Have an informed opinion on the Gender Recognition Consultation | Autonomy Scotland

Have an informed opinion on the Gender Recognition Consultation


There is currently a Scottish Government review looking at changing the process of applying for legal recognition of the gender with which a person identifies.

There was a bit of an online stooshie about it last week after Wings Over Scotland published an article on the subject.

The article argues, based on polling evidence, that the Scottish public is strongly against the proposed changes.

Personally, to go off tangent for a bit, I’m not sure if public opinion is overly relevant when judging a policy.

The same article also berates the Scottish Parliament for repealing the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act(OFBA) because it is a popular policy. Thing is, we live in a parliamentary democracy and the job of our parliamentarians is to have the time, ability and expertise to make decisions on complex issues on our behalf. OFBA may well be popular but it is soon to be repealed because it is illiberal and unworkable. As we have argued before it is a dangerous law that clashes with key pillars of a civil society.

I think the politicians are correct to ditch it but if you don’t agree then vote against them next time. That’s how democracy works. It would be chaos if all politicians did was enact laws that were popular.

Still, public opinion should be taken into account at some level.

However, in order to do that you first have to find out what that public opinion actually is. In the case of Gender Recognition Act, this hasn’t been achieved as the polling question used to justify the claim that the public are against it is highly leading.

The first part of the question omits some key parts of the proposals which might alter a respondent’s opinion on the matter.

Really, the new proposals are the streamlining of an already existing process to fit best international practice. Moving from a ponderous medicalised model to a simplified self-declaration model.

The system some people are getting all hot under the collar about is already being used in Norway, Denmark, Malta, Colombia, Argentina, and the Republic of Ireland. Hardly bastions of immorality.

The proposals will not make it as simple as a person just filling in an online-form and hey presto, that’s you a different sex under the law.

Applicants need to provide a statutory declaration that they:

  • are applying of their own free will;
  • understand the consequences of obtaining legal gender recognition; and
  • intend to live in their acquired gender until death.

This declaration needs to be witnessed by a person authorised to administer oaths.

According to the research paper.

The Scottish Government’s research into countries using self-declaration systems of legal gender recognition has not identified evidence of false or frivolous statements being made by applicants. However, under the proposed self-declaration system for legal gender recognition, if an applicant were to make a statement in a statutory declaration that is false in a material particular, this would be an offence.

So, the actual change still involves a serious legal commitment that the vast majority of people will not enter into lightly.

If trying to design a fair polling question, then comparing the old and the new systems accurately would seem only fair. In my view, this poll fails to do so.

However, it is worse than that. This polling question then goes on to speculate about the abolition of all single-sex public spaces and making it a hate crime to disagree with someone based on which sex they were.

I can’t see any mention of these two changes in the legislation and adding them to the polling question is obviously going to skew the results one way.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there should be a healthy public debate on these and other controversial issues.

I don’t like it when opinions are shut down because they are not politically correct or happen to be challenging. A mature society should be able to respectfully discuss any issue regardless of how dark, uncomfortable or potentially offensive the discussion gets. I’ve supported the right of people to express dubious opinions several times on these pages.

Still, part of a mature discussion means basing opinions on solid evidence and this polling falls far short of that in my assessment.

I’m all for a public debate on the issue which is exactly what the current consultation process is all about. If you feel strongly about the law then get involved. Start by reading the publication.

But let’s face it, this law change will have zero impact on the vast majority of us.

While it raises ethical issues, most of the criticism I see of the new proposals seem to take the form of an ungrounded moral panic.  People worried that if you make it easier for folk to change the sex on their passport then this will lead to hoards of male abusers lurking in female public toilets. This seems overblown. If anyone wants to access public toilets for nefarious purposes then there are easier ways to do so than going through the proposed legal processes. Just open the toilet door, they are seldom locked. Stick on appropriate clothing if you want to blend in.

Sure, no doubt some will try to abuse the law, but let’s not pretend they won’t be an insignificant minority.

Others, no doubt will use the law with good intentions but come to regret they ever did.

Still, the majority of people will just be taking advantage of a less bureaucratic system. The vast majority won’t be doing so flippantly. They will still be making a big legal commitment that for many will have come after years of hardship and contemplation. Their decision to do so will be a personal one and is unlikely to have any serious impact on the rest of us.

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GrogipherautonomyscotlandRevStuautonomyscotlandYesWomen Recent comment authors

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RevStu
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RevStu

Sigh. The question is NOT leading. When you commission a poll and send in your draft questions, the polling company will tell you if they think a question is leading. (That doesn’t mean they’ll refuse to run it, but they want you to know just in case you did it by accident.) Panelbase did NOT consider the question to be leading. It outlines the main positive and negative points of the proposal, which is necessary when most people know very little about the review. You appear to have wanted the poll to ask a question 2,000 words long, when it… Read more »

autonomyscotland
Admin

Cheers for your response.

I may be wrong here but for the life of me I can’t see where the proposals say that they are going to outlaw single-sex spaces. Or where there is a proposal to alter existing hate crime laws. Given that these parts of the question seem speculative.

