Campaigners welcome plans to simplify birth certificate gender change process

Plans to make it more simple for transgender people to choose their legal sex have been welcomed by equal rights campaigners in Scotland.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 23rd July 2017, 2:40 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 12:01 pm
Plans to make it simpler for transgender people to choose their legal sex have been welcomed. Picture; Getty
Plans to make it simpler for transgender people to choose their legal sex have been welcomed. Picture; Getty

The UK Government announced on Sunday that it will consult on reforms allowing trans people to change the gender on their birth certificates by self-declaration.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon committed last year to reforming gender recognition law in line with international best practice and the Scottish Government will consult on the same change for Scotland at the end of the summer.

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Campaigners said the proposed reform would mean trans people could have their birth certificate altered without having to provide “intrusive” psychiatric reports and other evidence.

Current rules state that those wishing to change the document must demonstrate that they have or have had gender dysphoria and submit two medical or psychological reports for this purpose. They must also show that they have lived in the acquired gender for two years before applying.

The Scottish Trans Alliance said the proposed reform will help bring birth certificates into line with other official documents which may already have been amended to reflect the gender change.

James Morton, Scottish Trans Alliance manager, said: “We welcome that the UK Government has now followed the Scottish Government’s lead in accepting that the Gender Recognition Act needs to be urgently reformed.

“This is long overdue as the UK has fallen far behind the gender recognition procedures in more than a dozen other countries, including our closest neighbour, Ireland.

“The current UK process to change the gender on a trans person’s birth certificate is a humiliating, offensive and expensive red-tape nightmare which requires them to submit intrusive psychiatric evidence to a faceless tribunal panel.

“The gender on their UK passport, driving licence, medical records and other identity documents already get changed by self-declaration at the very start of a person’s transition. Birth certificates simply need to be brought in line with the process for all other UK identity documents.

“Changing the gender on their birth certificate to match their other identity documents is important primarily to uphold trans people’s privacy and dignity but also to ensure that their pensions, insurance policies, civil partnerships and marriages are all administered correctly.”

Announcing the shake-up, Education Secretary Justine Greening, who is also the equalities minister, said she wanted to cut the stigma faced by trans people.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland is now widely recognised as one of the most progressive countries in Europe on LGBTI rights. But we are continuing work to ensure our country is a fair and equal society for all.

“Later this year we will undertake a wide-ranging consultation which will look at establishing new arrangements for legal gender recognition and the minimum age at which applications could be made. We will carefully consider the responses and all the evidence to inform our next steps.

“We aim to take action in response to the consultation shortly afterwards, with new arrangements in place by 2020.”