Let state snoopers help children change gender if their parents object
Proposal sparks new row over SNP’s Named Person scheme
STATE snoopers should be allowed to help children legally change their gender if parents are at odds over the issue, Scottish councils have proposed.
In what critics see as the latest attack on parents’ rights, several councils have said the Named Person scheme could be used to let transgender children change the sex on their birth certificate if their families object.
The proposals were included in a consultation document published last week.
The Scottish Government wants to make it easier for transgender people to legally change their gender, by introducing a system of self-identification instead of the current strict checks.
The proposals also include reducing the minimum age at which someone can legally change gender from 18 to 16. But ministers also sought opinions on ‘options’ for under-16s amid growing numbers of children seeking help for gender dysphoria.
In response, a number of organisations agreed that children aged under 16 should be able to legally change their gender.
They include four local councils that suggested the SNP’s Named Person could step in to ‘provide consent’ if parents object.
But critics have warned that youngsters should not be allowed to make life-changing decisions at such an early age.
A statement from Aberdeen City Council said: ‘A small but increasing number of trans young people under 16 in Scotland are able to be open about their gender identity and live happy, healthy lives with the support of their parents, families and peers.
‘With their parents’ consent they can already change their gender on their medical records and passport but under the current system the gender on their birth certificate remains unchanged.
‘There remains a vulnerable group who do not enjoy parental support for any change.
‘Perhaps it would be considered appropriate for the Named Person or lead professional to provide consent if transition is seen to be in the best interests of the child.’
The suggestion of using the Named Person is echoed in responses by the City of Edinburgh Council, Stirling Council and Orkney Islands Council. It is thought that most children under 16 who want to change their gender would have some form of parental support which would enable them to go through the formal process of self-identification in the same way as adults.
Children whose parents do not support the move, as well as those
‘Vulnerable to peer pressure’
in care, could apply through the courts and the Named Person would give them support and guidance through that process.
The Scottish Government move has been backed by dozens of organisations, including local councils, university student groups, and some women’s groups, saying it will make it fairer and easier for transgender people to live in their preferred manner.
But others have hit out, warning it could put women’s privacy and dignity at risk in changing rooms or when they are receiving medical care, if they come into contact with people who are ‘self-declaring’ as the opposite sex without undergoing medical treatment.
The SNP had initially planned to introduce Named Person in 2016, but ministers were forced to rethink key elements after the Supreme Court ruled it breached children’s rights to privacy.
Earlier this year it emerged that Education Secretary John Swinney is planning to press ahead with the plans and is examining proposals which could see a diluted version of the scheme.
A spokesman for the NO2NP (No to Named Persons) group said: ‘It is preposterous to suggest the detested Named Person scheme be used to ride roughshod over the views of mums and dads.’
A submission from Christian Concern states: ‘The Scottish Government is to be rebuked for even proposing gender recognition for children under 16. Late adolescence is a time when many are still vulnerable to the power of suggestion and to peer pressure.’
Shirley-Anne Somerville, the Cabinet Secretary responsible for equality and human rights, said: ‘We have been clear on our commitment to progressing equality for trans people.’
Reviewing scheme: John Swinney