People in Scotland and beyond are being urged to stand up for trans rights before the Gender Recognition Consultation closes.
The Scottish Government’s consultation survey closes at 5pm on Thursday 1st March and can be completed by organisations and individuals, including LGBT allies. Under consideration are changes to allow self-declaration for trans and non-binary people, who are currently subject to humiliating and intrusive psychiatric assessments before a persons birth certificate can be changed.
Also under consideration are calls for the age of legal gender recognition to be lowered from 18 to 16 and for parental consent to be brought in for those under 16. The law could also be changed to legally recognise non-binary people for the first time and bring Scotland’s gender recognition laws up to international best practise. Countries such as Malta, Austria, Norway, Argentina, Switzerland and Germany all have more progressive laws for trans and non-binary people.
Having restrictive and unnecessary invasive protocols in place to legally affirm the gender that an individual already lives day-in, day-out is harmful to thousands of trans and non-binary people across Scotland. For the increasing number of young people who are transitioning, the physical torment can be unbearable, leading to poor mental health, self harm and even suicide (although not exclusively for young people ofcourse).
These issues were discussed openly by one brave young person, Charlie Zambonini, who spoke passionately about her experiences at an event in the Scottish Parliament just this week. She told invited guests at the Equality Network event on Tuesday:
“Being transgender was not a choice for me, growing up I felt quite literally trapped in a skin that wasn’t mine. I would always look at myself and put off facing the fact that I was born in the wrong body.”
“Then, at 13 years of age, I tried to cut myself out of that skin I was born with. I hated myself so much and couldn’t understand the horrific thoughts in my own mind – my only release was the blade of a knife.”
“Everyone asks me about the physical side of transitioning, but no one seems quite so worried about the mental health of trans people. The newspapers talk about medicines being used to stop young people developing, but never seem concerned about the fact that poor mental health of young trans people can be life threatening. My body is one thing, but my mind and soul are another, and they are precious.”
Charlie’s mum, Rosa said:
“As a parent it is deeply distressing to watch your child suffer, with no idea of what tomorrow may bring. Knives, medicines and even scarves had to be locked away in our house as we were told [Charlie] was at high risk of suicide.”
“But when Charlie did eventually ‘come out’ the change in her was quite radical, it was like watching a flower bloom. We were aware she would need a lot of care and attention to be able to flourish.”
“It’s so important that gender is recognised at a young age and this [consultation] is so important – it’s a legal statement of who someone is and offers them a sense of ‘being’ which is so often missing with trans young people. We want equality for everyone.”
Demonstrating her support for Charlie and others who are impacted by the Gender Recognition consultation, Rosa spoke directly to trans and non-binary people, saying:
“You have straight allies and we stand beside you on your journey and we will beat the hate by holding your hand in solidarity – YOU ARE NOT ALONE!”
Charlie finished her speech with an emotional plea to support trans young people everywhere, she said:
“I just want the same rights as everyone else. I want to be accepted, loved and be free to be the person I was born to be. I’m lucky to have a supportive family but many others are not – I hope my story can help other young people and save them from the scars which are all over my body and mind.”
Please take a few minutes to complete the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition consultation survey by clicking on this link. You dont have to be trans, non-binary, lesbian, gay or bisexual. You dont have to live in Scotland – if you support the principles of self-declaration and legal recognition for non-binary people, this is likely to be your last chance to influence Government thinking on this issue for some time.
The consultation survey closes at 5pm on Thursday 1st March 2018.