Susie Green, CEO of Mermaids said:
‘While we are supportive of the Scottish Government’s plans to simplify the process of getting a Gender Recognition Certificate, we are extremely disappointed to find that recognition for under 18s and non-binary people is not intended to be included in the bill promised to be published by the end of this year.
‘It seems a contradiction for a government to respect the ability of 16- and 17-year-olds to vote, while restricting their right to express who they are.’
‘We are also dismayed at the continuing lack of recognition for non-binary people who are perpetually overlooked and unrepresented at a government level.
‘The proposal to replace the current outdated, intrusive and medicalised process under the current Gender Recognition Act is intended to move towards a world where transgender people are respected. We support this move and applaud First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon in her staunch support for transgender rights.
‘However, when delivered, the new system must demonstrate that the Scottish Government recognises trans people for who they are at all ages, without imposing a system that bars many from identifying as their true gender identity.
‘Though it seems there is no appetite in Holyrood for improving the GRA for children, teenagers and non-binary people, we must consider this process a stepping stone towards true freedom and equality for the transgender community as a whole and we urge the Scottish Parliament to press ahead with true change and lead the rest of the UK as the home of compassionate legislative reform.
It’s now more important than ever for the recently announced second round of public consultation to avoid delaying legislative progress. We hope it will focus instead on creating a system of true self-determination for transgender people in Scotland, in the hope that we can then begin a calm and rational assessment of the situation regarding under 18s and non-binary people.
In her announcement to the Scottish Parliament, Social Security Secretary, Shirley Anne Sommerville said she was “acutely aware of how divided opinion is”. We accept that we are in the midst of a passionate discussion around gender in modern society but while the debate can often seem divided, those working to improve the lives of transgender children, young people and adults must remain united in their determination to work towards a truly free tomorrow, unshackled by laws which undermine transgender people’s basic right to say in law: “I am who I am”.