Scottish gender change reform to be passed before election The Times 22.02.20

The original article is here.

Changing gender is likely to become easier and quicker before the next election, the social security secretary has said.

Legislation proposed by the Scottish government would lower the age limit for applications to change gender from 18 to 16, remove the need for medical evidence and reduce the required time spent living in the new gender from two years to six months. It aims to make it simpler for transgender people to get a gender recognition certificate to legally change gender.

Shirley-Anne Somerville told STV’s Scotland Tonight that the Scottish government is “determined” to change the law before the 2021 Holyrood election, adding that she wants to build “maximum consensus” for the plans. Ms Somerville said there had been “a lot of misunderstandings” alongside legitimate concerns about the proposed legislation.

The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill would continue to require applicants to make a declaration that they have lived in their intended gender for at least three months and intend it to be a permanent transition, as well as having a three-month period of reflection after applying for the certificate. Concerns have been raised about potential abuses of the easier process — for example, men using it to access women’s spaces — although making a false declaration would remain a criminal offence.

Ms Somerville said: “I absolutely appreciate that women’s rights are exceptionally important. They have been long fought for and long campaigned on and there is absolutely nothing I would do as a member of this government to jeopardise any of that.

“We have women’s rights and we have trans rights, I don’t see those aspects as mutually exclusive.” Ms Somerville said she was confident the legislation could be passed before the elections next year.

The Scottish government is running a consultation on the proposed changes until March 17.