Pin It
London Trans+ Pride 2021Photography Santiago Franco Schicke

Scotland passes the gender recognition reform bill

The new legislation will make it easier for trans people to legally change their gender through self-identification

Finally, some good news – the gender recognition reform bill will become law in Scotland.

The bill was passed this afternoon, six years after it was proposed by first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The new law removes the need for a psychiatric diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC). The legislation will now make it easier and less intrusive for people to legally change their gender through a system of self-identification, and also extend to 16- and 17-year-olds for the first time.

Scotland’s new self-identification system will also reduce the length of time that someone must have been living in their preferred gender before they can apply, down from two years to three months, or six months for those aged 16 and 17. There’s also a three-month reflection period following the acquisition of a GRC, during which an individual can change their mind.

About 30 gender recognition certificates are granted to people born or adopted in Scotland each year, but now that the bill has passed the Scottish government estimates that this could now increase to 250 to 300 applicants a year.

The welcome news follows two of the largest public consultations in the history of the Scottish parliament. The debate was even disrupted minutes before the final vote, with transphobic protesters in the public gallery shouting “shame on you”.

But despite society and politics seeming polarised on trans issues, the bill passed comfortably with a lot of support from the Scottish Greens and Scottish Lib Dems. Most Labour MSPs also voted in favour of the bill, with a handful of Tories also supporting it.

As she proposed the final version of the bill to parliament, social justice minister Shona Robison called the legislation “an important step to creating a more equal Scotland”, comparing it to equal marriage legislation before it.

“Trans rights are not in competition with women’s rights and, as so often before, we can improve things for everyone when those discriminated against act as allies not opponents,” she continued.