It's easy to feel disheartened by the attacks on trans people in the UK, whether they come in the form of statistics showing a rise in hate crime, or articles from broadsheet columnists who should know better. But progress is being made – albeit at a glacial pace – in some parts of the country.
Take Scotland, for instance. At the end of 2018, it wrapped up its own public consultation on Gender Recognition Act reform (the results of the GRA consultation in England and Wales, however, are still pending). Over 15,000 people responded, with 65 percent of Scots coming out in favour of a system of self-declaration.
"Currently, the process of acquiring legal gender recognition is really invasive, and a long, tedious process," explains Ethan Cain, 21, a trans university student and the NUS Scotland LGBT+ Representative. "It's quite expensive as well. The proposed changes to the GRA would make it a lot easier for binary trans people to apply for legal gender recognition."
Scotland's current law is based on the Gender Recognition Act 2004 that is also in place in England and Wales. Under this law, trans people must receive a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, gather a minimum of two years' evidence that they have lived as their gender and submit all the documentation to a faceless panel of experts. In Scotland, the process currently costs £140.
In response to the initial reform consultation, the Scottish government has launched a second consultation – this time to gather public responses to a draft bill that would simplify the process of legal recognition. It would remove the need for medical evidence of dysphoria and reduce the two-year minimum to three months, with a mandatory three-month reflection period between applying for legal recognition and confirmation of the application.
"Trans people have waited far too long for equality and to be recognised for who they are," says Colin Macfarlane, the director of Stonewall Scotland. "Reforming the Gender Recognition Act will simply make it easier for trans people to live their day-to-day lives, by making it less complicated to get the right gender on their birth certificate.
"At a time of increasing polarisation and of misinformation about what reform will mean, our trans friends, colleagues and family are living through an increasing hostile environment. That's why it's more important than ever that all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, and our allies, stand together as a united community and respond to the Scottish government's consultation."
The Scottish public consultation is closing on the 17th of March. It's open to the wider public – so you don't have to be Scottish to respond, although your response will be weighted slightly higher if you are. If you want to make your voice heard and stand up for trans rights, you can head over to this page on Stonewall here.