NUS Scotland President, Ellie Gomersall, at the Scottish Parliament. Credit: Ellie Gomersall via Instagram

NUS Scotland President calls decision to block GRR Bill ‘undemocratic’

NUS Scotland President Ellie Gomersall, who is trans herself, has been vocal in her support for the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

Over the past week, the current President of the National Union of Students of Scotland (NUS Scotland), Ellie Gomersall, a strong supporter of the legislation, has condemned the use of the Section 35 order being used to block the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill passed in the Scottish Parliament. 

While trans people are currently able to update their name and gender in official documents such as their driving license or passport, the birth certificate presently requires a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). In Scotland, a GRC can be issued by four NHS gender identity clinics or after a private psychiatric assessment. Once a GRC has been obtained, it entitles the applicant to make changes to their birth certificate in reflection of their preferred identity. 

After the UK government confirmed that it will invoke section 35 of the Scotland Act for the first time in order to block the GRR bill voted on by the Scottish Parliament, Gomersall, who is a Scottish Green Party activist and trans herself, has called the decision made by the UK government an “unjustifiable attack on trans people” and “an attack on Scottish devolution and on Scottish democracy”. 

In a series of interviews and publications, Gomersall argued that the bill was “a small administrative change” which would simplify the process of updating birth certificates for trans people, thereby making their lives “more dignified”. Speaking to Sky News, Gomersall shared her experience of the process of obtaining a GRC, explaining that she has not yet received an initial appointment for a medical diagnosis at an NHS gender identity clinic, despite having been on a waiting list for almost five years. She jokes that “the hardest thing about being trans is the admin”. Gomersall adds that with the Bill not becoming law, her birth certificate, unreflective of her preferred identity, will list her sex as male. 

Writing in The Times, Gomersall called on the UK government to “not simply reverse their blocking of the bill; they should take inspiration from Scotland and implement these reforms across the whole country.”

“The UK government has been for a very long time, recognizing gender recognition certificates from these other countries. So now to suddenly stop doing that, now that Scotland has taken that step forwards, I think it is clear that this is an act of disrespect to Scotland and to trans people,” according to Gomersall. 

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