THE leader of the Irish senate has insisted the idea women would be more under threat from male violence if reforms to gender recognition legislation were passed is “fanciful”.

Senator Regina Doherty, leader of Seanad Éireann and leader of Fine Gael in the Seanad, was giving evidence on the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill on Wednesday.

It proposes to remove the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria for the obtaining of a gender recognition certificate (GRC), while the legislation would also lower the minimum age for a GRC from 18 to 16 and the waiting period from two years to three months, with an additional three-month reflection period.

The Oireachtas the parliament of Ireland – passed its Gender Recognition Act in 2015 which permits an Irish citizen to correct their gender on government documents through self-determination.

The law does not require any medical intervention by the applicant nor an assessment by the state, and such corrections are possible through self-determination for any person aged 18 or over. People aged 16 to 18 years must still secure a court order to exempt them from the normal requirement to be at least 18.

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One of the top concerns about the Scotland bill is how it could impact women’s ability to access single sex spaces.

Doherty was questioned by Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy about what she thought of this, and she insisted the idea women would be any more at risk from male violence from the passing of the bill was a “false misnomer”.

She told the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee: “You might find this hard to believe, we didn’t have that [negativity] in 2015.

“All women have safety issues with regard to male violence.

“The notion that women now have to fear a man dressing up as a woman and getting a gender identity certificate so he can threaten me in a dressing room to me is fanciful when you recognise that in the Irish state women have issues [anyway] with regards to safety because of male violence.

“I don’t think a man who wants to be violent to a woman needs to go to the extent of changing his gender so he can get access to me in the dressing room. I think it’s a false misnomer."

It comes after a human rights body said earlier this week it has identified no “real and concrete” concerns over the proposals.

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Barbara Bolton, the head of legal and policy at the Scottish Human Rights Commission, said “the majority, if not all of the concerns that have been outlined, do not appear to have a relationship with the proposals that are set out in this bill".

Transgender people, Bolton said, would not be asked for their birth certificate or a GRC before accessing single sex spaces.

Doherty went on to say she didn’t believe women needed to feel diminished by the implications of Bill.

She said: “I don’t believe that women need to feel diminished just because there are other genders.

“I do think we need to have a proper conversation with some women who might think being a female is a really important job and it shouldn’t be downgraded, but it’s not being downgraded. “Generations ago there were two genders and two sexes, there are still two sexes but I think there are about nine genders, that doesn’t diminish any other gender within the gender identity set.

“It doesn’t make women more or less at risk than they are today. It certainly doesn’t’ protect them by saying a trans female can’t access the same spaces as other women.

“If we believe today that men were going to go to the extent of dressing up as women, and changing their gender to get access to be violent to other women, then I think we have an even far greater problem than the male violence that we have in all of our countries.”

Currently, a trans person who wishes to legally have their gender identity recognised in Scotland must fit into a specific criteria under the Gender Recognition Act (2004). This includes a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, having lived in their “acquired gender” for two years before they apply, and intend to live in their gender for the rest of their life.

Applicants must also provide two medical reports to the Gender Recognition Panel who will review the evidence and then approve or deny an application – often without meeting the person applying. Applicants must be aged 18 and over, and in some cases if the applicant is married, they will need the consent of their spouse. The process can take up to five years.