The Gender Recognition Act 2004 allows transgender people to apply to the Gender Recognition Panel to obtain legal recognition of their acquired gender.
At the time, the 2004 Act was seen as ground-breaking. But it is now out of date. The Scottish Government believes the 2004 Act needs to be reformed and simplified. The requirements laid down in the 2004 Act are too intrusive and onerous.
Our proposed reforms include removing requirements for applicants to provide medical evidence and to have lived in their acquired gender for two years before applying.
Some requirements would remain, such as applicants having to provide a statutory declaration to confirm they fully understand the implications of their application and intend to live in their acquired gender for the rest of their lives.
The 2004 Act extends across the United Kingdom. However, gender recognition is a devolved matter. As a result, legislation in this area is within the competence of the Scottish Parliament.
We will though work closely with the UK Government on any potential consequential changes needed to reserved or cross-border legislation. For example, legislation may be needed to ensure mutual acceptance of Gender Recognition Certificates across the UK.
This consultation proposes that the minimum age for applying for legal gender recognition should be reduced from 18 to 16. That is in line with the law in Scotland generally which provides rights for people at age 16 and protections up to age 18.
The consultation also discusses what arrangements should be put in place in relation to applications by, or on behalf of, those aged under 16. And it seeks views on what recognition should be given to non-binary people, who do not identify as either male or female. In both of these areas, the consultation outlines a number of potential options, and seeks views.
Reform of the 2004 Act is one of the major equality priorities for the Scottish Government. This consultation, with its associated partial Impact Assessments, carefully analyses the issues. I look forward to the responses.
Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities