Since being trans is no longer a medical issue or a psychological one, the proponents of this Bill have done a poor job of explaining what being trans is - how it’s defined; why medical intervention is required other than for cosmetic purposes. If a person cannot live in the body they have they are presenting with a psychiatric disorder, which is must be respected and treated. If it’s something else, that needs defined and made clear to the population and those making laws should understand it.

We’ve been asking these questions respectfully for five years now, and no straightforward answers are forthcoming from trans advocates or MSPs in favour of change.

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Well said. Does Kezisn Dugdale not realise that the MAN in charge of Edinburgh Rape Crisis got his "women only " position by not disclosing his " trans " status and that he says female rape victims are bigots if they object to being counselled by him ?

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Statutory declarations cannot be worth the paper they are written on. I wrote this for my submission to the Women and Equalities Select Committee's enquiry into the GRA:

"35. It is a matter of court record that an individual [Freddy McConnell] (who is now a mother) stopped taking testosterone in September 2016, applied for a GRC in January 2017, was granted a GRC in April 2017 and started fertility treatment just ten days later to become pregnant. Pregnancy is the most defining act of being female yet this individual, after having made a statutory declaration for the GRC application that she ‘intends to continue to live in the acquired gender [ie ‘male’] until death’, took that course. This individual has not been prosecuted [for] any breach of that statutory declaration.

36. The only conclusions from this are that either there is no defining characteristic of male or female and ‘living in the acquired gender’ that can be identified or that the statutory declaration is meaningless, unenforced and unenforceable.

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Thank you Susan for laying this out in such a rational articulate fashion.

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I can't understand how these politicians don't seem to understand the nature of laws and their absolute reliance on objectivity. Nowhere else is 'identity', let alone 'self-identity' the basis for a law because no way of objectively measuring it exists. This is why the so-called 'gay rights' a) are available to everyone, and b) only things that gay people want to do. Hence anyone can marry someone of the same sex, and it doesn't matter if someone discriminates against you because they think you are gay or bi when that's actually not the case. We ALL have gay rights. Here, as there is no solid legal or objective basis for calling someone trans, the ability to choose one's sex is available to everyone and anyone. Similarly, the 'false declaration' has no teeth because who in the world can prove that someone didn't 'intend' to live 'in that gender' for life (whatever that even means)? Even if a man uses his new female 'gender' to commit crimes, that doesn't prove it was his intent! Hopeless naivety on the part of the Scottish gov.

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Very clearly laid out, thank you Susan.

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even Shakespeare said 'question not the need' - need it most? Sorry mate - women need protecting as women.

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Thank you Susan for this great response which articulates so clearly the holes in the argument for self-id reform as has been proposed. I forwarded it to a younger family member who is in the "be kind" school of thinking and was delighted to get a gracious "thank you, it gave me food for thought" acknowledgement. Your rational and thoughtful writing will I hope be more persuasive in the long run than my own poor attempts to debate the topic! Many thanks for your courageous stance.

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Here’s an email I got from Humza Yousaf when I wrote with concerns. Clearly it’s the party line.

Dear James,

Thank you for getting in touch with me as your constituency MSP regarding reforms to the Gender Recognition Act.

Reforming the 2004 Act is a commitment made by the SNP in the manifesto upon which it was elected. I have considered this issue seriously for some time and I do support the case for reform. However, I recognise that this is a difficult issue with valid concerns on all sides which need to be carefully considered.

As you may be aware, multiple consultations have been carried out on the issue and independent analyses of these consultations shows that the majority of respondents agreed with the need for reform.

Scotland can be proud of its contemporary record on promoting equality but civil rights is not a static issue and people in the trans and non-binary communities still suffer from stigma and marginalisation. It is clear we have much work to do.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 was ground-breaking when it was introduced; it allowed trans people to obtain legal gender recognition for the first time. However, it is now the Scottish Government’s view that the 2004 Act arrangements are complicated, time-consuming and oppressive for applicants.

Currently the process requires a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. I support the removal of this psychiatric requirement. It is an intrusive mental burden on a person at a seminal time in their life; I believe that this requirement, coupled with its intrinsic associations with mental health issues, serves to fuel the wider stigmatisation of the trans community. I cannot think of another community which is required to prove mental illness in order to be granted effective legal existence.

