Scotland takes crucial step on road to equality - Lorna Slater
The Bill, which was passed overwhelmingly on the last day before parliamentary recess, will finally allow trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate by a process of self-declaration. It is a small change that will make a big difference.
It will remove some of the trauma, stress, pain and bureaucracy that far too many trans people have had to experience as a result of the current system.
The debates themselves showed the best and worst of our Parliament.
On one hand there were the late nights, the disruption, the wrecking tactics and the scaremongering rhetoric. Some of the lines that were used were reminiscent of the worst parts of the Section 28 and equal marriage debates, and had little if anything to do with the content of the Bill itself.
But, at the same time, there was also a deep sense of hope and solidarity among progressive MSPs from all parties, who came together to achieve something important.
Whether it was my fantastic Scottish Green colleague Maggie Chapman, or Labour MSP Mercedes Vilalba, or the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Shona Robison, who has done really amazing work. It is also right to thank the handful of Tory MSPS who defied their party and did the right thing.
This Bill could not have happened without you. That goes for every MSP who supported it and who stood on the side of progress and equality.
But the vote was about something much bigger than individual politicians or party politics.
It was about recognising the right for everyone to live with dignity and to be recognised as who they really are and have always been. It was about the future and building an inclusive society where nobody is made to feel ashamed of who they are.
It was a truly historic vote. But it was also a vote on our history and a vote to recognise and try to redress some of the pain and misery that has been caused by prejudice.
There are so many people who have lived and been lost without an acknowledgment of their true identities, and far too many who have been made to live in fear. The vote was just as much about their lives and their legacy as it was about the future.
There were a lot of trans people in the public gallery last week and I know how much the vote meant to them. It was their day.
I hope that their voices will soon be with us in the Chamber, and that in the years to come we will see Scotland’s first openly trans MSPs.
The Scotland that I want to see is one that is at the forefront of equality and that allows everyone to live and thrive. Last week we took a crucial step towards it.
Lorna Slater is the minister for green skills, circular economy and biodiversity