Trans people with Scottish gender certificate may need UK document

Controversial Scottish gender certificate ruling falls at the border – as transgender people set to still need UK document to be recognised elsewhere

  • Scotland approved law to make it easier from trans people to change gender
  • People in Scotland only need to live in chosen gender for three months for 
  • Government considering not accepting Scottish gender recognition certificate
  • They would instead require the existing UK gender recognition certificate

Transgender people in Scotland may need to apply for a UK gender recognition certificate if they wish to be recognised in England and Wales.

A controversial new law passed by the Scottish Parliament states that people will no longer need a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order to legally change their gender and be given a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

It will also lower the minimum age for applicants from 18 to 16 and drop the time required for an applicant to live in their acquired gender from two years to three months, although with a subsequent, three-month reflection period.

But UK government sources told The Times that if a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria is not required then Scotland would no longer be recognised by the rest of the UK as having a rigorous process for changing gender.

A consequence of this would mean that people issued with a Scottish GRC would also have to apply for a UK certificate for it to be recognised south of the border.

The UK government may remove Scotland from a list of countries whose gender certificates are automatically recognised, forcing transgender people to apply for a UK version

A government source said the UK may no longer recognise Scotland’s GRC if they continue to not require a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order to legally change their gender

The UK government currently has a list of countries whose GRCs meet sufficient checks and balances for people who want to change their legal gender.

Certificates from countries on the list are automatically recognised in the UK, but those not on the list have to apply for a UK certificate.

Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch launched a review to ‘update the list’ following the Scottish parliament passing the gender bill last month.

A UK government source told The Times: ‘This is just a procedural change and it was envisaged in the 2004 act. It is not a new measure, it was done in 2011 and we are updating it for 2023.

‘We are not discriminating against people from foreign countries with GRCs. If they arrive in this country with one from a country that has a less rigorous system than the UK, we’re saying you should apply for a UK GRC, which is readily available.’

 In 2011 Montenegro and Latvia were removed from the list of approved countries.

It follows fears of ‘gender tourism’ to Scotland from other parts of the UK where the law has not been changed.

It has been suggested a male-born transgender woman could travel to Scotland to have their gender legally changed, then use their new official status to access female-only spaces in other nations.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has not ruled out the UK Government trying to prevent the bill passing into law

It is believed that the legislation could make intimate same-sex care more difficult to guarantee, as there could be an increase in the number of health workers who have changed their gender.

In single sex schools, where polices on gender are decided independently, there are fears that they will be pressured to amend their admission rules. The age clause of the legislation, allowing people to change gender from 16 to 18, means that more sixth formers could legally change their gender and request a place at a single sex school.

Government sources have previously told The Times they feared the new law could be used to allow biologically male Scottish prisoners in English jails to demand to be placed in women’s prisons.

The Government may now be gearing up to block the legislation from being enshrined into law.

Under the Scotland Act, the UK Government can challenge devolved legislation if it feels it impacts on national security or reserved matters. 

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