Gender recognition reform

Draft Bill to provide for full consultation.


A Gender Recognition (Scotland) Bill, to reform the current process of obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate, will be published by the end of the year, Cabinet Secretary for Equalities Shirley-Anne Somerville has announced.

An Equality Impact Assessment will be published alongside the bill to ensure all rights are protected.

The bill will be in draft form to allow for a full public consultation on its detail and to seek to address concerns which have been raised.

In a statement to Parliament, Ms Somerville also announced that guidance on the rights of women and trans people will be developed for use by the Scottish Government and other public bodies in relation to service provision and policy-making. It will also be publicly available.

In addition, a working group will be established under the Chief Statistician on the collection and use of data by sex and gender.

The bill’s proposals include:

• removing the current requirement for applicants to provide medical evidence of their diagnosis of gender dysphoria
• retaining the requirement that applicants must make a solemn statutory declaration they have been living in their acquired gender and intend to do so permanently
• requiring applicants to state that they have been living in their acquired gender for a minimum of three months
• introducing a three month period of reflection between applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate and confirming the application
• retaining the current law that a false statutory declaration is a criminal offence - with a potential punishment of up to two year’s imprisonment

The consultation will also seek views on:

• whether the minimum age of applicants should be reduced from 18 to 16
• what support is needed for children and young people who are uncertain of their gender identity

Ms Somerville said:
“Reforming the Gender Recognition Act will bring Scotland in line with international best practice and remove the stress that the current system causes.

“I understand that people have valid concerns, particularly around single sex services. Through ensuring there is a full consultation on the proposals in the draft bill, we can make sure these are fully addressed and people are aware of, and understand, our proposals.

“The actions I have outlined today will ensure we can protect and promote the rights of women and of trans people.”

Link to full statement 

Link to Q&A 

Link to Fact Sheet 

The first consultation on gender recognition was open from 9 November 2017 to 1 March 2018.   There were more than 15,500 responses. 60% of respondents were in favour of reform.

The key findings to the consultation were published in November 2018

Since the Gender Recognition Act 2004 came into force, trans people have been able to obtain a gender recognition certificate by applying to the Gender Recognition Panel, a tribunal.   A full gender recognition certificate provides legal recognition that a person has transitioned from male to female or female to male.

The Equality Act 2010, which is generally reserved to the UK Government, has a number of exceptions which allow trans people to be excluded from providing or receiving some single sex services, when it is proportionate and reasonable to do so.  



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