The Scottish Parliament has been warned that allowing people to choose their own legal sex would signal a drastic societal change which puts women at risk.
During the equality committee’s session last week on the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, MSPs were told that the proposals would endanger single-sex spaces and the safety of women and young people.
If passed, the Bill would allow Scots as young as 16 to change their legal sex merely by self-declaration.
Anthony Horan, Director of the Roman Catholic Parliamentary Office, called it “incongruent” if 16-year-olds were not allowed to get a tattoo but were deemed able to change legal sex.
Lucy Hunter-Blackburn, of policy analysis group MurrayBlackburnMackenzie, said it would also become “very easy” for prisoners to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), which in the future could determine where offenders are housed.
Susan Smith, a director of For Women Scotland, added: “A weakness that permeates through all of this is that this Bill signals a societal change – that we are accepting self-ID”.
Under the Bill, an applicant must be either born in Scotland or “ordinarily resident” in the country to obtain a GRC, but there is no specified duration. Those attending Scottish universities would be covered by the Bill.
Maya Forstater, Executive Director of women’s group Sex Matters, warned that the proposals would attract “legislative tourists” from elsewhere in the UK.
Former British Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies has criticised the Scottish Government for only “talking to people who will back up their point of view. They are not asking anyone who is going to challenge [them], in any shape or form. That’s not what we do in a democracy”.
She emphasised the Bill’s impact on women’s sports, saying: “It is not right. It is sex discrimination in sport against people born female.”
Last month, a call for views revealed that fewer than four in ten of the Scottish public support the Government’s radical gender reform plans.
Of the 10,800 legitimate submissions to the Scottish Parliament’s equalities committee, 59 per cent opposed the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, with only 38 per cent in favour while three per cent did not know.