ON Tuesday, I joined over 200 people at the Equality Network’s Parliamentary Reception for LGBT History Month. We celebrated the organisation’s role in repealing Section 28 so that teachers were no longer banned from supporting LGBT young people, gaining LGBT hate crime law and achieving equal marriage. The Equality Network has fought for transgender equality along with lesbian, gay and bisexual equality for the whole of its 21 years of existence.

People of all ages, sexual orientations and gender identities were present for the warm atmosphere of solidarity, hope and love. People’s bodies under their clothes were nobody else’s business – what mattered was our shared humanity and dignity. Part of that dignity was simply the common decency of respecting everyone’s names, pronouns and relationships. Working for an organisation that promotes these values of equality and inclusion is one of the most rewarding parts of my life.

There was rainbow cake and moving speeches. A trans woman spoke of her decades of work in Scotland’s Violence Against Women sector, where she campaigns against the tax credit “rape clause”, against forced marriages, for an end to sexual violence and for many other vital women’s rights. She highlighted how the current Gender Recognition Act places a patriarchal, faceless tribunal panel in the role of controlling trans people’s access to the human right of privacy about their gender history.

We were inspired by a 15-year-old trans girl who spoke of the years of distress and self-harm she endured struggling with her gender identity before plucking up the courage to tell her mum and accessing support from Scotland’s NHS young people’s gender identity service.

She would love to have a birth certificate reflecting that she now lives in society as a happy and confident teenage girl.

A non-binary person spoke of their initial attempt to transition from male to female and finding that neither of those two labels fit their sense of self. That once they realised they could create a middle-ground space for themselves in society, they found the comfort and confidence that had eluded them for so long. Yet, their legal documents still don’t reflect this.

I’m one of the “trans activists” trying to reform the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier for trans people to change the gender on their birth certificates. I’m also a parent, a retired prison officer, and so many other things. Watching these people speak about their lives and the challenges they live with every day reminded me that the work I do is not only for me.

It is unfair to portray gender recognition reforms as unreasonable and harmful. In fact reform would just bring birth certificates into line with how trans people already change their passports, driving licences and other ID at the start of their transition.

Think about the last time you showed anyone your birth certificate compared to when you show your passport, driving licence or bank cards. Why should trans people have to jump through more hoops to change their birth certificate than to change their other ID?

I appreciate why some people worry about how trans people’s rights intersect with women’s rights. I am trans and a woman, so these both deeply affect my life. Gender is not just an aspect of identity; it is a complex social construct with a damaging hierarchy and much of the discrimination and harassment women suffer derives from society’s perceptions of their biological sex characteristics. One of the biggest things we are fighting to reform is the current focus on how well trans people conform to gender stereotypes. We know that the toys we played with as children aren’t what makes us our gender. We’ve been saying that for years.

Trans rights and women’s rights can progress together and the Scottish Trans Alliance has been working in partnership with feminist organisations for many years to ensure that.

The Gender Recognition Act will continue to have exemptions enabling biological sex characteristics to be taken into account where required. Sports bodies will continue to be able to set their own transgender rules in order to ensure safe and fair competition. Exemptions exist so gender recognition doesn’t affect sexual offence prosecutions and so previous name and gender can be shared to prevent and investigate crime.

Twenty years of working on the front lines as a prison officer taught me how challenging they are. Prisons do careful risk assessments of trans prisoners to keep everyone safe. They can hold people who are legally female in the male estate if required. I work closely with the Scottish Prison Service to support them to manage even the most complex of trans prisoners with dignity and safety for all.

Single-sex service providers will still be able to treat trans people differently where necessary. Although, as our speaker pointed out, rape crisis services in Scotland have been successfully inclusive of trans workers and service users for many years.

What would reform of the Gender Recognition Act achieve? It could save trans people from being outed by their birth certificates not matching the gender they live in. It could save trans people from pension, civil partnership and insurance errors. It could make the lives of trans people a little easier.

I know Scotland can show reform can be done constructively and collaboratively for the good of everyone.

Becky Kaufmann is justice policy officer at the Scottish Trans Alliance