Gender Recognition Reform Bill

Simplifying how trans people apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate.

New legislation to improve the system through which transgender people can gain legal recognition has been published.

The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill will amend the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to introduce new criteria for applicants who wish to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

Obtaining a GRC means a trans person is legally recognised in their acquired gender and can obtain a new birth certificate showing that gender.

The Bill will require applicants to make a legally binding declaration that they intend to live permanently in their acquired gender. They will no longer need to provide medical reports or evidence.

Applicants will be required to live in their acquired gender for a minimum of three months, with a reflection period of a further three months before a certificate is granted.

The Bill proposes a criminal offence for applicants to make a false statutory declaration, with a potential punishment of up to two years’ imprisonment.

The Bill follows extensive consultation. Almost two thirds (60%) of respondents to the Scottish Government’s 2017 consultation on the principles of gender recognition reform were in favour of introducing a statutory declaration system for legal gender recognition.

Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said:

“Trans men and women are among the most stigmatised in our society and many find the current system for obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate to be intrusive, medicalised and bureaucratic.

“This Bill does not introduce any new rights for trans people. It is about simplifying and improving the process for a trans person to gain legal recognition, which has been a right for 18 years.

“Our support for trans rights does not conflict with our continued strong commitment to uphold the rights and protections that women and girls currently have under the 2010 Equality Act. This Bill makes no changes to that Act.

“The Scottish Government has always been keen to seek consensus where possible and to work to support respectful debate. That will remain a guiding principle as the Bill progresses through Parliament.”


Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill

Factsheet and background to the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill

The proposals in the Bill include:

  • Removing the requirement for a medical diagnosis and evidence
  • Applications to be made to the Registrar General for Scotland instead of the Gender Recognition Panel, a UK Tribunal
  • Applicants to make a statutory declaration that they have lived in the acquired gender for a minimum of three months before applying (rather than the current period of two years) and that they intend to live permanently in their acquired gender
  • Applications to be determined by the Registrar General after a further three month reflection period
  • Applicants to be either be the subject of an entry in a birth or adoption record kept by the Registrar General, or be ordinarily resident in Scotland
  • The automatic recognition in Scots law of gender recognition obtained in the rest of the UK, and overseas, unless it would be manifestly contrary to public policy
  • Reduction of the minimum age of applicants from 18 to 16
  • A requirement on the Registrar General to produce an annual report
  • The removal of powers to introduce a fee

As is the case under the existing law, there will be no requirement for applicants to undergo gender reassignment treatment.

In 2017, the Scottish Government consulted on the principles of reform to the Gender Recognition Act. A further consultation in 2019 focused on a number of specific aspects – including the requirement for applicants to live in their acquired gender for three months prior to submitting an application.

Trans people have been able to apply for legal gender recognition through a Gender Recognition Certificate since 2004. Not all trans people have a GRC and no-one is required to have one.


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