Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill – an update

The current law in Scotland requires applicants who wish to change gender to be aged 18 or over, to provide evidence of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria with assessment by a gender recognition panel, and to have lived in their acquired gender for at least two years. They have to make a declaration that they intend to live in their acquired gender for the rest of their life.

The Gender Recognition Reform Bill, currently being rushed through the Scottish Parliament, seeks to remove any medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria or the need to be assessed by a panel. It also seeks to reduce the age of applicants to 16 or over. Moreover, the period to be living in their acquired gender is to be reduced from 2 years to 3 months

The bill (as of 8th December 2022) has been successfully through the first 2 of 3 stages. The third and final stage will be  completed on 21st December. The SNP and Green party have backed the bill and used the whip to persuade MSPs to vote for it. The Labour party also backs it. There have been a handful of rebels, rejecting the bill the among SNP ranks.

Amendments to the bill that have been tabled have mostly been rejected so far. The only ones that have been accepted are:

1/ To legislate for background checks on applicants for past sex offences.

 2/ To increase the time for living in the acquired gender to 6 months for those aged 16 and 17.

We are concerned that no assessment will be needed for these vulnerable people, many of whom may be going through a transient phase. We also know from extensive research that a high proportion will have serious psychosocial problems that need addressing along with the dysphoria.  A young person aged 16 does not have the brain maturity needed to make this sort of life changing decision.

Social transition in most leads to medical transition, which has no proper evidence base, causes irreversible changes and is often deeply regretted later. We are now seeing increasing numbers of detransitioners who have been permanently harmed by such medical and surgical intervention.

We hope that further amendments, currently being tabled will be accepted at the last stage, to ameliorate the harms that will inevitably result from this bill.