Holyrood committee rubber stamps Scot Govt plans for 16-year-old sex-swaps

A parliamentary committee has backed controversial Scottish Government plans to allow people as young as 16 to choose their own legal sex, despite significant opposition.

The Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee voted by a majority of five to two that the general principles of the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill be approved.

The proposed legislation makes it much easier to change legal sex by removing the need for medical evidence and reducing the two-year waiting period to three months. It even extends ‘sex swaps’ to 16-year-olds.


The Committee reported that it had received 10,800 individual responses to its “call for views” on Gender Recognition Reform. “Of these”, it said, “59% disagreed with the overall purpose of the Bill; 38% agreed; and 3% indicated that they did not know”.

More than 60 per cent of responses did not believe the minimum age for applicants should be reduced from 18 to 16. Concerns were raised about the protection of children and young people, particularly in relation to them making “life altering” decisions at such a young age that may involve sex-swap drugs and surgery.

According to the report, the majority of the Committee were in favour of “lowering the age of eligibility for applicants from 18 to 16”, but a number were “concerned that a 16-year old may not be mature enough to make this decision” and wished to retain the existing age limit.

However, Scottish Greens MSP Maggie Chapman formally asked for the Scottish Government to consider enabling “young people under the age of 16 to apply”.


The Committee was split on most recommendations, including the removal of the need for medical evidence, reducing the reflection period, and the implications of the Cass Review for the process.

Commissioned in 2020, the Cass Review conducted an independent assessment of NHS England’s gender identity services for children and young people.

After it found the Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service in London not to be a “safe or viable long-term option”, NHS England announced it would close early next year. However, Scottish officials have refused to take action on the equivalent service in Scotland, the Sandyford clinic in Glasgow.

That is despite similar concerns about the use of puberty-blocking drugs and ‘sex swap’ surgeries for vulnerable youngsters. A report on Sandyford’s suitability is not due to be released until December 2023 by which time the Bill is likely to have been passed by Holyrood.


Simon Calvert, the Institute’s Deputy Director (Public Affairs), described the Committee’s proposal “to allow 16-year-old children to change their birth certificates” without any safeguards as a “madcap plan by any measure”.

And he branded their plan to ignore the Cass Review as “criminal, given the damage being done to young people in the name of gender ideology”.

Mr Calvert also commented: “This week the Equality And Human Rights Commission wrote to the Scottish Government highlighting the impossible position Scotland would be in by going it alone with these plans.”

He argued: “The Scottish Government’s Bill would allow for trans tourism, where non-Scots could live in Scotland for three months and get a new birth certificate.”

Also see:

‘Gender self-ID plans endanger women’, Scots warn Holyrood

‘Many trans people’ oppose Scot Govt’s gender self-ID Bill

Grassroots resistance grows to Scot Govt gender self-ID plans

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