Gender Recognition Reform is a big step for equality - Lorna Slater

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Last week’s vote for Gender Recognition Reform was a big step for equality and puts Scotland at the forefront of progressive change in the UK.

I was delighted and very proud to vote for something that is a small and simple change but will make a big difference to one of our most marginalised communities.

The legislation will allow trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate by a process of self-declaration, which will allow a change to the gender marker on a birth certificate and remove the need for an intrusive and medicalised process.

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This will reduce some of the trauma, stress, pain and bureaucracy that far too many have had to experience.

Campaigners backing the Gender Recognition Reform Bill outside the Scottish ParliamentCampaigners backing the Gender Recognition Reform Bill outside the Scottish Parliament
Campaigners backing the Gender Recognition Reform Bill outside the Scottish Parliament

In the words of Ellie Gomersall, a young trans woman who spoke at a rally outside parliament last week “sometimes, it feels like the hardest thing about being trans is the admin”. This Bill changes that.

It will now progress to Stage Two, where it will receive amendments to ensure it is as watertight as possible.

Unfortunately, the debate has not always reflected the best of our politics or the country that we can be.

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The Bill has been the focus of a long and cynical campaign of disinformation. Some of the things that have been said about it, and about the people it will impact have been very ignorant and beyond the pale.

Scotland is for all of us. My Green colleagues and I will always stand with the LGBTQ+ community, and against the kind of prejudice and division that has been promoted by a small but vocal minority.

Equality goes right to the heart of our vision of a fairer, greener and more compassionate Scotland. That commitment, and that belief, are central to the cooperation agreement that we negotiated with the Scottish Government.

Self-identification is a crucial reform, but it is only one part of the change that is needed. We are also transforming the way that trans people access and experience healthcare and ending all forms of so-called conversion therapy practices.

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For many of the people who have taken the time to write to me, last week’s vote was about their dignity and their voice, and about allowing them to live as the people they really are and always were.

But it was also about how we got here. It was about recognising the millions of people who have suffered so much prejudice and were unable to live the lives they wanted to and deserved to. It was about the people who have been stigmatised, criminalised and forced to hide themselves from those around them.

It was about the generations of LGBTQ+ people who have come before. It was about acknowledging all of the gains that they have made and the milestones they achieved, whether it was Section 28, protections for LGBTQ+ workers and the introduction of equal marriage.

None of these things should have needed to be fought for, yet none of them could have been realised without the years of campaigning and solidarity that they are the results of.

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The damage and that hurt of the past cannot be erased and should never be denied. We will do everything we can to ensure that the future we build is a positive and inclusive one where everyone can live, love and thrive, and can feel safe being themselves.

Lorna Slater is a Lothian Green MSP and Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity

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