The SNP Government plans to introduce significant changes to the law in this area – changes which include reducing the time it takes for people to legally change their gender from two years to three months, and allowing people aged 16 and above to apply to change their gender.
However, several groups have come forward with legitimate concerns about these proposed changes, and it is important that these concerns are listened to and that the debate on this issue does not become one-sided as it has been all too often in the past. We have repeatedly seen concerns about changes to gender recognition law dismissed as being invalid or badly motivated, instead of being based on legitimate concerns about women’s safety, and this must not continue going forward.
These concerns have only been added to by the recent legal challenge that has been launched over Scottish Government guidance which suggests that individuals may choose which gender they record on the national census, rather than having to select the gender on either their birth certificate or gender recognition certificate.
We have also seen concerns raised by Professor Dame Anne Glover around the potential medical and scientific impacts – particularly medical issues for trans individuals – that could come about as a result of the SNP’s proposed reforms.
This is clearly a sensitive topic on which opinions are firmly split. We are clear that, throughout this process, we must protect women’s rights and take concerns that those rights are being eroded very seriously. For now, we await the details of this legislation and stand ready to scrutinise each aspect of it.