Meeting the Scottish Gender Recognition Unit and our Concerns over changes to the current legislation

We’re grateful to the Scottish GRUnit for meeting us recently to discuss our concerns over its proposals to reform the gender recognition process, notably lowering eligibility to 16yr olds, the removal of medical diagnosis and reducing the waiting time to 3 months.

We highlighted the high level of co-morbidities and/or trauma our children have experienced, including many with an ASD diagnosis. Many of our children have previously come out as lesbian or gay. The majority of our children are adolescent girls, few having experienced gender distress before puberty.

While the government stressed that GRC is a legal process entirely separate from any medical process, in reality, they are two sides of the same coin. If a 16-17yr old has obtained a legal change of sex, therapeutic work intended to help them explore their identity is a non-starter.

If the medical strategy is to not ‘affirm’, in order to create a neutral space for self-exploration, then obtaining a legal change of sex creates unhelpful new legal ‘facts on the ground’ that conflict with and compromise the clinical goals. The official hadn’t considered this.

The Scottish government is keen to incorporate Article 24 of the UNCRC into law, which establishes a right to healthcare for children up to 18. But lowering GRC eligibility to 16 may infringe Article 24 due to this disincentive it creates to reduce engagement in therapy.

Lowering GRC eligibility to 16 also encourages vulnerable adolescents on a path to transition by signaling to them that their identity development should have concluded by then, when in fact this would be highly premature. This is inherently unsafe and will damage life chances.

As Australian gender clinicians reported recently,

“many children arrived at the clinic with strongly entrenched beliefs & with no interest in further exploring their medical, psychological, social, or familial situation…It also became apparent to us that many children did not have the cognitive, psychological, or emotional capacity to understand the decisions they were making”

We should be helping adolescents to think things through, not foreclosing this process.

We note the EHRC opinion that emphasises the importance of appropriate clinical advice for young people, including to “reconcile a person to their biological sex where clinically indicated, incl for children & young people aged under 18

The Bill will inhibit the discharge of parental responsibility to ensure appropriate healthcare. Aged 13 or 14, teens will know they’ve just a couple of years before they can legally change sex, so where’s the incentive to get exploratory therapy? The Government is effectively encouraging transition.

Detransitioners need a path to legally renounce their identity change. So we’re grateful for the reassurance that, while GRCs are for individuals who feel certain at the time that it’s a permanent decision, it will be as straightforward to reverse a GRC as it is to obtain one.

In the interests of clarity, here is the information we obtained from the Scottish government, about reversing a GRC under the proposed new self-declaration system, and its interaction with the rest of UK system.

Scottish Government Response to a FOI request

However, the Scottish GRC proposals raise legal anomalies. A UK citizen could simultaneously have two different legal sexes within the UK, by obtaining a Scottish GRC but not an English one; or (for English GRC-holders resident in Scotland) obtaining then reversing a Scottish GRC.

If an English detransitioner with an English GRC establishes residency in Scotland, can they apply for a Scottish GRC to align with the English one and then in 3 months apply for a reversal? If so, does that also reverse their English GRC?

Who would have jurisdiction over the change in the birth certificate given that while birth certs are issued locally, they’re UK documents in the same way that driver’s licenses and passports are? We raised these cross-border anomalies with the Scottish government and hope they’ll clarify.

We were pleased the GRUnit agreed to meet us, and have indicated we would be happy to continue discussions and meet MSP Shona Robison, should she wish to understand our concerns as parents of children who’ll be impacted by the Bill.

We are grateful to The Sunday Times Scotland for reporting our concerns over the proposal that young people uncomfortable with their bodies should commit to a final, legal answer by the young age of 16. This is the message that the Scottish proposal on GRC eligibility sends vulnerable adolescents.

You can read the full article here.

Are You A Parent In Scotland?

We have an active membership of parents in Scotland whose families have been impacted by gender identity problems. We support one another online and in person, and we aim for a respectful engagement with other organisations, including government bodies, so that they can better understand our concerns.

If you’re a parent in Scotland wanting to support your child through gender distress, don’t feel alone – get in touch. You’ll find other parents who know what you’re going through, eager to listen, share experiences & build your confidence.