The Scottish government will consider reducing the age for legally changing gender to 16 – and possibly even lower.
Under new proposals, transgender people will also no longer be asked to provide medical proof that they deserve recognition for their new legal gender.
This means that trans citizens would no longer have to live for two years in a body which matches their true gender to be officially identified as that gender.
The Scottish government’s announcement comes just days after Nicola Sturgeon “wholeheartedly apologised” for historical gay sex convictions in the country, leading an onlooker who was prosecuted for being gay to break down.
The government’s public review of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act will also suggest legal recognition for non-binary people, such as a gender-neutral passport option.
Scottish National Party Equalities Minister Angela Constance said the move would help her country to further advance LGBT rights.
She said: “Scotland rightly has a reputation as one of the most progressive countries in relation to LGBTI legal and human rights equality in Europe – but we need to do more to progress equality for trans people,” the BBC has reported.
“Both our Fairer Scotland action plan and this year’s programme for government commit to renewing the 2004 Gender Recognition Act.
“This act was once considered ahead of its time but it now needs updating so we can ensure we are creating a fairer Scotland for those who are transgender and non-binary,” she added.
LGBT campaigners welcomed the move to change a legal process which Scottish Trans Manager James Morton called “humiliating, offensive and expensive,” adding that it required “intrusive psychiatric evidence”.
Morton continued: “Being able to change the gender on their birth certificate to match their other identity documents is important primarily to uphold trans people’s privacy and dignity but also to ensure that their pensions, insurance policies, civil partnerships and marriages are all administered correctly.
“We urge the Scottish government to also provide legal gender recognition for non-binary trans people so that all trans people can have equal inclusion and acceptance within Scottish society.”
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Stonewall Scotland director Colin Macfarlane said the review was a “desperately needed” step which would help fight transphobic hate.
He added that “it’s time to move the legislation on from being a long, complicated, bureaucratic process which treats being trans as a mental illness.
“We believe a better Gender Recognition Act is a crucial next step in achieving equality for all trans people and will help reduce the discrimination and abuse that is all too prevalent in our society.”
Macfarlane sounded a clarion call to the Scottish public, saying that “we need everyone’s support to help make Scotland a better place for trans people.
“If you believe in equality, then we need you to come out for trans people and help make these proposals a reality by responding to the consultation.”
The High Court of England and Wales announced last month that it would hold a full judicial review over the UK government’s refusal to allow ‘Gender X’ passports.
The decision came after a challenge from non-gendered campaigner Christie Elan-Cane, and following Stonewall’s call earlier this year for an X option to be added to passports.
The SNP, which has the most seats in the country’s Parliament, has previously pledged to put pressure on the UK government to reform the Gender Recognition Act.
In July, days after Jeremy Corbyn called for a review of the Gender Recognition Act at the PinkNews Summer Parliamentary reception, the government announced proposals to streamline and de-medicalise the process for changing gender.