Take Action: Scotland GRA Reform Bill

Scotland GRA bill

The Scotland GRA Reform Bill proposes a system of self-ID with no need for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and a lowering of the age from 18 to 16 for a gender recognition certificate.

These are our suggestions for filling in the short survey on the Scottish Government’s proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Your answers need to be in by May 16th 2002.

This is the link to the survey: https://yourviews.parliament.scot/ehrcj/gender-recognition-reform-bill/

There are 7 Yes/No/Don’t Know questions and a box for comments. We have added a short explanation of our reasons for answering yes, no or don’t know.

Q1 Do you agree with the overall purpose of the Bill?

No. The purpose of this Bill is to remove all medical safeguarding measures which currently protect both the general public and those seeking a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

Q2 Should applicants for a GRC require a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria or supporting documentation?

Yes. We believe it is essential to keep this requirement. The original purpose of the GRA 2004 was to make life easier for the very small number of adults with a clear medical need to live more easily as the opposite sex. Removing the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria opens up the process to everyone. This will impact women’s rights. These rights are already contested, and has led the EHRC to ask the Scottish Government to think more carefully about the effects of such a reform on data collection, sport and the criminal justice system.

Q3 Should the period of living in an acquired gender be reduced from 2 years to 3 months (with an additional 3 month reflection period)?

No. The law as it stands provides good safeguarding for those applying for a GRC. It allows time for reflection before making such a life-changing decision, and for doctors to ensure that there are no other causes of gender distress.

Q4 Do you agree with the introduction of a 3-month reflection period before a GRC is granted?

Don’t know. A reflection period is not necessary under the current law. This further three-month period merely makes the process of obtaining a GRC six months from start to finish. We are opposed to reducing the time ‘living in an acquired gender’ from two years in principle. 

Q5 Do you agree with the removal of the Gender Recognition Panel from the Process, with applications instead being made to the Registrar General?

No. We believe the Gender Recognition Panel provides good checks and safeguards and should be retained.

Q6 Should the minimum age for applicants be reduced from 18 to 16?

No. 16 is too young to make a decision to change legal sex. The Scottish Government itself defines a child as under 18, yet they are proposing to give children the right to get a GRC without any medical or other oversight. Our brains do not fully mature until our mid-20s. We still don’t know why so many young people are experiencing gender distress. Until this is known, international best practice of watchful waiting should be followed. Growing numbers of detransitioners suggest that better mental health services are needed, rather than making legal validation easier.

Q7 Do you anticipate any negative impacts from the provisions in the Bill?

Yes. We believe that introducing sex self ID will fuel expectations that a GRC allows access to single-sex spaces, with a direct impact on the rights of women and girls. Schools will face pressure to include boys with a GRC in girls’ sports, changing rooms and toilets. Doctors will face additional pressure to treat young people with a GRC with drugs and surgery. It will have a negative affect on family life in cases where parents and a child disagree about applying for a GRC, possibly leading to parental alienation and family breakdown.

Q8 Please provide any further comments you have about the provisions in the Bill.

In your own words, use this section to explain your answers in more detail. Try to give concrete examples or point to relevant evidence or research. We suggest expanding in the following areas: the impact on single-sex spaces for women and girls, lack of oversight for gender distressed young people, the likely increase in demand for life-changing medical interventions, concern about the growing number of detransitioners, the lack of a pathway to revoke a GRC, and interference in the right to a family life.

The deadline is Monday May 16th. Submit your response here.

We are also supporting the Fair Play for Women letter writing campaign:

Say NO to letting Sex Self-ID in through the back door

Fair Play for Women states:

For a Scottish GRC to be recognised outside Scotland, the UK Government will have to agree.

Freedom of Information requests reveal that talks have already begun, and trans pressure groups are pushing for it to happen.

Before the bill can be made law Scottish Ministers must ask the UK Government to grant permission for a Scottish GRC to be recognised outside Scotland.

The UK Government can say no. Tell them that is what you want!

Fair Play for Women sets out how UK Government agreement would impact on children and parents:

If you are a parent in England and Wales this Scottish law could impact you and your family.

a) If your child is at school…..

We estimate there are around 15,000 Scottish-born children aged 16+ currently attending English and Welsh schools, any of whom will be able to use the Scottish system to change their sex in law while still at school.

This means, for the first time ever, English and Welsh schools may have to deal with teenage boys presenting their newly acquired female birth certificates to staff and demanding access to the girls’ toilets, changing rooms and sports teams.

Having a GRC makes a difference. Children with a GRC will have a stronger direct discrimination claim if schools say no compared to the much weaker indirect discrimination claim of children without a GRC.

This means your daughters’ right to privacy away from the opposite sex while at school in England or Wales will be diminished by a decision made in the Scottish parliament by MSPs you didn’t vote for.

b) If your child is going to university…..

If your child choses one of the fifteen universities in Scotland they will be able to use the Scottish self-ID system to get a GRC in just six months. The Scottish self-ID system will be open to anyone who is “ordinarily resident” in Scotland, including students who live there to study. This means your son or daughter could go away to university, get the idea in freshers week, and then come home for Easter with a new birth certificate saying they were born the opposite sex.

We also believe that Scottish children living in England or Wales, who are in possession of a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) will invariably have an impact on the ability of therapists and counsellors throughout the whole of the UK to provide normal standards of paediatric care, as the Cass Review has stressed is a matter of immediate need. If a 16 year-old girl has a birth certificate stating that she was born male and has legal status as a boy, no therapist would be able to work neutrally with her to explore any underlying factors which have led to these feelings.

Not knowing which child has a GRC and which child doesn’t would impact on the confidence of all therapists, counsellors and clinicians to provide care in an open-ended, exploratory way with any child.

Although it is claimed that legislation will not interfere with medical care, practically it would not be possible to separate the two things. It raises serious questions for NHS England who are bound by the findings of the Cass Review. If there is no need for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, on what basis can the NHS justifiably provide any treatment at all for these children? The NHS does not normally offer medical treatment in the absence of any formal diagnosis of either a physical or mental health condition.

There would inevitably be pressure from activists on NHS England to provide a service uniquely for this group of adolescents based on self-diagnosis and informed consent. Children in England and Wales would require a diagnosis before medical treatment, children born in Scotland or who move from Scotland who have a GRC would not. How could this system realistically work?

To voice your concerns, please write to:

Liz Truss geo.correspondence@geo.gov.uk

Sajid Javid sec-of-state.ps@education.gov.uk

Your own MP Find here

More details on the Fair Play for Women website here.

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