About the Group
Who was involved?
The Working Group for Non-Binary People's Equality (the working group) was convened by the Scottish Government to make recommendations to Scottish Ministers on action to improve non-binary people's lives.
Membership of the group included academics in relevant fields, staff from LGBTI+ charities across Scotland, and non-binary people, each of whom was nominated by the LGBTI+ organisations involved. This was to ensure that lived experience was included in the membership, and that this was reflected in the discussions and recommendations made.
Details of the group membership, terms of reference, and minutes from group meetings can all be found at: https://www.gov.scot/groups/non-binary-working-group/
All of the recommendations in our report reflect the consensus of discussions in the working group, and are based on the expertise offered in the working group and at community forums.
Who are we talking about?
A non-binary person is a person who experiences their gender as in-between or beyond the two categories "man" and "woman", as fluctuating between "man" and "woman", or as having no gender, either permanently or some of the time. A trans person is someone who does not identify with the sex assigned to them at birth.
Many but not all non-binary people are also trans, and some, but not all, trans people are also non-binary: the two categories have a big overlap. Many of the issues faced by non-binary people are inseparable from those faced by trans people who are not non-binary, so many of our recommendations are of value to all trans people. Because of these considerations, we have used "trans and non-binary people", where relevant, throughout this report.
Some of our recommendations will be of wider benefit to LGBTI+ people of all genders, and indeed to everyone. We highlight where positive benefits would be felt more broadly throughout the report.
What did we talk about?
We split our meetings into three broad themes:
- Where are non-binary people missing in data and the law?
- Access to services
These themes are overlapping and interrelated, and so some recommendations could sit comfortably in any of the sections. For example, when talking about negative experiences of healthcare, the group discussed the need to be recorded as either male or female on health records, which is an example of a situation in which non-binary people are "missing". Bearing this in mind, it is important to read the recommendations in full, and each section highlights the ways in which it is related to others.
Who gets to decide?
Throughout our discussions and development of recommendations, we felt that necessary change could only be achieved by involving non-binary people meaningfully in Scottish Government decision-making. As such, the first recommendation of the working group, which applies across all subsequent recommendations, is:
1. Meaningfully include marginalised people in decision-making by making processes accessible, including through financially compensating individuals for their time and contributions, and by prioritising the participation of people who are marginalised in multiple ways
This recommendation is crucial to ensuring that future work to improve non-binary people's lives, and the lives of all marginalised people in Scotland, is successful.
We reflected on the process of the non-binary working group itself when deciding to centre this recommendation. The group membership was limited in the lived experience it was able to contribute. All group members were white, and the community members involved were those who were able to make themselves available for meetings during working hours without being paid for their contributions.
There were significant barriers to community members participating meaningfully. The process required extensive voluntary time from participants, and the organisation and scope of the work was managed by Scottish Government officials and paid staff at LGBTI+ equality organisations, meaning that community members were not equal participants in defining the potential of the group's work.
We centred this recommendation as many of the barriers discussed by the group were the result of non-binary people not being included in decision-making processes. If you are not in the room when decisions are being made, then your needs will be neither understood nor addressed. This applies to all marginalised groups, who are not adequately included in decision-making processes, and who do not have equal power to shape policy-making or legislation. This exclusion is exacerbated further for those who are marginalised in multiple ways.
The Scottish Government must ensure that marginalised people can genuinely participate in shaping decisions that will affect their lives. This should include accessible and supported participation processes which involve marginalised people in shaping the scope of what is discussed, financially compensating them for their time and contributions, prioritising the participation of those people who are marginalised in multiple ways, and ensuring that marginalised people have greater access to power.
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