Scottish civil society overwhelmingly supports trans recognition.
The Scottish Parliament consulted again on gender recognition. 11,154 people responded: 30% were outside Scotland. It is deliberately misleading of Holyrood to report that “Over half of survey respondents oppose changes”. That’s true, but irrelevant.
Holyrood says 59% of this self-selecting sample opposed the Bill. Over 60% said there should still be a medical diagnosis, the period before applying should remain two years, and the minimum age should remain 18.
It quoted those against: predatory males would enter women’s spaces including hospitals and refuges. Yeah, right. Inpatients in hospital are going to predate on other patients. That’s one of the least credible scares I have heard from the haters. But, when did predatory males ever bother with paperwork before predating?
It also quoted those in favour: the application process would be more straightforward, less intrusive and traumatic, and give trans people the rights we deserve.
The survey is the third by the parliament. The first was published in Autumn 2018 and the second in Autumn 2021. I did not bother with the third. Around 6,500 obsessive haters obeyed the prompts of the hate campaign to click through and scaremonger about predatory males. And lots of people still supported trans rights. That’s all that can be learnt from this third survey.
814 respondents gave a detailed response with permission for publication, though some of these were anonymous. A search for “predatory” gives 59 results. They include the usual innocuously named hate groups.
What did the Scottish Human Rights Commission say? They referred to their previous report, and reiterated that “we welcome proposals to shorten the process for obtaining legal recognition, remove the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and abolish the Gender Recognition Panel. These three steps will move legal gender recognition in Scotland closer to the standards set out in international and regional human rights law and guidance on the realisation of human rights in this area.” They are completely in favour.
What about Scottish Women’s Aid? You would think they would be concerned about predatory males. “We support the removal of the requirement of a medical diagnosis and the introduction of a process based on self-identification by the applicant with a shorter waiting time. We agree that reducing the minimum age for applicants from 18 to 16 would be in line with the rights of young people to identity, privacy, and to express their views and have them given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity.” They recognise that “Trans women experience domestic abuse”, and “should be able to access support to help her escape, and heal from, that abuse”.
A bit of humanity there.
For some expertise, here’s the response of Transgender Europe, which has 183 member organisations in 47 different countries.
The National Union of Students says “reform is long overdue”. There should be no need for diagnosis because of waiting lists of up to four years. Gender incongruence is not a mental disorder. There should be no time period before someone can apply. Delay “puts the safety and wellbeing of trans people at risk”. The time you need a GRC is when you are changing all your records.
Children in Scotland, which works to advance children’s rights as in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, have consistently supported the rights of trans youth, believe GRA reform is “essential” to upholding rights, and do not regard trans rights and women’s rights to be in competition. In 2019, the Scottish Youth Parliament supported self-declaration with 71% support. Amnesty International agrees.
The teachers’ unions support reform. The EIS is “clear that trans women are women and trans men are men”. The NASUWT “is committed to campaign for a simplified, free, statutory gender-recognition process based on self-declaration and to support rights for gender non-binary people at work and in wider society”.
The Public and Commercial Services Union supports demedicalisation, saying the requirement of a diagnosis is outdated and classifying trans people as mentally ill is harmful and inaccurate. Requiring a diagnosis “causes a great deal of undue suffering”. They don’t believe any time period, before or after application, is necessary. ASLEF cites Ireland, Malta, Denmark and Iceland and says self-declaration “will remove the unnecessary anxiety, intrusive and humiliating barriers to receiving a gender recognition certificate”. The University and College Union welcomes the Bill.
The Scottish Young Greens say, why wait for a psychiatric report when waiting lists for gender clinics are years long? They oppose the “period of reflection” after first applying, as young and disabled trans people may be vulnerable to abusive parents or carers who try to derail legal recognition. They say preventing a spouse from transitioning is “domestic abuse”. The Scottish Greens Women’s Network “represent the views of all women members” and “are inclusive of all women, cis, trans, intersex and any nonbinary people who feel comfortable in a women centred space”. Of course they support self-declaration, and question the need for any time period. So do Rainbow Greens.
My former law lecturer Professor Kenneth Norrie provides a learned disquisition on the reduction of the age limit, which he supports, and worries that interim GRCs for married people are “a result of inertia”. “We should be asking whether they are needed at all, and if not they should be scrapped.”
LEAP Sports is Scotlands LGBT+ sports charity who aim to break down the barriers excluding us from sport, and to improve our health and wellbeing. They support self-declaration. Pink Saltire is a rural Scots LGBT+ charity. They find the need for a diagnosis “humiliating and unnecessary”.
The Church of Scotland, which has more ministers (around 800) than many of the hate groups have members, supports “the dignity and wellbeing of all individuals” and on that basis opposes the requirement for a medical diagnosis. They don’t have a single view on time periods but say “A trans person does not ‘acquire’ a different identity, it is inherent in who they are”.
Who is against? “Women Speak Scotland”, for example. That sounds like a women’s rights organisation. But when the first sentence of its website prattles of “the life-long impact that being born female has”, as if being born trans is a garden of roses, you see that it is yet another name for a perhaps tiny group of people obsessed with opposing trans rights. Any fool can start a WordPress website(!)
There’s also a hate group innocuously termed “Heal Survivors Group”, allegedly survivors of male sexual violence, set up to attack Rape Crisis Scotland for including trans women.
The Anscombe Bioethics Centre engages with moral questions around clinical practice and biomedical research. It says the diagnosis should be retained so that trans people, “a vulnerable group,” should not be deprived of contact with mental health professionals. I agree we need more access to mental health services, but not that depriving us of gender recognition would help that in any way.
Scottish civil society overwhelmingly supports trans recognition. The fact that a few thousand sick obsessives have been paid or persuaded to oppose trans rights is no reason to delay reform.
I haven’t read all the 814 responses. I would have had to plough through some dire transphobia to do so. However I identified this response from the name: Mòr Fraser, born Morag Fraser. I love the name, from Gaelic for “big”. Here’s a personal response from someone who is affected. They say, “Get this done.”