Labour want to simplify changing gender after Scottish plans blocked

Anneliese Dodds aid she wanted to strip out the 'futile and dehumanising parts' of acquiring a gender recognition certificate <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Anneliese Dodds aid she wanted to strip out the 'futile and dehumanising parts' of acquiring a gender recognition certificate (Image: PA)

LABOUR are planning to make it easier to change gender after Scottish legislation aiming to simplify the process was blocked by the UK Government.

Keir Starmer's party is looking at allowing a single family doctor to sign off on the decision rather than a panel of experts, which does not go as far as Scottish proposals that would have removed doctors from the process entirely.

The Gender Recognition Reform Bill was passed overwhelmingly by MSPs at Holyrood in December 2022 but was subsequently blocked from becoming law by the UK Government via a Section 35 order - a move the Court of Session ruled was lawful last year.

The legislation would have removed the need for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, lowered the age threshold for applications, and reduced the time applicants need to live in their acquired gender before applying for a gender recognition certificate.

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It was ruled the Scottish plans would have interfered with UK-wide equalities legislation.

Labour’s plans would involve ditching the panel of doctors and lawyers that approve gender recognition certificates (GRC) – the document allowing transgender people to have their affirmed gender legally recognised – and only requiring one doctor to be involved in the process.

The Times is reporting that one option under consideration is that the doctor could be a GP, while Labour would also remove the ability of a spouse to object to the change.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said she would be concerned about “shifting sole responsibility for signing gender recognition certificates to GPs”.

She said while the college supported improving care for patients with gender dysphoria “including tackling the long waits they face for treatment and ­services”, she added: “For most GPs, detailed management of gender dysphoria is outside of our area of expertise.”

A source said the party wanted to make the process “less medicalised” but added that the plans would retain the involvement of a doctor and would not allow people to self-identify in order to obtain legal changes.

They said it had not yet been decided whether the medical professional would be a GP or a gender specialist, with the issue likely to go to consultation if the party wins the next election.

Anneliese Dodds, the shadow women and equalities secretary, said she wanted to strip out the “futile and dehumanising parts” of acquiring a gender recognition certificate.

“We believe everyone should be treated with dignity and respect,” she said.

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“We want to see the process for gender recognition modernised, while protecting single sex space for biological women.

“This means stripping out the futile and dehumanising parts of the process for obtaining a gender ­recognition certificate, while retaining important safeguards.”

Kemi Badenoch, the women and equalities minister, said that Labour should “allow professionals to do their job properly”.

To obtain a gender recognition certificate currently someone has to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, have been living in their affirmed gender for two years and intend to live in that ­gender for the rest of their life.

Two medical reports are required, one of them from a specialist, and the application is then considered by a panel.