The Scottish government has been warned that plans to let children legally ‘change gender’ amount to “state-sponsored child abuse”.
The proposal was among a raft of reforms to the “out-of-date” UK Gender Recognition Act 2004 unveiled by Equalities secretary Angela Constance on Thursday, including giving legal recognition for ‘non-binary’ people — individuals who claim they ‘identify’ as neither male nor female.
Ms. Constance said: “Scotland rightly has a reputation as one of the most progressive countries in relation to LGBTI legal and human rights equality in Europe — but we need to do more to progress equality for trans people.”
For Scots who want to change gender, ministers want to replace the “intrusive and onerous” current rules — which see applicants required to provide a medical diagnosis, and to have lived as their chosen gender for two years — with a ‘self-declaration’ system.
This would enable people wishing to legally change their gender to do so by signing a statutory declaration. While ministers back lowering the age at which it is possible to apply for a sex change from 18 to 16, the consultation is also looking at plans to allow under-16s to legally “reassign” their gender.
Options under consideration by the government, on whether to allow children to apply to change their gender, include a court application by their parents or on their own behalf if they are judged to have “sufficient capacity”.
Primary schools adopting the plan faster than secondaries https://t.co/92RPSF1ZbU
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 17, 2017
While the consultation paper noted that over-12s are presumed to be mature enough to instruct a solicitor and “a child who may not have reached puberty might apply to the court”, it said ministers were opposed to an option in which any 12-year-old could apply, asserting that such an approach would “take no account of a child’s capacity to take decisions nor their physical maturity”.
But plans to allow under-16s to change the gender on their birth certificate — with the court process discussed in the paper potentially bypassing the authority of parents — has attracted some backlash.
Simon Calvert, Deputy Director for Public Affairs at The Christian Institute, warned that the proposals put young people at risk, urging politicians to “stop and ask themselves if jumping on this bandwagon is really helping children”.
He said: “The more trans politics grips our culture, the more young people are being rushed into damaging hormone therapy and mutilating surgery by people motivated more by political posturing than the best interests of children.
“We are seeing more and more cases of young people experiencing profound regret at the damage done to their bodies and mental health by being placed on a conveyor belt to trans-identity simply for questioning their gender.”
'Nearly all' of trans students are self-harming in Scotland, Stonewall report finds. https://t.co/tuQv9iFarP pic.twitter.com/pwLJ1ibnTo
— LGBT Scotland 🏳️🌈 🎁🎅🎄 (@lgbtscot) September 29, 2017
Dr. Stuart Waiton, a sociologist at Abertay University, added: “Eighteen-year-olds can do what they like with their bodies.
“But for a government to suggest that 12-year-olds, immature young people, who don’t have the ‘right’ to go to bed when they want, let alone anything else, can have gender reassignment should be seen as a form of state-sponsored child abuse.”
However, the proposals have been welcomed by LGBT groups, especially regarding plans to ditch the current process for legally changing gender, which Scottish Trans Alliance manager James Morton branded “humiliating” and “offensive”.
Stonewall Scotland director Colin MacFarlane said: “We believe a better Gender Recognition Act is a crucial next step in achieving equality for all trans people and will help reduce the discrimination and abuse that is all too prevalent in our society.”
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