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SYP’s stance on Gender Recognition Reform

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SYP has engaged with the discussion on changes to Scotland’s Gender Recognition Act over the past several years and we’re grateful to see the current Bill reaching it’s Stage 1 debate today. Here is an overview of SYP’s discussions and positions on this issue. 

Off the back of initial support from members in 2019, SYP consulted on this topic as part of our 2021-26 Manifesto, From Scotland’s Young People.  

62% of the young people we consulted for this agreed that an individual should be permitted to change their legal gender from the age of 16, through a simple process of self- declaration. 

Red background with text that reads "An individual should be permitted to change their legal gender from the age of 16, through a simple process of self-declaration." Graph on the right shows 62.1% agree, 21% disagree and 16.9% don't know.

Since this consultation in 2020, we have continued to speak to decision makers about this issue, including at the 2022 Annual Cabinet Meeting with Children and Young People. At this event, an MSYP spoke of the various reasons many young people, and SYP as an organisation support this proposal. These included:  

  • It being a step forward for LGBT Rights. 
  • The negative mental impact the current process has on those who need it.  
  • The importance of giving young people the option at 16 to make this choice as they enter their adult life.   

Read on for an excerpt of this speech which brings young people’s voices to life. We hope their voices continue to be heard as this issue is debated. 

“As a human rights-based organization, SYP believes that Scotland’s young people should be afforded the same rights as young people in other countries – this includes a right to self-declaration and gender recognition for those over the age of 16 years-old.  

[In February 2020, we] spoke with young people from Trans Rights Youth Commission who shared their relief at this bill being brought forward – marking an end to the current process of gender recognition which they described as intrusive and dehumanizing.  

They spoke of the importance of being able to change their gender at the key age of 16 allowing them to enter their adult life in the gender they intend to live as, for the rest of their life.   

They see this bill as a move towards trusting young people to make decisions about their own lives – trusting that they are who they say they are, to not be made to prove that they are transgender, more than anyone else would be asked to prove they are cisgender.   

However, they also spoke of how overdue this reform now feels and the mental toll of the public conversation around their identity.   

We see this bill as a signal of continuation in the progression of LGBT rights in Scotland – as has been the story of the Scottish Parliament so far – and that all transgender men and women and non-binary people will be able to access the right to self-declaration and legal gender recognition.   

Today, we’re asking the Cabinet to respect the views of young people by helping to ensure that the Gender Recognition Reform Bill allows transgender young people to determine their own legal gender at the key age of 16. We believe that this is a fundamental human right, and one that young people should not be excluded from. We look forward to this becoming a legal reality and we hope trans young people’s voices remain at the heart of this going forward.” 

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