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by Staff reporter
14 December 2021
Majority of Scots against gender 'self-ID' plans

Majority of Scots against gender 'self-ID' plans

A majority of people in Scotland believe that a doctor’s approval should be needed for a person to change their sex in law, according to a new survey.

The poll carried out for policy analysts, Blackburn Hunter Mackenzie, found that most people were supportive of the right of transgender people to express their identity.

It comes as the Scottish Government prepares to bring forward reforms to the laws around gender recognition. 

Currently, to obtain a certificate legally recognising their acquired gender, a trans person requires medical evidence and a two-year period of living as that gender.

However, the new proposals would remove the need for medical assessment, and allow someone to obtain a gender recognition certificate through self-declaration after six months

According to the new survey, 53 per cent of Scots believe that a doctor’s approval should be needed for a person to change their sex in law. 

Just over a quarter of respondents (27 per cent) think that a doctor’s approval should not be needed while a fifth said they did not know.

This was, the pollster said, true across all parties, though there was no data on those who voted for the Scottish Greens.

Voting Scottish Liberal Democrat in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election was “the strongest predictor of support for a doctor approval model for legal sex change.”

The poll, based on a representative population sample of 1,028 Scottish residents, aged 18 years or over, and undertaken by Survation between 18 and 25 November 2021, found that 64 per cent of Scottish adults agree that people should be able to freely express their transgender identity; with only 13 per cent disagreeing.

Responding to the findings, policy analyst Lucy Hunter Blackburn said: “We were greatly encouraged by these findings which show that a majority of Scots are supportive of people being able to express their transgender identity freely. A majority also supported retaining the need for a doctor’s approval to change an individual’s sex in law.
“An unhelpful and polarising aspect of the discussion about GRA [Gender Recognition Act] reform has been the positioning of support for retaining medical approval for individuals seeking a GRC [Gender Recognition Certificate] as ‘anti-trans’. Our poll shows quite clearly that that simply isn’t the case.
“A majority of people in Scotland, across a broad range of characteristics, and often by a large majority, positively agree that people should be able to freely express their transgender identity. Relatively few actively disagree. This generally supportive attitude just doesn’t equate to support for removing all medical involvement for a change of legal status.

“The SNP’s manifesto contained a commitment to reform the GRA, without specifying a fixed outcome. However, the Programme for Government subsequently committed to introducing a self-declaration model, without any medical gatekeeping. This is a significant shift. This was surprising when the issue is so sensitive and given what was already known about levels of public support.
“As we demonstrate here, it also takes the legislation out of a space where GRA reform might be used to build on supportive public attitudes, and moves it into one more likely to stimulate opposition. More generally, our results should give pause for thought to any political party which might be minded to whip its members in support of a Bill based on self-declaration.”

Earlier, this year, Nicola Sturgeon rejected claims changes to the GRA put women and girls at increased risk of harm from predatory men who could take advantage of the lack of any checks to gain access to single-sex spaces like women’s toilets, hospital wards, refuges, hostels and prisons. 

The First Minister told the BBC: “I don't think anybody could accuse me of rushing into this.

“There's been two public consultations. We have listened very carefully. 

“But you know we had a manifesto commitment to move forward with this.

“Gender recognition reform is about changing an existing process to make it less degrading, intrusive and traumatic for one of the most stigmatised minorities in our society and I think that is a good thing to do. 

“It does not change in any way shape or form, legal protections that women have - and that's something that's very important to me as a lifelong feminist.

“We shouldn't forget there are big threats to women's safety and women's rights.

“They come from, sexism, misogyny, principally from abusive and predatory men, and we see lawmakers in other parts of the world, Texas, for example, trying to take away the right of women to control their own bodies.

“So we should focus on the real threats to women, not the threats that, while I appreciate that some of these views are very sincerely held, in my view, are not valid."

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