GRA Reform Scotland: ‘Delays cause hate speech fueled by misinformation’ says Scottish Young Greens chairman

Ellie Gomersoll, a 22-year-old trans woman, said she expects backlash as the new law is discussed in Holyrood, but insists it is “almost certain” that the reform will be passed by MSP.

In last year’s power-sharing agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Greens, both parties agreed that a bill to reform the Gender Equality Recognition Act (GRA) 2004 would be introduced in the Scottish Parliament in the first year of parliamentary session.

The GRA governs how transgender people can currently achieve legal gender recognition, and the proposed reform of the GRA would make it easier for a person to change their legally recognized gender.

Ellie Gomersol, chairman of the Scottish Young Greens, said delays in Gender Recognition Act reform have sparked “hatred fueled by disinformation” (Photo: Christian Gamauf).

The proposed changes mean that applicants will no longer need to apply to the UK Gender Recognition Commission or present a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

However, despite opposition from groups and bodies including the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the Scottish government has said it is “committed” to making changes to “improve and simplify” the process for trans people to gain legal recognition. .

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Ms Gomersoll, Scottish Chair of the Young Greens, said: “We are part of the government and the Greens have the opportunity to make sure that the government is really clear on the GRA reform agreement.

“There will be backlash and there will be venomous debate, even from the people in parliament, but the bill will almost certainly pass.

“It will take a long time for the amended bill to get through Parliament, but I really hope that by summer we will have a very clear idea of ​​what the new Gender Recognition Act will look like.”

While it is likely that the Bill will be supported by a majority in Holyrood, as the reform is presented to Parliament next month, the Bill has met with fierce opposition.

However, a recent poll by Savanta ComRes showed overall support for simplifying the GRA process in Scotland – 57% in favor and 20% against.

The survey of about 2,000 respondents also showed that young people and women are more supportive of gender reform than older people and men.

The Scottish Conservatives say they “intend to ensure that the legitimate concerns of the Scottish public are taken into account” in the debate over GRA reform.

Megan Gallagher, Scottish Conservative MP, said: “It is important that we work to advance the rights of transgender people, but we cannot allow this to endanger the rights of women and girls.

“Many Scots are concerned about the current proposals and the Equality and Human Rights Commission has raised serious questions about the human rights implications of these reforms.

“The approach of both the SNP and the Green Party to this debate from the beginning was deeply irresponsible, and people with reasonable misgivings felt rejected and looked down upon.

“We need to have a mature conversation about the proposed changes that takes into account all points of view.”

Many of the concerns voiced by the groups relate to the impact the legislation could have on women-only spaces.

However, such spaces will still be protected separately under the Equality Act 2010.

Cheltenham native Ms Gomersall, who moved to Scotland when she was 18 after becoming transgender, said: he has created a toxic environment in which misinformation is so pervasive that many people don’t even know what Bill is doing.

“Just like you saw there was a campaign to legalize same-sex marriage, you’re making progress, and naturally there’s more friction as you get closer to that.

“The pushback is not so noticeable after reforms and changes in legislation.”

However, Ms Gomersoll said the “problem” with GRA is “how many times it has been delayed”.

She said: “This is one of the most consulted pieces of legislation in the history of the Scottish Parliament and as a result we continue to open up the same old arguments and what this has done has opened up space for hateful discussion fueled by disinformation.”

The UK currently has some of the strictest gender recognition processes in Europe.

Countries such as Portugal, Ireland and Norway have passed laws over the past few years that have allowed transgender people to obtain legal recognition of their gender using only self-determination.

Ms Gomersoll said: “If you look at other countries that already have a self-identity, we see that this does not negatively affect all women and advances the feminist movement for all.

“I think people who often speak out against trans rights are sincerely afraid that it will take them back to women’s rights, but the problem is that they are being fueled by a disinformation campaign.”

Ms Gomersall said the GRA is a “pretty small change” that will be important, but said there are other, more important trans issues that need to be addressed: health care for trans people to make it easier to access services.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “The proposals do not introduce any new rights for transgender people or change the single sex exception in the Equality Act.

“Our proposals were set out in a bill published in 2019 and we consulted on that bill as well as the principles of reform in 2017.

“Over the past months, the Minister for Social Justice has met with a number of independent organizations that have requested a meeting about the Gender Recognition Bill, and no group that has requested a meeting has been turned down.

“We value a wide range of views on the Gender Recognition Law and have always strived to find consensus where possible and work to support a respectful debate.”

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