Wish I could afford my own polls. Glad someone in the movement can. On the whole the whole they are very useful.

RevStu
Guest
RevStu

Don’t be stupid. You sound like those Old Firm fans who say the OBFA is nothing to do with sectarianism because the word “sectarian” isn’t in the actual wording of the Act. How can you have a single-sex space if anyone can just say they’re any sex? If you make “gender identity” a protected characteristic then any criticism of someone over their gender identity becomes a hate crime, because that’s what “protected characteristic” means.

autonomyscotland
Admin

With regards to OBFA, I’m against it because I don’t like criminalising offence, because offence is by its very nature subjective. I may very well be stupid but many people who agree with me such as Andrew Tickle and Tom Divine are towards the brainy side of the independence movement. As someone who is constantly in trouble for causing offence I would have thought you might have some sympathy with getting rid of a law which makes it easier for the authorities to prosecute such actions. I said in my argument that there will be a tiny minority of people… Read more »

RevStu
Guest
RevStu

“I said in my argument that there will be a tiny minority of people who may use the law to abuse single-sex spaces but that this won’t be a major issue.”

I look forward to you explaining that to the victims. “Okay, you got raped in a place you had a reasonable expectation of safety, but it’s not a major issue.”

http://transcrimeuk.com/

autonomyscotland
Admin

If someone was to be raped, and that rape was partially facilitated by a change of this law, it would be a major issue for that particular victim, but whether it would be a major issue for society as a whole would depend on the frequency of such events. If this law was to lead to a significant spike in such crimes in single-sex spaces then I would be the first person to say we need to take a look at the law. However, the idea the law will lead to such an increase seems to me to be a… Read more »

RevStu
Guest
RevStu

Every piece of available evidence, as well as basic common sense, suggests that if you make it effectively impossible to keep men – or to avoid controversy, “penis-owning individuals” – out of single-sex spaces then it will increase the frequency of such crimes. Indeed, it’s very difficult to see how it could possibly not do so.

autonomyscotland
Admin

The question becomes how much will the frequency of those crimes change? If you can prove to me there will be a significant change then that is a major issue. I don’t think there will be. I have no problem with such issues, and the opinions of people who are worried about such issues, being taken into account in the current consultation.

Alex Monaghan
Guest
Alex Monaghan

Surely the point here is that it should not matter what your actual, perceived, or desired gender is. Until we get to that point, everything else is window dressing. And as for unworkable, gender legislation seems a pretty clear example: are we going to carry passports to use the loo, or to get in the lifeboats on SS Brexitanic?

autonomyscotland
Admin

I certainly agree with your first point. Not sure about your second one. I don’t think this legislation will make the slightest bit of difference to what you need to carry when going to the loo.

YesWomen
Guest
YesWomen

“this law change will have zero impact on the vast majority of us.” That’s where you are mistaken. The proposed law changes will affect the Equality Act 2010 which currently affords protection to women and girls on the grounds of Sex. The law allows individuals to reassign their Gender but it also decrees them the ability to br recognised as the opposite sex. This is in conflict with the Equality Act. Women and girls need protection on the basis of their sex, not their gender. This conflation of definitions allows males who identify as women to access same sex safe… Read more »

autonomyscotland
Admin

Hi, I am happy for you to engage and put your point across which is exactly what the consultation is all about. I understand the principle behind what you are saying and I understand how the law could hypothetically be abused. What I don’t see is the jump from that to there then being a significant number of cases of it being abused. I would say the type of person who would consider changing gender solely to access spaces to abuse women, is already engaging in such behaviour. If you want to engage in such behaviour I would argue that… Read more »

RevStu
Guest
RevStu

If you want evidence, I suggest taking a look at http://transcrimeuk.com/.

autonomyscotland
Admin

All I’m getting from that link is that some trans folk commit crimes. Just like some indy supporters, some refugees, some one-legged gingers and some politicians commit crimes.

RevStu
Guest
RevStu

Then I suspect you’ve only looked at the thumbnails and not actually read any of it, because you’ve missed the point by an awfully big distance.

autonomyscotland
Admin

I clicked on a few of the thumbnails and found evidence of crimes committed by trans people. I have no doubt they commit crimes. The website reminded me of those collages of hysterical Daily Mail headlines about asylum seekers.

The evidence I need to see to change my mind is evidence that this law is going to lead to a significant increase in crimes committed by trans people.

RevStu
Guest
RevStu

You want evidence from the future? That’s quite a high level of proof, but I’ll see what Marty McFly can do.

autonomyscotland
Admin

No need to bother Marty, there are several developed countries already implementing the policy.

Grogipher
Guest
Grogipher

You don’t need a GRC to access those spaces now, and there’s no suggestion that people will be required to carry their birth certificate around with them.

It’s already possible to get a passport and the like without a GRC.

Making it easier to get a GRC literally changes nothing that you mention.

The gist of your argument is that we shouldn’t make things better for trans people because some cis people are bastards. That’s a ridiculous argument.

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