The Scottish Government have introduced proposals for a new law that would change the way someone can legally change their gender. The Scottish Parliament’s Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee are consulting on the plans, so this is an opportunity for anyone in Scotland to have their say.

Background to the Gender Recognition Act 2004

Through the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) it is possible for those diagnosed with gender dysphoria and over 18 to legally change their gender. Transgender adults can apply to what is a called a Gender Recognition Panel’ to change their birth certificate (and receive what is known as a gender recognition certificate, GRC) from male to female or vice a versa.

The process for gaining a GRC is for the individual to:

  • provide medical proof of gender dysphoria
  • evidence of living in acquired gender for at least two years
  • confirm their intent to live in new gender identity till death

At present, it is not possible anywhere in the four nations for an individual to self-declare changes to gender and to have that legally recognised.

This is a significant reform many transgender activists and supporters have been campaigning for and is one of the new proposals included in the Scottish Government reform bill. 

What are the Scottish government's proposals?

The proposed new law would make significant changes to the current system, at the core of these is the removal of any need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. At present people wanting a Gender Recognition Certificate have to have lived in their acquired gender’ for two years, whereas it is proposed this is reduced to three months with a further three months reflection. A further change suggested is that the minimum age at which someone can begin the process is reduced from 18 to 16.

These are major changes and the current proposals lack safeguards and undermine the seriousness of the decision involved in reassigning one’s gender. The proposals suggest the introduction of a new offence of making a false declaration’ but it is unclear how this would be proved, and in fact could be problematic for people who having transitioned decide that they want to return to their birth sex.

Responding to consultation

You can either respond through a short survey, with simple answers to all but one question and an opportunity at the end to make further comments in support of your answers, or respond in more detail to the proposals.

We have set out some suggestions that may help you respond to this consultation below. The deadline for responses is 16 May.

Guide to responding to the short survey

1. Do you agree with the overall purpose of the Bill?


2. Should applicants for a GRC require a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria or supporting documentation?


3. Should the period of living in an acquired gender be reduced from 2 years to 3 months (with an additional 3 month reflection period)?


4. Do you agree with the introduction of a 3-month reflection period before a GRC is granted?

Yes or Don’t Knowthere should be a reflection period, but it should be longer than 3 months.

5. Do you agree with the removal of the Gender Recognition Panel from the Process, with applications instead being made to the Registrar General?


6. Should the minimum age for applicants be reduced from 18 to 16?


7. Do you anticipate any negative impacts from the provisions in the Bill?


8. Please provide any further comments you have about the provisions in the Bill.

An open question; feel free to respond to any of the questions in more detail in this space. 

You may wish to comment on some of the following points:

  • Require supporting medical/​tribunal evidence as opposed to a self-declaration system;
  • Increasing the statutory declaration period of living in the acquired gender above 3 months – this is a lifelong commitment;
  • Keeping the minimum age of applicants to 18;
  • Amending the false application offense to make it clear what is and isn’t a false declaration, and how it would be enforced.

Guide to responding to the detailed proposals