Shirley-Anne Somerville
Shirley-Anne Somerville (Courtesy: snp.org)

Scotland, UK – The Scottish National Party announced plans to draft a bill that would modify the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA), and make it easier for transgender individuals, including those as young as 16 years of age, to replace legal recordation of their biological sex with a self-selected gender identity. The bill was expected to be published at the end of 2019 or early 2020.

However, the bill encountered a roadblock from senior party politicians, who expressed concern that the move could damage women’s rights as enshrined in law. This hesitation followed an organized grassroots movement by women’s campaign groups, who raised awareness about the potential of the GRA form to greatly impact to society, particularly women’s rights. The grassroots campaigns criticized the Scottish government for failing to engage with women’s groups while drafting the wording of the consultation.

As a result of the grassroots backlash, SNP figures are calling the law a “vote-killer,” and are “deeply worried” that rushing the bill into law “could damage the party’s performance at the Holyrood elections in May 2021,” today’s Times reported.

Many people are “only now developing an understanding of the implications of the self-identification of sex, particularly on women,” a letter written in April by 15 senior SNP politicians noted. “Conflating sex with gender identification affects a wide range of policy and service delivery, including data collection, education, health and social care, justice and sport. Changing the definition of male and female is a matter of profound significance. It is not something we should rush.”

Joan McAlpine told Madeleine Kearns of The Spectator:

Not just in Scotland, but elsewhere in the UK, crime is recorded according to self-ID, so, you end up with a situation where someone could commit a sexual offence as a male, call themselves female and it becomes a female offense.

Then there’s other things, like if people are self-identifying in the workplace and you’re trying to monitor for equal pay and so on. … This is not just about safety, but about issues to do with privacy and dignity as well as women’s right to say ‘no.’

Expressing joy about the upsurge in groups dedicated to women’s rights, Ann Porter, chair and co-founder Dundee’s Feisty Women told The Scotsman, “Women have huge political and economic power and it’s really time the politicians cottoned on to that.”

Under existing laws, those who wish to swap their sex classification for a gender identity on legal documents must have lived in their chosen gender identity for a minimum of two years, convince a panel that they have or have had gender dysphoria, present two reports from authorized medical professionals supporting the diagnosis, and formally declare that they intend to live in the acquired gender for life.

The SNP, declaring this existing model intrusive and outdated, hoped to replace it with a self-declaration model that would expedite the process by trusting that the individual is the best judge of which sex he or she should be legally classified with. Individuals as young as 16 would have the option of replacing the sex on their legal records with a gender identity. In addition, Scotland’s 2021 Census would ask questions about each person’s “gender identity,” rather than sex.

Equalities minister Shirley-Anne Somerville, who had excitedly announced the planned reforms on June 20, now offers assurances that the SNP will take the time to listen to and address concerns that modifications to the GRA will increase the risks women face from men. The Scottish government will “seek to build confidence that achieving equality and dignity for trans men and women is possible without diminishing the rights of anyone else,” she said.

The reform of the Gender Recognition Act is expected to be delayed for at least two years.

“Women are being required to stand and fight for our own rights,” Susan Sinclair of Scottish Women told The Scotsman. “Ideally none of us should be needing to do this as it should be getting done by the organisations who receive government funding to uphold women’s rights and the public authorities whose duties demand it.”

Read more on this story

Controversial reform of gender law in Scotland is unlikely to take effect for at least two years, The Sunday Times has learnt.
The Times
Controversial reform of gender law in Scotland is unlikely to take effect for at least two years, The Sunday Times has learnt.

Women in Scotland join forces to defend ‘threatened’ rights
The Scotsman
An upsurge in grassroots women’s campaign groups is the result of “threats” to women’s rights, according to leading feminists and academics.

Gender law delayed for more consultation on impact on women
The Scotsman
A new law on gender recognition has been delayed while the Scottish Government re-opens consultation on a draft Bill, it has been announced today.

Scottish transgender reforms put on hold
BBC News
Controversial plans to make it easier for people in Scotland to change their legally recognised gender have been put on hold.

The fight by women has just begun and Scotland is at the forefront
WomansPlaceUK/span>
The rapid growth of a vibrant movement of women in Scotland has been inspirational, and to see that movement properly represented by incredibly brave politicians moves us beyond words.

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