Supporters of gender recognition reform stage demo as MSPs debate legislation

Supporters of gender recognition reform held a demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament before MSPs began debating legislation on the issue.

The protest – organised by Scottish Trans, part of the Equality Network – urged MSPs to back the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill going through Parliament.

However a small number of opposing protesters, some of whom were from the Scottish Family Party, held their own demonstration on the grounds outside the building.

They held up signs saying “A man can’t become a woman. Simple”, which supporters of the Bill sought to cover up with their own signs and flags.

Mat Wilkie, a volunteer with Scottish Trans, told the PA news agency: “It’s really exciting that this Bill is here in Parliament today, it’s something we have been working on for a while.

“It’s going to be absolutely wonderful when we get this Bill passed.

“When the Bill has been being developed, there’s been quite a lot of anger towards trans people like me.

“There’s been a lot of transphobia and a lot of people who are sort of bullying the community – it’s felt a little like a schoolyard at times with people calling us names or spreading lies about us.

“And that’s been quite hard at times to cope with.”

He said he intends to get a gender recognition certificate when the law is passed, as he feels the current process is cumbersome and intrusive.

He added: “I’ve got a fiance and when I finally set a date to get married it means that when I turn up on my wedding day I won’t have a birth certificate that says I’m female and I won’t need to worry about that.”

Green MSP Maggie Chapman, a supporter of the Bill, said the legislation is a small but “crucial” step on the road to trans equality.

After the Bill is passed, she argued, other changes should be made around legal recognition for non-binary people.

She said: “This Bill still retains the gender binary in law and we know that’s not the experience of people’s lived lives.

“So non-binary legal recognition is really, really important.

“Trans people have always been with us, they always will be with us, this is an administrative process that means people’s identity documents reflect who they are. That’s it.”