THE Scottish Government's gender reform bill has passed the first stage in Holyrood and will now face a series of amendments.

It passed overwhelmingly by 88 votes for yes, 33 for no, and four abstentions. 

The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Act has been described as an "admin issue" by many transgender people who say the current process is lengthy, demeaning, and can be expensive.

The reforms would remove the medical requirement and panel process and instead allow trans people to self-identify.

They would only have to live in their acquired gender for three months instead of two years before obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), and a declaration would be made in front of a notary public or a Justice of the Peace.

READ MORE: RECAP: Updates from Holyrood as GRA debate leads to minister's resignation

It would also mean the document would be awarded by the Registrar General instead of a medical panel. The age for applying for a GRC would be lowered from 18 to 16.

Two lengthy consultations have been undertaken on the reforms and are a manifesto commitment for both the SNP and Scottish Greens

SNP MSPs were whipped to back the reforms but there were nine who rebelled. Stephanie Callaghan, Fergus Ewing, Kenneth Gibson, Ruth Maguire, John Mason, Ash Regan, and Michelle Thomson voted against, while Annabelle Ewing and Jim Fairlie abstained. 

Regan resigned from her role as community safety minister ahead of the vote stating that she couldn't support the government's stance as a matter of "conscience", while the First Minister said that she had not raised concerns to her or social justice secretary Shona Robison. 

All Scottish Green (7) and Scottish LibDems (4) backed the proposals, as did 21 Labour MSPs. 

Two Tories backed the plans Jamie Greene and Sandesh Gulhane, while Jackson Carlaw and Miles Briggs abstained.

The National: John Mason was among seven in the SNP ranks to vote against the BillJohn Mason was among seven in the SNP ranks to vote against the Bill

Four MSPs did not take part in the vote, including Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and Tory deputy leader Meghan Gallacher, who are both on maternity leave, and Labour’s Alex Rowley.

LGBT campaigners and transgender Scots welcomed the majority of MSPs voting in favour of reform.

Patricia, a trans woman in Edinburgh, said that her experience of the GRC process was “incredibly invasive and time-consuming”. 

She said: “I had to send years of private documents to a panel of psychiatrists who I will never meet, and then wait almost a year for them to decide if I met their criteria.

“Reforming the Gender Recognition Act will make a real difference to the lives of transgender Scots by removing this administrative burden, ensuring no one else is stuck with a birth certificate that doesn’t reflect their identity or the facilities they use.”

READ MORE: Anti-LGBT protesters at Scottish Parliament drowned out by chants of 'trans joy'

Ryan, a trans man in Edinburgh, said: “Being able to submit a quick, legally binding self-declaration instead of heavy folders full of documentation is a huge step in making the whole process less overwhelming.

“I know that the folks I work with will welcome this change and the clear signal from the MSPs that trans people can and should be able to live their lives to the fullest while being protected by the law. Small steps like this vote make a huge difference in trans men and women feeling supported to be who they are.”

Vic Valentine, manager of the Scottish Trans Alliance said that the current process has “far too many barriers”.

They added: “We look forward to working with MSPs across the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee and the wider parliament over the coming weeks to make sure that the bill is improved even further before it goes to a final vote – and to persuading our politicians to vote for changes that will greatly improve trans men and trans women’s lives across Scotland.”

Ellie Gomersall, NUS president, told The National that from her own experience pursuing a GRC can be a lengthy and potentially expensive process.

She said: "Under the current system you have to present a whole load of evidence to a panel of so-called experts who will decide whether they think you are a man or a woman essentially, and gathering that evidence takes a lot of time and it’s really costly.

"You need a psychiatric diagnosis, and if you want that on the NHS then waiting lists are already four years and to get that privately you’re looking at £200 to £300 or more, and that’s money that I certainly don’t have and other trans people don’t have as well.

"Reforming the Gender Recognition Act will make it easier to get that piece of paper that says who you are and to be able to get that in a dignified and acceptable way."

Tim Hopkins, director of Equality Network, said: “Through this vote, Scotland’s Parliament continues our steady progress towards a fair and equal country that respects everyone’s rights.”

Colin Macfarlane, director of Nations at Stonewall, said that the bill passing the first stage was a “milestone” in Scotland’s journey to demedicalise the gender recognition process. 

