Equal Recognition statement by Forth Valley Rape Crisis Centre

Forth Valley Rape Crisis CentreOn International Human Rights Day Forth Valley Rape Crisis would like to express our full support of all of the proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act and encourage all those committed to the advancement of human rights to respond to the on-going Equal Recognition consultation.

As a movement, Rape Crisis have always fought against the rigid gender stereotyping that each of us experience, which is rooted in patriarchal notions of gender as binary. Alternatively, we advocate that everyone should be able to express themselves in the way in which feels reflective of their individual identity and not that which is ascribed to us by society.

As a feminist organisation working to eradicate sexual violence it is essential to oppose the abuse of power over people of marginalised gender identity at both an individual and institutional level. The current process of legally changing gender targets trans people and their right to autonomy over their own lives, identity and bodies. It makes medical diagnosis a necessary requirement and in doing so affords power to state institutions and professionals within the private and personal lives of trans people.

By requiring a psychiatric report which states they have been diagnosed as having gender dysphoria, the state is pathologising trans people and violates their right to privacy and self-determination. There is still significant stigma of trans identities within our society and, as a result, there are many barriers trans people face in being open about their identities. This process forces people to give up their relative rights in order to gain legal recognition of their identity, a process which makes you consider the reality for those who do not gain this through the current system.

The current process of legally changing gender requires trans people to be ‘living’ in their ‘acquired gender’ for a period of two years prior and to provide evidence of this. The two year period that requires trans people to live in their acquired gender while legally recognising them otherwise invites situations where they are forced to be out and as a result, exposed to an increased risk of sexual violence often in the form of ‘hate crime’. Hate crime perpetrated against trans people consistently takes the form of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Forth Valley Rape Crisis are hopeful the legislation will be reformed and believe that the rights and safety of trans people will be greatly improved and as a result.