Legally changing gender 'should be easier'

Transgender symbol on a traffic light

Plans to make it easier and less intrusive for those who are transgender or non-binary to change their birth certificates have been unveiled.

People who want to legally change gender may soon be able to do so from the age of 16 - or even younger with parental consent.

The Scottish government has launched a consultation on the plans.

At present, you have to be over 18 and apply to a panel for a gender recognition certificate.

Equalities Minister Angela Constance said the law needed updating to make sure transgender and non-binary people in Scotland were treated with dignity and respect.

The proposals are designed to bring Scotland into line with international best practice, the Scottish government said.

They include:

  • Replacing requirements to provide medical evidence and to live in an acquired gender for two years
  • Reducing the age at which recognition can be obtained to 16 and consider options for under-16s
  • Options for the legal recognition of non-binary people - people who do not identify as male or female

Ms Constance said: "Scotland rightly has a reputation as one of the most progressive countries in relation to LGBTI legal and human rights equality in Europe - but we need to do more to progress equality for trans people.

"Both our Fairer Scotland action plan and this year's programme for government commit to renewing the 2004 Gender Recognition Act.

"This act was once considered ahead of its time but it now needs updated so we can ensure we are creating a fairer Scotland for those who are transgender and non-binary."

Jax Sinclair, who began to transition socially from female to male when he was 15, said not having documents that matched your gender could cause anxiety.

"At one point in the GP surgery I was turned away. They were just so confused because I had two different names. My birth certificate said I was female, but my ID said I was male and it was just a mess," he told BBC Scotland.

"It is quite a stressful situation to be in especially at a young age. You're 19 and you're just trying to start your life and it's harder starting your life out as an adult when you're trans."

Image caption Jax Sinclair began to transition socially when he was 15 years old

The consultation has been welcomed by equality groups in Scotland.

Scottish Trans Alliance manager James Morton said the current gender change process was "humiliating, offensive and expensive", and required the submission of "intrusive psychiatric evidence".

He added: "Being able to change 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.

"We urge the Scottish government to also provide legal gender recognition for non-binary trans people so that all trans people can have equal inclusion and acceptance within Scottish society."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites