10:04, November 09 45 0 theguardian.com

2017-11-09 10:04:03
Legal recognition for non-binary people planned in Scotland

People wishing to legally change their gender may be able to do so by signing a statutory declaration from the age of 16 under plans to radically reform gender recognition law in Scotland.

The proposals include the option of full legal recognition for non-binary people – those who do not identify as either male or female – which would make Scotland one of a handful of countries to do so and follows a ruling by Germany’s highest constitutional court yesterday that birth certificates should allow a third gender category.

Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, pledged at an LGBTI hustings before last year’s Holyrood elections that legislating for non-binary recognition would be as important in her next parliamentary term as equal marriage was to the last.

Launching the consultation on Thursday, Angela Constance, the cabinet secretary for communities, social Security and equality, said: “Scotland rightly has a reputation as one of the most progressive countries in relation to LGBTI legal and human rights equality in Europe – but we need to do more to progress equality for trans people.”

The plans, which are intended to make it simpler and less intrusive for transgender people to be legally recognised, will remove the requirements to provide medical evidence and to live in an acquired gender for two years.

The new self-declaration system, based on the model practiced in the Republic of Ireland, will require an individual to apply to a specialist government unit, to complete a simple applications form and then to sign a statutory declaration before a legal official that they understand the consequences of their actions, and intend to live in their acquired gender for the rest of their life.

James Morton, manager of Scottish Trans Alliance, welcomed the move to self-declaration, saying: “The current process to change the gender on a trans person’s birth certificate is a humiliating, offensive and expensive red-tape nightmare which requires them to submit intrusive psychiatric evidence to a faceless tribunal panel years after they transitioned. It makes sense for birth certificates to be brought into line with the self-declaration process already used to change all other identity documents when trans people start living in their gender identity.”

On Thursday, a coalition of Scottish women’s organisations, including Engender, Rape Crisis Scotland and Women 50:50, stated that they would collaborate with trans and other equality organisations to ensure that the new processes were appropriately designed.

In a jointly issued statement in support of legal reform for gender recognition, they added: “We do not regard trans equality and women’s equality to be in competition or contradiction with each other. We support the Equal Recognition campaign and welcome the reform of the Gender Recognition Act. Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid in Scotland provide trans inclusive services on the basis of self identification.”

The Scottish government has confirmed that it will continue to gather separate data for men and women where it is appropriate, for example regarding the pay gap.

The UK government announced plans to consult on gender recognition legislation in July, but their consultation is not expected before the new year.