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An Open Letter to LGB people and Allies

Dear friend,

In 2004, after three decades of campaigning and legal challenges, the Gender Recognition Act finally provided a way for trans people in the UK to change the legal gender on their birth certificates. It was a hard fought victory for LGBTI equality, but it wasn’t perfect.

Trans people are required to submit intrusive psychiatric evidence to a faceless tribunal panel in order to change the gender on their birth certificate, something that isn’t the case will all other identity documents (such as passports and driving licences). Many trans people aren’t even recognised in law and trans people under 18 have no access to the legal recognition they need. It’s time to end this dehumanising treatment.

Access to gender recognition is important to uphold trans people’s privacy and dignity and also to ensure that their pensions, insurance policies, civil partnerships and marriages are administered correctly.

The Scottish Government are currently consulting on reforming the Gender Recognition Act to bring Scotland in line with international human rights best practice, including allowing recognition for non-binary people (who do not identify as men or women).

Please urgently respond to the consultation to support trans rights, you can read our guide at: www.equalrecognition.scot/consultation

Over the last few weeks and months we have seen anti-trans articles in the media ranging from frustratingly ignorant to outrageously hostile. Anti-trans forces within and outside Scotland are mobilising intensively to try to block progress. A horrible sustained campaign of misinformation and incitement to moral panic has taken its toll and I’m not the only person who has had trans friends left hurt and fearful. Sadly, trans friends are being demonised by the same anti-equality arguments made during the campaign to repeal section 28 and against same-sex marriage.

This is not the Scotland I want to live in.

Despite the demeaning headlines this change doesn’t affect access to toilets, changing rooms or other services. Honestly, name a time when you’ve EVER had to show your birth certificate to get into the loo? Nor does legal gender recognition affect participation in sports competitions, this is all misinformation. This change simply makes the legal process easier and more accessible to greater numbers of trans people.

This is a debate about how some of the most marginalised people in our community are treated. It’s about making things just that little bit easier for trans people. It’s about dignity but most of all its about making Scotland a more equal place.

Trans people have always been with us in the fight for the realisation of equality. From the first brick at the Stonewall riots to our modern day fight for Equal Marriage right here in Scotland, trans people have stood side by side with LGB folk.

It’s always a difficult thing when a small minority has to persuade the majority of the need for their rights to be recognised. Given the level of the anti-trans campaign, it is likely that many hundreds, if not thousands, of negative responses have flooded in to the consultation.

Earlier this month Bermuda became the first country in the world to roll back same-sex marriage. Hard won equality disappeared overnight and LGBTI people lost important rights. Be in no doubt, the opponents of LGBTI equality are buoyant. A loss on trans rights would have potentially catastrophic consequences for all of us – LGBTI rights we have taken for granted would face renewed challenge. We cannot let this happen.

That’s why if you care about LGBTI equality, you need to be a trans ally.

For every trans friend you’ve ever had or will ever have, for every time the trans community have stood side by side for the realisation of our rights, I’m asking you to respond to the Scottish Government consultation in support of trans equality.

Please urgently respond to the consultation to support trans rights, you can read our guide at: www.equalrecognition.scot/consultation

You don’t have to answer all of the consultation questions, and comments are optional. The key questions are 1, 5, 6, 12 and 13 – please give your answer to any, or all of those.

This is what Scottish Trans Alliance is saying on those questions

  • Q1: We AGREE with the proposal for a self-declaration process.
  • Q5: We AGREE with allowing applications by 16 and 17 year olds
  • Q6:  We support OPTION 3 – PARENTAL APPLICATION for under 16s
  • Q12: We support YES for non-binary recognition
  • Q13: We support OPTIONS 1, 3, 4 AND 6 to ensure full non-binary recognition.

The consultation closes at 5:00pm on 1 March, that’s just three days from now. Please respond and get everyone you know, who cares about equality, to respond now: www.tinyurl.com/GRAconsult

Today I’m making a stand for my trans friends, I ask you to join me.

You can find out more on our Equal Recognition Website: www.equalrecognition.scot/consultation

Yours for Equality

Scott Cuthbertson

Development Manager

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