In my view, we need to reverse the framing of mental illness as it relates to trans people. Where opponents of reform may speak to the dangers of lifelong regret, I think of the potential positive impacts on mental health if legal recognition and societal attitudes towards trans people are progressed.

Gender dysphoria can be the result of marginalisation of a person’s trans identify and not the cause of it. In other words, people are not trans because they are mentally ill - people are trans and, as a result, they experience vilification and abuse which can, and commonly does, lead to mental illness. Therefore, dignifying the process for legal recognition, and reducing associated stigma, could improve mental wellbeing and societal enfranchisement for trans people.

I am fearful that the more toxic rhetoric being used to oppose trans equality is the same harmful propaganda that has been peddled against gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, namely: sexual perversion, notions of early ideological indoctrination, predatory behaviour, and broad brush associations with mental illness. These are all concepts and misconceptions that are used to homogenise, demonise, and dehumanise trans people and it is reminiscent of the same extreme rhetoric historically used to push back against rights progressions for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.

The wider point is that civil rights movements for oppressed communities have always been met with political opposition and this has sometimes manifested in hateful agendas. Though inequality remains rife for LGBTQ+ people, we now broadly look back upon the historic treatment of LGB people with rightful horror.

Meanwhile, people in the trans community face daily abuse and some of the poorest outcomes. Suicidality, regular harassment, violence and systemic discrimination are commonplace and I contend that an outdated system of legal recognition is a contributory factor to this societal ostracism. That is something we can act upon now.

Given the systemically poor outcomes experienced by trans and non-binary individuals, I believe that the measures we take here will set the course for how history views our treatment of the these vulnerable people – as it did for our shameful historical treatment of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.

And, at this point, I would also note the effective absence of trans men from this discussion because of the focus – rightly or wrongly – on the purported conflict between trans and women’s rights. I think more can be done to broaden the discussion so that we are promoting the rights of all vulnerable groups.

Whilst I understand that legitimate concerns persist around GRA reform, we need to be better than the arguments of the past. We need to end up on the right side of history this time. There is undoubtedly blame on the extremes of every side of this debate but the polarisation of this issue has led us to lose sight of what the reforms are actually trying to achieve.

On the issue of age and capacity. GRA reform would be in line with a host of other rights that can be realised by 16 year olds in Scotland – such as entering into a marriage or civil partnership and voting at Scottish elections. A young person in Scotland is legally an adult at 16. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Yogyakarta Principles all indicate that this reform would be in keeping with extending the rights of young trans people.

The Scottish Government intends that applying for legal gender recognition would remain a serious, solemn and important step. It was previously proposed that applicants would be required to appear in person before a notary public or justice of the peace to make a statutory declaration, confirming the truth of their application and their intention to live in their acquired gender for the remainder of their life. Applications would then be submitted for consideration by either the Scottish Government or the National Records of Scotland. Currently, making a false statutory declaration is a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment, and this measure would remain in place. Additionally, the Scottish Government previously proposed that it would continue to be possible for a gender recognition certificate to be revoked where it was obtained by fraud.

The Scottish Government is not seeking to change the existing arrangements under the Equality Act. Using exceptions in the Equality Act, organisations can decide on a case by case basis whether it is right in the circumstances to offer a service to a trans woman. Such services will continue to risk assess all their potential service users. But it is important to note that domestic abuse refuges and women-only spaces in Scotland already offer trans-inclusive services. This will not be brought about as a result of the GRA reform. I want to emphasise that at this stage, I am not convinced reform would put women-only spaces in any added danger. I would need to see the content of any Bill before these specific matters are considered further.

As with several other countries that have enacted similar proposals, GRA reform will simply streamline a process that already exists. It will not confer new rights upon trans people; rather it will facilitate the realisation of pre-existing human rights. At its core, it is a tool to make legal recognition for trans people more dignified and compassionate.

I believe that we can strike the balance in a way that safeguards the concerns raised by some groups whilst achieving the primary objective of advancing the rights of trans and non-binary people. I hope that the Government and the public can proceed with this discussion in a respectful and constructive manner.

I will continue to advocate for equality and social justice for society’s most vulnerable people, and, where legitimate concerns are raised, I will endeavour to listen.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. I hope that I have adequately outlined my position with regards to GRA reform and I will look upon any new proposals with interest to inform my conclusions.

Kind regards,


Humza Yousaf MSP

MSP for Glasgow Pollok

Cabinet Secretary for Health & Social Care

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