Scotland passes groundbreaking transgender rights law

The country now allows people aged 16 and older to change their legal gender status without requiring medical documentation.

A trans flag being waved as Spain and Scotland pass new laws.
Image: Twitter @JaumedUrgell

On Thursday, December 22, Scotland passed a historic transgender rights bill that allows people aged 16 and older to legally change their gender on their national identity cards. The Parliament approved the proposal by 86 votes to 39.

Not only was the age limit for applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate reduced from 18 to 16, applicants will now also only need to have identified as their preferred gender for three months, rather than the two years previously required.

Before proposing the final version of the bill to parliament, Shona Robison, Social Justice Minister, said, like equal marriage and civil partnership legislation before it, “this is an important step to creating a more equal Scotland.”

On the same day, Spain’s lower house of Parliament similarly passed a new transgender rights bill by 188 votes in favour, 150 against, and seven abstentions.

Spain initially approved the bill, which allows people to apply to change their gender-related information without needing to undergo medical procedures or attend court, earlier in 2022, but the country held fierce discussions for months around the details of the legislation with tensions dividing Spain’s left-wing government.

Debates among the Socialist party ultimately prompted LGBTQ+ activist Carla Antonelli to resign from the party over the disagreements. Antonelli is the first and only trans woman to have ever served as a Spanish politician.

Despite this, the bill passed including the change that allows children aged as young as 12 to change their gender identity with judicial approval. It also requires schools to use their chosen name rather than their registered name.

The transgender rights bill is one of the flagship projects of the Equality Ministry. Recognising the step forward for trans rights, Equality Minister Irene Montero, who has long supported gender-affirming care, said, “Today the feminist majority in this House responds to transphobia.”


After passing the first stage on Thursday, the bill in Spain will move to the Senate.

Prior to these bills, trans people were required to provide medical reports with a gender dysphoria diagnosis and submit proof of hormonal treatment before they were able to update their gender IDs.

The new legislation allows anyone over the age of 16 to change their gender on their ID card by completing a simple declaration form, but both countries endured debates from those in opposition to the bills.

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