Changing legal sex in Scotland will become much easier if Scottish Government proposals become law.
Equalities Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville has set out a draft Bill removing safeguards in the process of changing legal sex, including reducing the waiting period from two years to just six months.
Yesterday, the Scottish Government launched a consultation on the Bill which also recommends that the minimum age for changing sex should be lowered from 18 to 16.
‘Period of reflection’
The reduction in waiting period would mean anyone applying to change legal sex need only have lived as if a member of the opposite sex for three months before they can be approved by the Registrar General for Scotland.
There would then be a three-month “reflection period” after which applicants are given a Gender Recognition Certificate and a new birth certificate.
Applicants will still be required to make a statutory declaration that they intend to live as their new sex permanently.
Women, girls and schools
In its 195-page consultation document, the Scottish Government claims that allowing people to self-identify their gender will have no effect on women’s rights.
It also makes no assessment of how schools would be affected by the proposed changes, saying it will produce guidance at a later date.
Shirley-Anne Somerville said those responding to the consultation should “be respectful and listen to others” and said her door remained open “to all those who wish to discuss our proposals”.
The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director Ciarán Kelly said: “The Scottish Government is protesting ‘There’s nothing to see here’, whilst it is actually proposing radical changes with far-reaching consequences.
“People as young at 16 will be able to change legal sex with ease, which could lead to young, confused people feeling under pressure to make life-altering decisions with little time to reconsider.
“Lowering the minimum age also raises serious issues for schools – something which has been entirely overlooked in the consultation.
“And it is worrying to see that, despite concerns being raised time and again by women’s groups and academics, the impact on the safety of women and girls is being dismissed.”
Earlier this month it was revealed that fewer than one in three Scots are in favour of allowing 16-year-olds to change sex.
1,009 people were surveyed by Panelbase for The Sunday Times. Of those, 50 per cent opposed the change while only 32 per cent supported it.