Trans people in Scotland just want to be counted equally in the census – Vic Valentine


Trans rights activists demonstrate in Edinburgh in September last year (photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

That this requires guidance may seem strange, surely a question couldn’t be simpler than that? Well, for some trans men and trans women, considering how to respond can be a bit more complicated.

Most trans people, after a great deal of thought, make changes in our lives so that we can be happy as ourselves. We go out to friends and family. We change our names and gender on identification such as our passports and driver’s licenses.

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We started using services that conform to our identities, rather than our sex recorded at birth. This is so that we can live our lives as who we really are. Hopefully, we are treated with acceptance and warmth when we come out, and many of us are.

But sometimes we can face barriers; Family members may not respect our identities, saying they still see us as the boy or girl we were born as.

We can approach services that say they don’t know enough about trans people, and reject US support. And we may find it difficult to update some of our identification, particularly our birth certificates.

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The process to change them continues to be harrowing and difficult, requiring a psychiatric diagnosis, extensive medical testing, and a period of at least two years since we have taken other steps to begin living as ourselves before we can apply.

Because of these experiences, when some trans people are asked “What is your gender?” we want the security we can answer in a way that accurately describes who we are now, not who we were expected to be at birth.

NRS plans should provide that reassurance to trans men and trans women with its guidance for the census’ sex question, which says your answer can reflect how you live, and doesn’t need to be the same as the sex on your birth certificate. .

The same guidance was used for the 2011 census. The group taking the court case wants guidance changed to insisting people must respond with the sex on their birth certificate.

This would be a serious step for trans equality in Scotland. It would mean that trans men and trans women who have not yet changed the sex on their birth certificate could feel compelled, under threat of criminal penalty, to give a response that fundamentally undermines how they live their lives. That completely contradicts the way they are viewed by their loved ones, use the services, and record in their passport, driver’s license, and medical records.

The census says it “must ensure that all citizens are represented, and reflect how they live in Scottish society”.

The NRS planned guidance has been extensively tested, with the general public and trans people. It works, it’s been used before, and it means we really get a picture of what Scotland is like in 2022.

If this case were successful, it would send a very damaging message: that trans men and trans women should not be counted the same as everyone else.

Vic Valentine is manager of Scottish Trans

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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