A bill aimed at making the lives of trans people marginally less obstructive has attracted widespread media attention, including with opposition from prominent media figures such as JK Rowling. However the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform has finally passed into law following today’s vote.
The Scottish Gender Recognition Reform bill has been a great source of controversy. On the one hand you have trans people saying we should be able to change our birth certificates more easily and not require a medical diagnosis to do so. On the other you have Joanna Cherry saying lesbians will get upset for some unintelligible reason.
Consultation for reform of the Gender Recognition Act in Scotland began in 2017. Multiple debates, thinkpieces, articles, and conspiracy theories have taken off in the 5 years since then. With the bill having faced significant attempts to water it down from its original proposals, according to some Scottish trans people.
Across 3 days running as late as 1:30am, around 150 ammendments were painstakingly debated on and put to a vote. With those opposed to the bill working to slow progress down and being accused of filibustering by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The Scottish Gender Recognition Reform bill looks to improve the process of applying to a GRC in Scotland. Cabinet Secretary Shona Robinson has gone to great lengths to explain this and the fact that they are not looking to change the function of the GRC in any way.
Ammendments have targeted almost every line of the proposed update, including taking aim at the idea of demedicalising the process, attempting to stop under 16-17 year olds from being able to access it and a successful attempt to get mention of sex offenders on the face of the bill.
The three days have been described by politicians in Holyrood as disrespectful and some of the worst days Parliament has ever seen. As a transgender commentator watching along from home, the feeling is mutual however I don’t think we necessarily agree on the reasons for why.
This debate highlighted to me that there is a non-partisan hate for transgender people in Scottish parliament. From the endless attempts to waste time and push the vote on the bill back until sometime in the new year, to the weaponisation of violence against women as a means of opposing this bill, to comments described as “bordering on hate speech” made by Kenneth Gibson; watching this debate take place has been hard.
Those in favour of the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform bill speak of the dignity it aims to give to transgender people in Scotland. However I fail to see how even the kindest version of gender recognition act reform will repay the deficit we are now in for that dignity. As a transgender person this entire process has felt humiliating and degrading, we are treated as a problem to solve rather than people who deserve equality.
Not to mention the fact that nonbinary people are entirely left out of this bill with no such legal recognition or so-called dignity is being afforded to them. Though MSPs have promised further work will be done on nonbinary inclusion.
Congratulations to all those who fought tirelessly for this and endured hours of what I personally view as a rather degrading parliamentary experience. Trans Writes will be sourcing some pieces directly from Scottish trans people in the coming days and weeks.
They are the people who truly deserve to have their voices heard on this issue and we are honoured to be in the position to bring that to you.