Scotland Finds Consensus On The Need To Change Gender Laws

Scotland is one of the first countries preparing to legally recognize people who don’t adhere to the ridged gender binary of male and female. Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party, has headed the pledge to reform gender laws inside the country to recognize people who are neither female nor male, also known as non-binary. According to Herald Scotland, the changes in the law will allow non-binary people “to change their birth certificate to recognize their gender status and use it on official documents such as passports.”

 The reforms will also allow transgender people… to change their birth certificates without having to seek approval from a tribunal of lawyers and doctors, as at present. 

The proposal also includes giving legal recognition to underage transgender people, allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to be able to change their birth certificates without  requiring their parent’s authorization; parental authorization would still be needed for those under 16. Most importantly, both adults and children will be allowed to legally change their gender without any medical treatment or diagnosis. Sturgeon announced her plans during an electoral debate on equality issues by declaring that:

“Tolerance, respect, inclusion – these are attitudes and principles we want to encourage and foster in modern, fairer Scotland.”

As told by The Telegraph, Sturgeon also stated:

“greater recognition and greater protection” was needed for people who do not identify as a man or a woman. That, I think, has got to be one of the priorities of the next parliament… Enabling young people to make informed choices about their gender and sexual identity is about supporting them to be themselves so that they might fulfill their potential.” 

In fact, the proposal contemplates plans to ensure that all children, since their primary and secondary education, are taught about tolerance to the LGBT community. While the proposal was widely welcomed among the Labour, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Scottish Greens; yet, the Free Church of Scotland strongly opposed and condemned it. Free Kirk moderator, Reverend David Robertson complained

“Not content with the destruction of the traditional Christian ideas of sexuality and marriage, it appears as though the SNP are now seeking to destroy the traditional idea of gender” and warned it would result in “confusion and brokenness amongst our children” 

It is estimated, according to a survey done by Equality Network, that around 300 people inside Scotland see themselves as non-binary gender, although it is believed that the numbers could be much higher (10 times higher), with many still reluctant to be out in the open due to social or religious stigma, bullying, etc. The exact numbers are unknown, The Telegraph claims there are over 10,000 transgender people in the European country.

These reforms will make of Scotland the third European country to recognize people outside the gender binary classification, after Denmark and Malta. Other countries where the non-binary gender is recognized are Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Colombia, India, Ireland, Nepal, New Zealand. How long until the United States joins them?

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