Trans women join backlash against Holyrood’s gender switch reform Sunday Times 22.03.20

The original article is here.

The Scottish government is facing calls to abandon plans to make it easier for people to switch gender by some of those who have transitioned to live as women.

There is growing anxiety among people who have changed sex and hold a gender recognition certificate (GRC) that plans to allow individuals to self-identify could expose them and biological girls and women to sexual predators. Some argue that controversial reforms of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), which are the subject of a consultation, represent an attack on women’s spaces and freedoms and are calling on women to block the new laws.

The backlash comes amid growing speculation that the reforms could be set back by months — and even shelved — as Holyrood prepares to spend huge swathes of time dealing with emergency UK and Scottish legislation in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposals have caused deep rifts within the SNP and some party members have threatened to resign. Ministers want to simplify the rules for acquiring a GRC, which allows a person aged 16 and over to change the sex-marker on their birth certificate and be legally recognised as a member of the opposite sex.

The need for medical evidence to prove a gender dysphoria diagnosis would be removed and the time applicants must live in their acquired gender before making a legal change would be reduced to three months.

Last week, Seven Hex, who identifies as a trans woman who was born male, said: “By making a GRC available to just anyone who wants one, the government would be putting women and children at risk, as predators could readily obtain one.”

A 68-year-old woman, who was born a male but transitioned later in life, used Twitter to express concerns about the reforms. She believes that allowing people to self-identify as the opposite sex with no medical or psychological intervention, is “not the way to go”.

The government’s proposed changes to the GRA have been welcomed by LGBT charity Stonewall Scotland and the Equality and Human Rights Commission for Scotland, among others. Scottish Trans Alliance says the shift will make life “simpler and fairer” for those affected.

Since 2005, trans people have been able to apply to a UK tribunal called the Gender Recognition Panel for a GRC. Typically, to be granted a certificate, applicants must obtain a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and swear an oath that they have been living in their new gender for two years and that they intend to do so for the rest of their life.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said its consultation had highlighted concerns that the existing GRC process can contribute to ill health or lead to the stigmatising of trans people.

However, Lucy Hunter Blackburn, a former senior civil servant who has spoken out against the reforms, said the Scottish government could make a greater effort to engage directly with GRC holders: “If a government is planning to take a legal instrument covering about 400 people and extend it to a group it expects will be 10 times larger, with different characteristics, making an effort to engage fully with the existing group is simply good public administration.”

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