Scotland passes landmark Gender Recognition Reform bill, helping make it easier for transgender people to self-ID

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Scotland passes landmark Gender Recognition Reform bill, helping make it easier for transgender people to self-ID


Scotland is now the first part of the UK to have approved a self-identification process for legally changing gender.

The reforms will remove the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order to receive a gender recognition certificate, lower the minimum age for applicants to 16 and reduce the time an applicant must live in their acquired gender from two years to three months for over-18s.


MSPs voted by 86 to 39 for the much-discussed Gender Recognition Reform Bill, after Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison urged MSPs people to back the legislation.


Robison issued this statement about the passing of the bill:

“This is an historic day for equality in Scotland with the gender recognition reform bill being approved by parliament and by members of all parties.

It simplifies and improves the process for a trans person to obtain a gender recognition certificate – which many currently find intrusive, medicalised and bureaucratic.

The legislation makes no change to the reserved Equality Act 2010 and that principle is enshrined in the bill. As I have made clear, the Scottish government continues to support the provision of single-sex services and the rights of women.

The passing of this bill is a significant step forward in creating a more equal Scotland, where trans people feel valued, included and empowered.”


Stonewall director of nations Colin MacFarlane called the bill’s passing “a tremendous step forward for trans rights and for LGBTQ+ people in Scotland”.

“It brings Scotland into line with international best practice and once again establishes itself as a world leader on human rights, by making a small change which brings dignity to trans people who deserve to be legally recognised for who they are,” MacFarlane added.


The key changes as a result of the bill passing are simply:

  • Lowering the minimum age requirement for applicants to 16
  • Moving from a medicalised requirement for psychiatric diagnosis to a system of statutory declaration (“self-declaration”)
  • Reducing the requirement for two years living “in line” with your gender to three months, with a three-month “reflection period” between the application and the certificate being issued


Ahead of the final vote, on December 22, Scotland’s first minster Nicola Sturgeon said she “will never apologise for trying to spread equality”.

“Removing the need for medical diagnosis for a trans person who wants to legally change their gender is one of the purposes of this legislation because that is one of the most traumatic and dehumanising parts of the current system,” she said.


“As a woman, I know what it’s like to live with the fear at times of potential violence from men.

“I’m a feminist and I will do everything that I can to protect women’s rights for as long as live, but I also think it’s an important part of my responsibility to make life a little bit easier for stigmatised minorities in our country, to make their lives a bit better and remove some of the trauma they live with on a day-to-day basis and I think it is important to do that for the tiny minority of trans people in our society and I will”