The Scottish government has published the results of their consultation on gender recognition, which is full of good sense about how making the process easier will improve trans people’s lives. Unfortunately, as it is a summary of responses, it does not contain refutations of the silliest comments of the trans excluders. There is so much to choose from, which could easily be refuted, so I won’t bother quoting the idiocy.
OK, just a little: the idea that there are “trans rights activists” or lobbyists who “do not have the interests of gender dysphoric individuals at heart”. That is, the haters pretend to know trans interests better than trans people do, pretend to support trans people as they attack our rights, and just make stuff up.
There was some concern-trolling, claiming that trans people should see a psychiatrist, or our other mental disorders would not be diagnosed. That’s projection. An unhealthy obsession with preventing trans people living our lives may mask more serious mental disorder. There is no need for trans people to see a psychiatrist, as, per ICD 11, trans is not a mental illness.
The consultation has also been skewed by the practice of producing any number of silly names, and pretending they are separate “women’s organisations”. Transgender trend, a tiny hate group, was even recorded as a trans organisation. Obsessive anti-trans campaigner Heather Brunskell–Evans, for example, founded FiLiA and the “women’s human rights campaign”, and has strong links with WPUK. Why could FiLiA not produce its own “human rights” statement? Perhaps because it has no name recognition, but perhaps for circumstances like this. So, rather than being counted as one ignorant individual, Brunskell-Evans is counted as at least three women’s organisations and one trans organisation.
One hate group claimed to be Broadsheet, the New Zealand feminist magazine, which ceased publication in 1997. Scottish Women’s Aid, which supported trans people, counts as one women’s organisation. A hater submission was made in the name of Green Party Women, which drew a rebuke from the Scottish Greens and repudiation from the Green Party Women committee. Euan Yours analysed the “women’s groups”, showing most haters did nothing but campaign against trans people.
The result is that any comment that women’s groups opposed trans inclusion is baseless. A few individuals gave themselves big names in order to oppose trans rights. Some of these tiny groups used exactly the same sentences or paragraphs in their responses.
Most children and young people groups, LGBT groups, unions, local authorities, political parties, NHS respondents and all the real trans groups supported trans rights, especially moving to a statutory declaration based system with no need for diagnosis, though they tended to say a waiting period was unnecessary.
There was no assessment of how many individuals were broadly supportive of trans people, but the previous consultation had a solid majority for our rights. Many said that after that consultation there was no need for another. I responded to the second consultation.
Respondents said the gender recognition panel is “intimidating and humiliating”. They said the change would not harm women. Haters pointed to cases of individual trans people behaving badly, as if all cis women should be treated with suspicion because of Rose West and Myra Hindley. We’re no more “all the same” than they are.
Many said the new procedure was unnecessarily complicated. The Scottish government proposed three months living in “the acquired gender”, then a statutory declaration sent to the Registrar-General, then a further three month “reflection” period, then a letter confirming to the RG that the applicant did indeed want a GRC.
Trans people protested that no-one decides to transition on a whim. It’s something we have “reflected” on all our lives.
Trans people and allies pointed out that “living in an acquired gender” implied that there was some commonly understood set of behaviours for each, which was outmoded. However there are some, and trans people are clearly subverting their assigned gender’s stereotypes. We don’t acquire a gender, we express it or hide it. We are judged on our appearance, and fear being told we had not tried hard enough to express as a man or woman.
Any need to gather evidence of this requires financial resources, time, and emotional energy. Will it be enough? A trans person living with their parents does not have utility bills in their name.
People spoke out against any qualifying period. It’s merely a wait, after we have made the life-changing decision to transition. Changing your passport and driving licence does not require a qualifying period, so why should a GRC? We take years, sometimes, to decide to transition, and after the decision I took 18 months to prepare.
If a qualification period is wrong, a “reflection period” after applying before sending a second form to confirm you want a GRC is ridiculous. We have been “reflecting” all our lives. We know who we are. It is not consistent with self-determination. It adds bureaucracy without reason. It’s an attempt at a middle way between trans people and anti-trans campaigners, rather than a policy which has merit in its own right. The need for a statutory declaration is sufficient to show the gravity of the process.
The reflection period is a deterrent, as if transition is bad. Transition is self-expression, necessary for flourishing. Waiting periods may delay marriage or force someone to be registered at death in the wrong sex.
Why should the age for application be reduced to 16? This is the age of legal adulthood in Scotland, for getting married, joining the army, voting, or gaining employment. Trans people aged 16 know who they are, and our mental health benefits from recognition. All our papers should say the right gender. 56% supported the age reduction, 42% opposed, a convincing majority. Some people who would retain a higher qualifying age would otherwise support trans rights. So though percentages are not given for other questions, the consultation majority clearly support trans people.
There is no need for a specific offence of a false declaration. A false declaration is already an offence. Nonbinary people might seek binary gender recognition while waiting for nonbinary recognition.
The consultation allowed haters to claim that making getting a GRC easier affected cis women, and the haters took the opportunity. However, many people simply said it would not, and identified themselves as cis women, lesbians, feminists and mothers. We should not let the lurid imaginations and lengthy maunderings of bigots obscure this fact. They have a habit of multiplying considerations, as if situations with very little difference affected cis women differently.
Will getting a GRC more easily make any change to access to women’s spaces? Of course not. I don’t show my birth certificate to enter women’s services, and hope I never will have to. These services generally operate self-declaration.
I hope the SNP and Greens will get on with the reform, perhaps a simpler one than the published draft Bill.