AS MSPs prepare to cast their final votes on the reform of gender recognition legislation in Scotland, it’s worth remembering who this legislation is intended to benefit: that is, transgender people.

Indeed, it seems an obvious point to make. But the lived experience of transgender people has often taken a backseat in the debate over the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.

For no group is this more true than transgender men.

While politicians poured over concerns about the safeguarding of women in single-sex spaces – fearing that “bad faith” men will take advantage of the simplified process of attaining a Gender Recognition Certificate – transgender women were subject to the brunt of associated media hysteria.

However, the legislation set to be voted on by MSPs today – which will remove the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria before a person can apply for a GRC – will equally impact transgender men.

“The narrative around transgender women has been that they are scary or predatory,” said Ryan McLeod, a 38-year-old transgender man living in Edinburgh.

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“But the narrative around trans men, specifically within circles that are opposed to trans rights, is that they are just confused girls who don’t know what they’re doing.

“I’ve dealt with this my whole life. I'm used to being overlooked. But I’m almost 40; I know what I need. I’m probably confused in many ways about my life – but I’m not confused about who I am.”

McLeod moved to Scotland from Poland more than fifteen years ago, a country he described as “horribly homophobic”.

“Before I even came out as trans,” he said. “Before I even realised that transitioning was possible, I was already dealing with a lot of homophobia in Poland.

“When I arrived in Scotland I thought ‘Oh my god this is great, nobody cares’.

“Then, when I came out as trans – when I realised that this is who I was – it sort of coincided with this conversation around gender reform beginning.

“So, for me, it was very much like going backwards when I thought that Scotland would be that safe haven.

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He added: “I think it’s quite ironic because Scotland likes to present itself as a progressive country, as a place that accepts everyone. And very often that is the case; I believe we are quite a welcoming nation.

“Yet somehow these conversations around trans people keep appearing, keep happening.”

McLeod said that part of the reason trans men have so often been overlooked in conversations around gender reform is down to the reduction of transgender people to their biology.

“The characteristics that people like to assign to transgender men and women are very often oppositional.

“There’s this binary conception that trans woman are threatening and scary while trans men are confused and small, which results in us not being included at all.

“Just look at the conversation around sports. It’s mistakenly represented that this is about scary men trying to take over women’s sport.

“But very often trans guys would actually like to participate with men yet aren’t allowed to.”

While McLeod highlights how external forces have relegated trans men to the fringes of the debate, Theo Seddon, a 25-year-old director and writer living in Glasgow, said that self-censorship has also played a part.

“I’ve gotten used to hearing stupid opinions about trans people,” he told The National.

“So, when there’s any sort of debate about trans people in the public sphere I just try to avoid it as much as I can.”

Seddon suggested that the difficulties that may come with transitioning can result in people not wanting to get too involved politically, especially when it can result in increased scrutiny of their lives.

“A lot of trans men, in my experience, become passable in day-to-day life and inherit all those male privileges and just enjoy being in the background for a bit, particularly if they were picked on and torn apart during their transition,” he said.

“So, there’s less trans men speaking on the topic because then it brings more hate towards them. But we have just as much right to speak on these issues. Even if we don’t experience as much hate as trans women we still exist as trans people and have that experience.”

Both McLeod and Seddon welcomed the legislation and said they were likely to apply for a GRC once the “complicated, unnecessary process” was simplified. But they also pointed towards other areas of concern for transgender people.

Namely, the inadequate availability and varying quality of transgender health care.

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“People are waiting potentially five years to see a specialist,” said McLeod. “And that’s just the beginning of the process.”

He added that as part of his job as a development worker for the charity LGBT Health and Wellbeing, he comes into contact with many people who spend thousands of pounds on private healthcare just to feel comfortable in their own bodies.

Seddon, who himself paid for private healthcare as part of his transition, said that even after paying extortionate prices the quality of care from private providers often fell below acceptable standards.

“There were lots of strange comments,” he said. “They used a lot of terms that were outdated, asked invasive questions that didn’t need to be asked.

“It felt as though they were cashing in on my desperation and I know a lot of other trans people feel that way, too.”

The exact same issues have been reported by trans women in Scotland, emphasising how legislative and societal changes impact all transgender people – even ones who are left out of the discussion.