Libby Brooks, the Guardian’s Scotland correspondent, has written a great article about what the Scottish Government and Westminster can learn from Ireland’s successful implementation of legal gender recognition based on self-declaration.
Senator Kevin Humphreys guided the Irish gender recognition legislation through when he became minister of state for social protection in 2014. His advice to politicians in Holyrood and Westminster is simple:
I’d say to them to actually go out and make contact with trans people. One thing I learned was that this is a matter of equality and should be done in full consultation with the trans community.
While political consultation is key, according to James Morton, manager of the Scottish Trans Alliance, another feature propelling reform in Scotland has been the close collaboration between feminist and transgender activists. This has been far less apparent in the debate around Westminster reform.
In Scotland there’s really strong communication between women’s equality organisations, trans equality organisations, politicians and civil servants. Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland have become trans-inclusive without any problems occurring, demonstrating that improving trans equality is fully compatible with improving women’s equality, and avoided misunderstandings about legal reform.
England’s equality sector is more fragmented, Morton suggests, and it is harder to communicate with politicians in Westminster.
Sadly, this can create fears and myths about trans equality but constructive discussions are making positive progress. As people look into the facts and speak in depth with trans people, they start to appreciate the need to improve trans equality.