Fears trans law may put women at risk in school, hospitals and prisons

Nicola Sturgeon’s new trans law could put women at risk in English schools, hospitals and prisons, fear ministers – with male ‘gender tourists’ travelling to Scotland to be declared women in law

  • There are fears Scottish trans law could lead to ‘gender tourism’ to the country 
  • Government lawyers are concerns about women’s rights in key industries in UK 
  • Concerns legislations could make same-sex healthcare harder to guarantee 
  • Meanwhile, there are fears single sex schools could be forced to change rules 
  • Also concerns that trans women would be automatically placed in female estate  

The UK Government fears Nicola Sturgeon’s trans law reform could undermine women’s rights in key industries, reports say. 

Government lawyers in Westminster are concerned that the legislation – which makes it easier for trans people as young as 16 to change their gender – could make it more difficult to guarantee same-sex healthcare, and could impose new rules on single sex schools, The Telegraph reports. 

There are also concerns that people who have transitioned into women would automatically be placed in a female estate, and only moved into a special unit for transgender prisoners if they were considered high risk. 

The legislation, which came into affect towards the end of last year, has also sparked fears of ‘gender tourism’ to Scotland from other parts of the UK where the law has not been changed. 

The controversial new law was passed by the Scottish Parliament last month (Pictured: First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon)

It has been suggested a male-born transgender woman could travel to Scotland to have their gender legally changed, then use their new official status to access female-only spaces in other nations

The controversial new law passed by the Scottish Parliament states that people will no longer need a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order to legally change their gender and be given a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). 

It will also lower the minimum age for applicants from 18 to 16 and drop the time required for an applicant to live in their acquired gender from two years to three months, although with a subsequent, three-month reflection period. 

While it was debated by MSPs in the Scottish Parliament, changes were made to the legislation to mean 16 and 17-year-olds will have to live in their acquired gender for six months rather than three before applying for a GRC.

There will also be a new statutory aggravation to the offence of making a fraudulent application for a GRC. 

And anyone subject to a sexual harm prevention order or sexual offences prevention order will not be allowed to seek a GRC. 

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also warned that there could now be an impact on sex discrimination laws across the UK, including equal pay. 

Gender recognition is a devolved matter, but the Government is concerned about the impact of the Bill on equalities laws, which are the preserve of Westminster.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has not ruled out the UK Government trying to prevent the bill passing into law

Ministers will debate this month and decide whether to overturn the legislation. 

Government lawyers are now considering how the law might impact the NHS, education and the criminal justice system across the country. 

It is believed that the legislation could make intimate same-sex care more difficult to guarantee, as there could be an increase in the number of health workers who have changed their gender. 

In single sex schools, where polices on gender are decided independently, there are fears that they will be pressured to amend their admission rules. The age clause of the legislation, allowing people to change gender from 16 to 18, means that more sixth formers could legally change their gender and request a place at a single sex school. 

Government sources have previously told The Times they feared the new law could be used to allow biologically male Scottish prisoners in English jails to demand to be placed in women’s prisons. 

Scottish transgender women could also demand their new rights are mirrored in England, such as access to female-only spaces. 

The Government may now be gearing up to block the legislation from being enshrined into law. 

Under the Scotland Act, the UK Government can challenge devolved legislation if it feels it impacts on national security or reserved matters. 

Protesters gathered outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh as MSPs debated the gender recognition reforms


It means Scottish Secretary Alistair Jack is now able to legally challenge the legislation if he believes it impacts on the wider UK. Non-government opponents will also be able to take legal action if they wish to do so. 

In a statement after the final vote last month, Mr Jack said the UK Government will consider action in the Supreme Court.

‘We share the concerns that many people have regarding certain aspects of this bill, and in particular the safety issues for women and children,’ he said.

‘We will look closely at that, and also the ramifications for the 2010 Equality Act and other UK-wide legislation, in the coming weeks – up to and including a Section 35 order stopping the Bill going for Royal Assent if necessary.’

Ms Sturgeon has dismissed concerns about the impact of the bill and her Scottish Government has insisted any attempts by Westminster to block the legislation will be ‘vigorously contested’. 

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