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Self-ID in the U.K.

When Liz Truss threw out plans to reform the GRA in September 2020, some MPs like Crispin Blunt called it a “crushing disappointment” while Amnesty International claimed that it sent “a chilling message that the UK is a hostile place for trans people”. The rest of us, however, breathed a sigh of relief.

Self ID In The UK

It seems, though, that plans for self-ID in the UK may yet be implemented, so it’s important that we remain focused. As Fair play For Women report, the Scottish Government is planning to allow anyone over the age of 16 who was either born in Scotland or is living in Scotland to change their legal sex in as little as 6 months, without the need for any evidence or a medical diagnosis. Their consultation document details the proposals.

Setting the age at which a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) may be issued to 16 is particularly troubling when combined with the “simplification” proposed. In the UK, as elsewhere in the world, we increasingly recognise that young people do not have the ability to make life altering decisions at such a young age – it was the basis of Keira Bell’s case against the Tavistock that she wasn’t sufficiently mature to understand the implication of what she was consenting to.

Recent legal changes requiring young people to stay in full time education, training or apprenticeships until they are 18 years old faced little opposition, and in just the last week the Bill that made it illegal to be married below the age of 18 in England and Wales received Royal Assent without a murmur. This raising of the minimum age is a safeguarding measure that has been welcomed because we understand that teenagers often make decisions that are not in their best interests and they are vulnerable to manipulation and coercion.

Lowering the age for a GRC to be issued combined with a reduced time spent “living in the acquired gender” and elimination of the need to have a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria (which is part of the move to de-medicalise transition) amounts to the removal of existing safeguards. Safeguards intended to protect young people from a course of action that might not be in their best interest and to protect women from men who would abuse self-declaration to gain access to women and children.

The Scottish Government’s consultation document recognises in chapter 5 that women are vulnerable to male violence and sexual abuse. It even tacitly recognises the danger that men will abuse self-ID:

5.06. The Cabinet Secretary said in her Parliamentary statement that concerns about the impact GRA reform would have on women were not, at their core, concerns about trans women. “Rather they are about men who seek to abuse women. The fear is that some men will misuse trans equality to access women and do us harm. I understand that. I understand that predatory men will always seek to find ways to harm women. That’s not a new problem in Scottish or global society – nor is it a problem created by, or the fault of, trans people.”

Nowhere, though, does the consultation explain how this is to be addressed or even acknowledge that abandoning all safeguarding will create a loophole so large that it will be visible from space. Assurances that the Scottish Government considers violence against women and girls to be A Very Bad Thing are unlikely to be of any practical use.

Talks are already taking place with lobby groups, but they require agreement from the UK Government for a GRC issued in Scotland to be valid anywhere in the UK.

We know about the Denton’s playbook now thanks to James Kirkup and others – how they tag controversial reforms to popular reforms, keep the intent under wraps and embrace “no debate” to push through changes. This UK-wide change will likely be framed up as “Scotland only” and there will probably be claims that the Westminster Government is subverting the will of the Scottish people if objections are raised, but this is misdirection. The Scottish Government is not accountable to Welsh, Northern Ireland or English voters, despite the clear impact this change would have outside of Scotland.

It is vital, therefore, to let the Governments of the UK and Northern Ireland know if you do not support this change.

There is considerable movement of people within the UK, and in particular between Scotland and England. Those who think it a “straw man” argument to suggest that teenagers would flee north to escape the safeguards of English law if GRA regulations are relaxed in Scotland would do well to consider the lure of Gretna Green as a wedding venue even today. Young people born in Scotland but living elsewhere in the UK might not even need to travel, and those not born in Scotland but studying at a Scottish university would be beyond the protection of English law.

Fair Play For Women shares examples of ways in which this will be harmful for women and children.

Please act today and make your voice heard. You can be sure the lobby groups have been doing so for some time.

Email Liz Truss as Minister for Women and Equalities at and let her know your concerns.

Email Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Minister at Make sure he understands that children in English schools could be affected by this change.

Meet with or write to your MP. Ask your MP to lobby UK Ministers to refuse cross-border recognition of GRCs issued in Scotland based on self-ID.

You have until 16th May to complete the Scottish Government’s survey on their GRA reform proposals. Follow the link at the bottom of the Fair Play For Women web page, or go straight there.


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