Let state snoop­ers help chil­dren change gen­der if their par­ents ob­ject

Pro­posal sparks new row over SNP’s Named Per­son scheme

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Kate Foster Scot­tish Health Edi­tor

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

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