Maggie Chapman, Scottish Greens equalities spokesperson, said it was a “crucial step for equality” and that Scotland is at the forefront of equality in the UK. 

READ MORE: Scotland 'could be funding England's nuclear plants after independence' under RAB model

She added: “Self-identification is a crucial reform. It is a key part of the Bute House Agreement that the Scottish Greens negotiated with the Scottish Government. But it is only one part of the change that is needed. 

“Over the course of this parliamentary term we will transform the way that trans people access and experience healthcare. And we will introduce a comprehensive ban on conversion practices.

“We owe a great debt today to our trans and non-binary friends, colleagues, comrades, and relatives, those who have campaigned and explained, written, sung, painted, marched, prayed, and believed. Today is for you. We see you and we thank you.”

SNP MP Pete Wishart said after the vote: "Just fantastic and with an overwhelming majority too. Trans people have been waiting so long for these modest reforms. Hopefully, this will take some of the heat out of the debate, but then again, there’s always Twitter…”

Which MSPs voted for and against the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill at stage one?

See the full breakdown below.

Yes votes: 88

No votes:33

Abstentions: 4

Not voting: 4


Adam, George (Paisley) (SNP)

Adam, Karen (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP)

Adamson, Clare (Motherwell and Wishaw) (SNP)

Allan, Alasdair (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP)

Arthur, Tom (Renfrewshire South) (SNP)

Baillie, Jackie (Dumbarton) (Lab)

Baker, Claire (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)

Beattie, Colin (Midlothian North and Musselburgh) (SNP)

Bibby, Neil (West Scotland) (Lab)

Boyack, Sarah (Lothian) (Lab)

Brown, Keith (Clackmannanshire and Dunblane) (SNP)

Brown, Siobhian (Ayr) (SNP)

Burgess, Ariane (Highlands and Islands) (Green)

Chapman, Maggie (North East Scotland) (Green)

Choudhury, Foysol (Lothian) (Lab)

Clark, Katy (West Scotland) (Lab)

Coffey, Willie (Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley) (SNP)

Cole-Hamilton, Alex (Edinburgh Western) (LD)

Constance, Angela (Almond Valley) (SNP)

Dey, Graeme (Angus South) (SNP)

Don, Natalie (Renfrewshire North and West) (SNP)

Doris, Bob (Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn) (SNP)

Dornan, James (Glasgow Cathcart) (SNP)

Dunbar, Jackie (Aberdeen Donside) (SNP)

Duncan-Glancy, Pam (Glasgow) (Lab)

FitzPatrick, Joe (Dundee City West) (SNP)

Gilruth, Jenny (Mid Fife and Glenrothes) (SNP)

Gougeon, Mairi (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP)

Grahame, Christine (Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale) (SNP)

Grant, Rhoda (Highlands and Islands) (Lab)

Gray, Neil (Airdrie and Shotts) (SNP)

Greene, Jamie (West Scotland) (Con)

Greer, Ross (West Scotland) (Green)

Griffin, Mark (Central Scotland) (Lab)

Gulhane, Sandesh (Glasgow) (Con)

Harper, Emma (South Scotland) (SNP)

Harvie, Patrick (Glasgow) (Green)

Haughey, Clare (Rutherglen) (SNP)

Hepburn, Jamie (Cumbernauld and Kilsyth) (SNP)

Hyslop, Fiona (Linlithgow) (SNP)

Johnson, Daniel (Edinburgh Southern) (Lab)

Kidd, Bill (Glasgow Anniesland) (SNP)

Lennon, Monica (Central Scotland) (Lab)

Leonard, Richard (Central Scotland) (Lab)

Lochhead, Richard (Moray) (SNP)

MacDonald, Gordon (Edinburgh Pentlands) (SNP)

MacGregor, Fulton (Coatbridge and Chryston) (SNP)

Mackay, Gillian (Central Scotland) (Green)

Mackay, Rona (Strathkelvin and Bearsden) (SNP)

Macpherson, Ben (Edinburgh Northern and Leith) (SNP)

Marra, Michael (North East Scotland) (Lab)

Martin, Gillian (Aberdeenshire East) (SNP)

