emphasis on gender rather that biological sex means that the LGBT community is becoming home for a much wider range of people. Straight people who have relationships with trans or non-binary people are calling themselves queer (despite being in a heterosexual male:female couple). These ‘queer’ woman become involved in what was formerly the lesbian and bisexual women’s community but have a lot of views that are contrary to the interests particularly of lesbians. They believe that lesbians have ‘cis’ privilege and also that lesbians (along with gay men) are the most privileged people in the LGBT community.|
|Male-bodied ‘lesbians’ with a penis are now commonly found in the lesbian dating pool (see any lesbian on-line dating site). The term ‘cotton ceiling’ refers to the pressure lesbians are under to accept male bodied people as sexual partners and to have penis in vagina sex. This is antithetical to many lesbians who are attracted to the female body and have rejected sex involving a penis. Not accepting a lesbian’s right to choose biological females only is directly homophobic. Ironically however, it is lesbians who are called transphobic and bigoted for not accepting penis within their sexual repertoire.|
|All of the above is also faced by gay men but to a much smaller extent. There is much less pressure from transmen to join gay men’s groups or to promote the idea than gay men should accept them as female-bodies sexual partners. In fact most transmen remain within the lesbian dating pool.|
126.96.36.199) GENDER REASSIGNMENT:
|a few extra things to think about….|
Even though this policy is fundamentally aimed at supporting transgender people there are still some negative impacts on this group that have been ignored in this assessment. Some members of the trans community do not see this as a positive step forward. Some transsexual people are clear that biological sex can’t be changed but prefer to live in role as the opposite sex to alleviate their gender dysphoria. Some trans people also see the value of a rigorous medical assessment before a GRC is approved. To remove this requirement devalues the process they themselves have been through. There is also the real danger that the general public will not respect the legitimacy of a transgender person when it’s clear that literally anyone can change their legal gender. Gate-keeping processes protect both transgender and non-transgender people alike.
Also gender non-conforming children are under pressure. Children cannot get proper therapy to examine their issues because transitioning is the only answer – this is already happening and will only get worse. The treatment could easily become ‘fill in the form and change sex’ and we know that is not right for children with gender issues. Children also will not be able to get help for other mental health issues because all issues are assumed to be the result of the gender confusion. This new policy offers a simplistic answer which may negatively impact on treatment for a complex issue.
Both the UK and Scottish governments are proposing to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004. The Scottish consultation is underway and closes on 1st March 2018. The UK consultation is in the pre-consultation phase. It is crucially important that we ALL feed our views back to both consultations. Do not leave this to Scottish women to fight this alone. This affects us all directly or indirectly. The response to the Scottish consultation will inevitably impact on the UK government’s willingness or otherwise to bring this legislation through for elsewhere in the UK. Also, there is a real danger that if people can go to Scotland for a GRC and then be legally recognised as the opposite sex throughout the whole of the UK this could be GRA reform through the back door. This may be the only chance women from England, Wales and Northern Ireland to give their views. This is no time for complacency!
This matters to everyone. Use this article to guide you through the consultation and to stimulate your own thoughts and feedback. Use this opportunity to tell the Scottish and UK governments what you think. If we don’t this legislation will pass unchallenged. It will be Scotland first and then England and Wales and inevitably follow.
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