If the Gender Recognition Act Reform bill announced today in Scotland is passed, it would mean that any person could change their legal sex without a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
The bill lowers the age a person can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate from 18 to 16.
The requirement for evidence of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria has been repealed and the two year waiting period has been reduced to 3 months.
The message this sends to adolescents reinforces the messages they are bombarded with on social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. In this draft bill the Scottish government confirms to teenage girls what they see online and what they are told by trans activists: that if they are not comfortable with the constricts of ‘femininity’ then they are most likely a boy. It is a bill that lends government authority to the idea of innate ‘gender identity’ and that this feeling overrides biological sex in determining whether you are a boy or a girl.
No longer an Act for a defined group of people with severe gender dysphoria, this proposed reform bill reinforces gender stereotypes in law. ‘Living in the acquired gender’ (a requirement of the original Act) has still not been defined and is impossible to define beyond stereotypes.
To a teenage girl with no adult life experience ‘living as a boy’ can only mean the most superficial expressions of ‘masculinity’ such as clothes and hairstyle. Future experience of life as a ‘man’ in a female body cannot at this age be realistically imagined. Irreversible medicalisation with lifelong consequences is glamourised online in YouTube videos with hundreds of thousands of teenage girl followers. In this proposed Bill the Scottish government can only be encouraging more teenage girls down this route.
If the Bill is passed, the most vulnerable teenagers – girls, lesbian, gay and autistic children and those with mental health problems, previous trauma and unstable family backgrounds – will be further convinced that the reason for their distress is being ‘born in the wrong body’ and that ‘changing sex’ is the answer to all their problems. The Scottish government will be promoting to teenagers the idea that biological sex is so irrelevant you can just legally change it with a certificate.
The Scottish government has not considered the practical impact this bill would have in schools and in gender clinics and professional counselling services. How can a therapist provide open-ended exploratory therapy to a girl who is legally male or a boy who is legally female? Legal gender transition would make it even more difficult for a teenager to recognise a mistake or keep options open at a time in life when identity is still in flux.
Safeguarding girls in schools would be made more difficult in the case of a teenage boy who is legally female and wants to share the girls’ toilets, changing-rooms and residential accommodation. How would a school deal with a girl wanting to use the boys’ toilets, changing-rooms and sleeping accommodation if she has a legal certificate saying she is male? It would be impossible to teach adolescents the importance of boundaries, bodily privacy and consent if a school only offers mixed-sex facilities.
How are we to protect girls from voyeurism and indecent exposure in facilities such as gym and swimming pool changing-rooms if men are allowed access on the basis that they have a Gender Recognition Certificate? For girls and women it is biological sex that is important, not a piece of paper proving ‘legal sex.’ Issuing Gender Recognition Certificates to any man who wants one, on the basis of his say-so, puts women and girls at risk.
In lowering the age to 16 it is clear that the Scottish government has only listened to trans activist groups who have relentlessly targeted children and young people both online and in schools with the message that they have a ‘gender identity’ and nobody has the right to question it. There is no sign that the Scottish government has considered any evidence of social contagion among teens, nor the issue of detransition and regret. As the Cass Review is preparing to publish interim results there is no acknowledgment of the widespread concern that has led to the NHS commissioning this review, nor that there are serious concerns in other countries such as Sweden which has recently issued new guidelines.
In this bill the Scottish government is following an activist agenda of casting these children as a political group with rights rather than vulnerable and unhappy teens who are susceptible to believing in simple explanations and ‘easy’ solutions to their problems. Without fully examining what is driving the vast increase in the number of teenagers identifying as ‘transgender’ over the past decade, the Scottish government may just have provided a way for confused and bullied gay teens to become legally ‘heterosexual’ before they have grown up and learned to accept themselves.
When even the most prominent gender doctors in the US are calling for more caution in ‘affirming’ adolescents as the opposite sex without adequate therapeutic exploration, this is not the time for legal ‘affirmation’ of children without any investigation at all.
We call on MSPs to act in the interests of this vulnerable group of teenagers and vote against these changes to the Gender Recognition Act. Scottish adolescents deserve the same safeguards as children everywhere else in the UK.