Matheson, Michael (Falkirk West) (SNP)

McAllan, Màiri (Clydesdale) (SNP)

McArthur, Liam (Orkney Islands) (LD)

McKee, Ivan (Glasgow Provan) (SNP)

McKelvie, Christina (Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse) (SNP)

McLennan, Paul (East Lothian) (SNP)

McMillan, Stuart (Greenock and Inverclyde) (SNP)

McNair, Marie (Clydebank and Milngavie) (SNP)

McNeill, Pauline (Glasgow) (Lab)

Minto, Jenni (Argyll and Bute) (SNP)

Mochan, Carol (South Scotland) (Lab)

Nicoll, Audrey (Aberdeen South and North Kincardine) (SNP)

O'Kane, Paul (West Scotland) (Lab)

Rennie, Willie (North East Fife) (LD)

Robertson, Angus (Edinburgh Central) (SNP)

Robison, Shona (Dundee City East) (SNP)

Roddick, Emma (Highlands and Islands) (SNP)

Ruskell, Mark (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green)

Sarwar, Anas (Glasgow) (Lab)

Slater, Lorna (Lothian) (Green)

Smyth, Colin (South Scotland) (Lab)

Somerville, Shirley-Anne (Dunfermline) (SNP)

Stevenson, Collette (East Kilbride) (SNP)

Stewart, Kaukab (Glasgow Kelvin) (SNP)

Stewart, Kevin (Aberdeen Central) (SNP)

Sturgeon, Nicola (Glasgow Southside) (SNP)

Sweeney, Paul (Glasgow) (Lab)

Swinney, John (Perthshire North) (SNP)

Todd, Maree (Caithness, Sutherland and Ross) (SNP)

Torrance, David (Kirkcaldy) (SNP)

Tweed, Evelyn (Stirling) (SNP)

Villalba, Mercedes (North East Scotland) (Lab)

Whitfield, Martin (South Scotland) (Lab)

Whitham, Elena (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley) (SNP)

Wishart, Beatrice (Shetland Islands) (LD)

Yousaf, Humza (Glasgow Pollok) (SNP)


Balfour, Jeremy (Lothian) (Con)

Burnett, Alexander (Aberdeenshire West) (Con)

Callaghan, Stephanie (Uddingston and Bellshill) (SNP)

Cameron, Donald (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

Carson, Finlay (Galloway and West Dumfries) (Con)

Dowey, Sharon (South Scotland) (Con)

Ewing, Fergus (Inverness and Nairn) (SNP)

Findlay, Russell (West Scotland) (Con)

Fraser, Murdo (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

Gibson, Kenneth (Cunninghame North) (SNP)

Golden, Maurice (North East Scotland) (Con)

Gosal, Pam (West Scotland) (Con)

Halcro Johnston, Jamie (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

Hamilton, Rachael (Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire) (Con)

Hoy, Craig (South Scotland) (Con)

Kerr, Liam (North East Scotland) (Con)

Kerr, Stephen (Central Scotland) (Con)

Lumsden, Douglas (North East Scotland) (Con)

Maguire, Ruth (Cunninghame South) (SNP)

Mason, John (Glasgow Shettleston) (SNP)

McCall, Roz (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

Mountain, Edward (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

Mundell, Oliver (Dumfriesshire) (Con)

Regan, Ash (Edinburgh Eastern) (SNP)

Ross, Douglas (Highlands and Islands) (Con)

Simpson, Graham (Central Scotland) (Con)

Smith, Liz (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

Stewart, Alexander (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con)

Thomson, Michelle (Falkirk East) (SNP)

Webber, Sue (Lothian) (Con)

Wells, Annie (Glasgow) (Con)

White, Tess (North East Scotland) (Con)

Whittle, Brian (South Scotland) (Con)


Briggs, Miles (Lothian) (Con)

Carlaw, Jackson (Eastwood) (Con)

Ewing, Annabelle (Cowdenbeath) (SNP)

Fairlie, Jim (Perthshire South and Kinross-shire) (SNP)

Not voting

Forbes, Kate. (Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch) (SNP)
Gallacher, Meghan. (Central Scotland) (Con)
Rowley, Alex. (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Lab)
Johnstone, Alison. (Lothian Region) (Presiding Officer)