Campaigners criticise Nicola Sturgeon's gender reform plans

Fears Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to let 16-year-olds legally change their genders will ‘open the floodgates’ to children having irreversible surgery

  • SNP Government looking at allowing people to legally change their gender at 16
  • Campaigners are against the SNP’s Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill
  • They said move could ‘open the floodgates’ to young people requesting surgery 
  • Campaigners have criticised Nicola Sturgeon‘s plan to allow people to change their gender at the age of 16, claiming the move could ‘open the floodgates’ to teenagers requesting irreversible gender reassignment surgery.

    The Scottish Government has said it intends to bring forward the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill within the next year.   

    The draft law would introduce a new and easier system for obtaining legal gender recognition in Scotland and could reduce the age at which someone can apply for a gender recognition certificate from 18 to 16. 

    Statistics obtained by the For Women Scotland campaign group showed there were at least 51 cases over a six year period where trans males under the age of 18 had been approved for double mastectomies. 

    Campaigners have criticised Nicola Sturgeon's plans to allow people to change their gender at the age of 16

    Campaigners have criticised Nicola Sturgeon’s plans to allow people to change their gender at the age of 16

    Those people were referred to NHS hospitals in England for assessment on ‘specialist chest reconstruction’.  

    The campaign group has expressed concerns that lowering the age limit for certificates to 16 could result in more young people requesting surgery which they could later regret.       

    Trina Budge, director of For Women Scotland, told The Telegraph that England and other countries were ‘sensibly rolling back on invasive and non-reversible treatments’ for young trans people. 

    She said it was ‘shocking’ to see Scotland ‘heading in the opposite direction’. 

    ‘No physically healthy child should ever be locked into a pathway of puberty blocking drugs and wrong-sex hormones, leading to the removal of breasts at the age of 16, she said. 

    ‘Lowering the age at which gender can be changed to 16 will inevitably open the floodgates for many more teenagers to request elective surgeries to match their new legal status.’

    A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘Under the oversight of their clinical team a small number of young adults have been referred for chest reconstruction surgery at 17. 

    ‘However, further assessments required prior to surgery mean that, in practice, it is unlikely the procedure would take place before an individual is 18.’   

    The SNP committed to bringing forward its Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill in its new Programme for Government. 

    The document states: ‘While the COVID‑19 pandemic delayed our work to establish a more straightforward system for obtaining legal gender recognition, trans people should not have to go through a degrading, traumatic and intrusive process to be legally recognised in their gender. 

    ‘Within the next year we will bring forward the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, removing the current medical requirements and reducing the time that applicants for gender recognition need to have lived in their acquired gender from two years to three months. 

    ‘The changes will improve the lives of trans people, while ensuring the legislation doesn’t affect the rights and protections that women currently have under the Equality Act.’