Scotland’s third sector can play a huge role in working towards trans equality, and now is the time to act.

We’ve come a long way towards LGBT equality in the last few decades. But now more than ever, we need to unite for trans rights. Trans people are facing huge levels of abuse and discrimination in their daily lives.  Police Scotland revealed last month that hate crimes towards the trans community have almost doubled since 2015. This is unacceptable and needs to change.

To create a more equal Scotland, we need to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) – the law that governs how trans people can have the correct gender marker registered on their birth certificate. At the moment, the process is lengthy, arduous, humiliating and not to mention, expensive. Trans people must submit a portfolio of evidence, including a medical diagnosis, medical reports and proof that they’ve been living as a man or a woman, to a panel of people who they will never meet.

Having the wrong gender on your birth certificate isn’t just degrading, it also causes practical problems in trans people’s lives. Without a Gender Recognition Certificate, your privacy isn’t as well protected. And trans people can be recognised as the wrong gender in marriage and in death. For non-binary people, there’s still no process to have their gender reflected on official documents.

Having a birth certificate with you gender on it matters. It is a statement of validation that you are recognised by the state, at a time when trans people need recognition and acceptance. That’s why we, along with other trans and LGBT organisations and activists, have been campaigning to update this system to one which is less intrusive and more accessible.

The Scottish Government’s consultation on its draft Gender Recognition Reform Bill is a chance to have a streamlined, de-medicalised process that would improve the lives of so many trans people. The system being proposed is one that will rely on statutory declaration. This isn’t a new system or way of working, it’s one that’s been tried and tested in many places, and is already in use in other countries like Ireland.

But to make sure this reform goes ahead; we need your help and the help of the whole sector. Third sector organisations in Scotland have a proud history of supporting trans people, both as service users and within LGBT communities. The Scottish Government wants to hear from as diverse a range of voices as possible to hear why trans equality matters and to support these changes. This is a critical opportunity to improve the lives of trans people across Scotland. It only takes 5 – 10 minutes to respond and show your organisation’s support for trans people. Whether this is your first time responding to a Government consultation or your fiftieth, we’ve produced some guidance you can read below to make it as easy and smooth as possible.

But don’t just stop there. Talk about this with your colleagues, friends and family and ask them to respond too. The more people we get to Come Out for Trans Equality, the sooner we create a Scotland where every person can be accepted for who they are – no exceptions.

Read our guidance and respond to the consultation at www.stonewallscotland.org.uk/trans-equality 

The consultation closes on Tuesday 17 March 2020.