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There’s been a lot going on with legal gender recognition reform over the past weeks. We know this has left many trans young people and their families feeling worried about the implications of the recent statement made by Kemi Badenoch, Minister for Women and Equalities, as well as reports that the UK Government may block Scottish gender recognition reform. 

Here we answer some of the most pressing questions raised by our community: 

What changes have been announced to the UK’s Gender Recognition Act (2004)?

The UK Government has announced its intention to update the list of countries whose Gender Recognition Certificates (GRC) they recognise, potentially removing countries like Australia, Canada and Uruguay, which all have policies of legal gender self-determination. The new list has yet to be announced.

How will this affect trans people from other countries living in the UK?

Under the current system, a person with a GRC from a country on the “approved list” seeking legal gender recognition in the UK can apply via a “fast-track” system, meaning they do not need to provide the same extensive medical information as a UK citizen. If their country is not on the list, they would have to undergo the UK gender recognition process to change their legal gender in the UK (e.g. for marriage or death certificates).

Does possession of a Gender Recognition Certificate impact my ability to access single sex spaces?

No, this is determined by the Equality Act (2010). Trans people don’t need a GRC to be protected under the Equality Act.

Will the UK Government block the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) bill?

Reports in the media have suggested the UK Government may use their powers to block the Scottish GRR Bill. This Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament in December 2022, but the UK Government has until 19 January 2022 to block it from becoming law. 

What does Mermaids think of this?

The passing of the GRR Bill in Scotland was a huge win for trans people, especially in opening up the process to 16 and 17-year-olds. Never before has the UK Government blocked a law made by the Scottish Parliament, which we think demonstrates the lengths they will go to undermine the rights and dignity of trans people. 

What can I do?

Stonewall has created a tool to write to your MP asking them to oppose the UK Government’s attempts to restrict the rights of trans people further. 

If you find this news distressing and would like some support, do call our helpline on 0808 801 0400.

In a huge win for trans people, the Scottish Parliament has passed a landmark Bill removing barriers to legal recognition

We are delighted by the news that the Scottish Parliament has passed the Gender Recognition Reform Bill by 86 votes to 39.

At a time when trans people in the UK are facing growing hostility, Scottish MSPs have shown bravery and a commitment to equality in supporting this long-overdue legislation, and we send our gratitude and admiration to the Scottish campaigners who have tirelessly fought for reform for over six years. 

The reforms mean a trans person can more easily change their legally recognised gender from male to female or vice versa, including identity documents (such as birth certificates or passports).

What are the key changes?

  • Lowering the minimum age requirement for applicants to 16
  • Moving from a medicalised requirement for psychiatric diagnosis to a system of statutory declaration (“self-declaration”)
  • Reducing the requirement for two years living “in line” with your gender to three months, with a three-month “reflection period” between the application and the certificate being issued

We celebrate that many trans people in Scotland will no longer be required to undergo an intrusive and protracted process simply to be able to be recognised as their authentic selves. In particular, the decision to reduce the age at which a person can seek a Gender Recognition Certificate from 18 to 16 is an important step in ensuring that young trans people have the same right to determine their own gender. 

In 2020, the UK Government scrapped their promised reform to the Gender Recognition Act, despite their own consultation showing a clear majority in support of an end to the requirement for a medical diagnosis to change your gender. 

At this historic moment in the fight for trans equality and recognition in Scotland, we reiterate our calls for the UK Government to review its decision to maintain the existing slow, bureaucratic and medicalised process which prevents trans people from getting on with their lives. 

What do the young people we work with have to say?

“This needs to be replicated in other home nation law, as this will save lives.”

“The removal of the gender dysphoria diagnosis requirement means more trans people will be able to change their legal gender without facing long waiting times.”

“England needs to follow now but I honestly can’t see it happening.” 

“As a Scottish trans person, it’s quite scary because I have heard some of the opinions of people as a reaction to this and it’s not positive at all. I just worry there is gonna be so much backlash.”

“[It’s] really good that it’s happening, but sadly I just know it’s going to cause controversy and just add to this constant trans in the media narrative which is so stressful.”

More information and support for trans people in Scotland can be found on the Scottish Trans website.