Emergency post: extended GRA consultation deadline

This weekend the Scottish Green Party holds its annual autumn conference, and I was looking forward to going along as a (mostly inactive) member to participate in its democratic decision-making process. But, for me, that has been overshadowed by the UK’s consultation on reform to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA), the deadline for which was last night but has been extended at the last minute to Monday at 12:00. So it seems likely that I will be firefighting this weekend. I will be at the conference, but perhaps only in body at times. My mind and spirit may be elsewhere.

I have written before about reform to the GRA, as the Scottish Government ran its own consultation earlier this year, so I didn’t really want to rehash the arguments for the UK consultation, which is broadly similar. Though the UK government announced its plans to reform the GRA last year, the scheduled public consultation was delayed. As a result of both consultations being spread out across 2018, the last year and more has seen the UK media constantly attacking and gaslighting the trans community, framing our basic human rights as somehow worthy of debate.

I had hoped for a lull this weekend, but the shifted deadline has of course galvanised more anti-trans opinion pieces from the usual suspects, recycling their tired and disingenuous arguments against our very right to exist in free society. It is so, so tiring.

So I was delighted to hear Patrick Harvie, one of the co-convenors of the Scottish Green Party, taking a strong stand this morning against the anti-trans media onslaught, with the strongest applause from the conference floor. I really felt supported by my party. Indeed I felt some of the compassion and love that Maggie Chapman, our other co-convenor, had talked about earlier.

‘We’ve long recognised trans members of our party and our society, respecting their identities on their terms. I want them to know that this party stands with them.’ (Patrick Harvie)

The Rainbow Greens, the party’s LGBTQI+ grouping, had a meeting this afternoon, principally to discuss the ‘trans positivity’ motion being put forward at the conference tomorrow. Patrick Harvie was present, and I had a chance to thank him personally for his support. Everyone at the meeting was in favour of the motion, and I hope the overwhelming support this morning will be reflected in tomorrow’s vote.

But the Scottish Green Party isn’t going to decide our futures – not yet, anyway! If you haven’t yet responded to the current GRA consultation (even if you responded to the Scottish consultation earlier) and you consider yourself a trans ally, please make sure you respond by midday on Monday. There are several guides to responding if you don’t feel you have time to come up with essay-length responses of your own. For me, the key points are:

  • Reduce bureaucracy, medicalisation and cost of legal gender change to a bare minimum. (Remember that this really only affects birth certificates. Passports, driving licences etc. are already changed on a self-ID basis.)
  • End the spousal veto. (Trans people should not have their identities held to ransom by anyone else.)
  • Make sure the process is open to people of all ages. (Children have gender identities too.)
  • Be fully inclusive of non-binary people (who are currently forced to pick a gender that is not theirs when filling in forms).

Remember: whatever your views on access to women-only spaces etc., these are issues covered by other legislation (which already allows self-ID) and are nothing to do with the GRA. Don’t be distracted by people who want you to campaign against GRA reform on the basis of fearmongering, because those people actually want to roll back our existing rights and treat us as a lower caste of human beings.

Thank you for your support! 💜

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