LABOUR reforms of the Gender Recognition Act will not include self-ID, the party’s shadow secretary of state for women and equalities has said.

That’s despite Sir Keir Starmer previously promising that he would scrap the need for a trans person to obtain a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria before being eligible for a gender recognition certificate.

The shift in policy — outlined in a column for the Guardian by Anneliese Dodds — is also a humiliating rebuke for the leadership north of the border. 

Last Christmas, Anas Sarwar whipped his MSPs to back the Scottish Government's Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which included so-called self-ID.

Ms Dodds described the legislation backed by her Holyrood colleagues as "simply not up to scratch."

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said the Scottish Labour leader should apologise for backing the legislation.

READ MORE: Sacked Tory MSP was 'punished' by Douglas Ross for backing gender law reform

In her column, Ms Dodds said that transgender rights needed “reform and leadership.”

She described both the Gender Recognition Act and the 2010 Equality Act as “one of Labour’s crowning achievements, not just of the last period of government, of any period.”

The frontbencher continued: “But now, in 2023, we have a much better understanding of the barriers trans people face.

“That is why Labour has committed to modernising the Gender Recognition Act. Changing gender is not a decision anyone makes lightly. The process is intrusive, outdated and humiliating.

“So we will modernise, simplify and reform the gender recognition law to a new process. We will remove invasive bureaucracy and simplify the process.”

The Herald:

However, Ms Dodds said the law “must also protect legitimate applications.”

“Last year, the Scottish National Party’s cavalier approach to reforming gender recognition laws seemed to be more about picking a fight with Westminster than bringing about meaningful change.

“The safeguards that were proposed to protect women and girls from predators who might abuse the system were simply not up to scratch. As a result, the Scottish government is still picking up the pieces, with trans rights no further forward.

“We will not make the same mistakes," Ms Dodds added, despite the legislation being backed by Labour as well as the SNP, the Greens, the Lib Dems and a handful of Scottish Tories.

She continued: “The requirement to obtain a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria remains an important part of accessing a gender recognition certificate.

“That’s especially the case now that gender dysphoria is no longer classified – and stigmatised – as a psychiatric disorder. It can help refer trans people into the NHS for support services – nearly a quarter of trans people don’t know how to access transition-related healthcare.

“Requiring a diagnosis upholds legitimacy of applications and confidence in the system.”

READ MORE: Sarwar refuses to criticise Keir Starmer over gender reforms concerns

Ms Dodds said Labour would “protect and uphold” the protected characteristics and provision for single-sex exemptions in the Equality Act.

She continued: “We need to recognise that sex and gender are different – as the Equality Act does.

“We will make sure that nothing in our modernised gender recognition process would override the single-sex exemptions in the Equality Act.

“Put simply, this means that there will always be places where it is reasonable for biological women only to have access.

“Labour will defend those spaces, providing legal clarity for the providers of single-sex services.”

Ms Dodds said she expected the policies to be “attacked from all sides, in good faith and bad.”

“But responsible politics is not about doing what is easy, it’s about doing what is right,” she added.

Labour’s 2019 manifesto, said the party was committed to “reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to introduce self-declaration for transgender people.”

During the party’s 2020 leadership contest, Sir Keir Starmer told PinkNews: “Trans rights are human rights and I support the right to self identification.”

READ MORE: Court date set for challenge to UK veto over gender reform bill

Earlier this year, Humza Yousaf confirmed that the Scottish Government would take UK ministers to court over their veto of Holyrood’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack used Section 30 of the Scotland Act in January to use section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 to prevent the Bill from gaining royal assent, despite being passed by MSPs.

He said the UK Government had concerns that the bill would have an “adverse impact” on UK-wide equalities law.

Responding to Ms Dodds' column, Murdo Fraser tweeted: "In this confused & rambling article, what sticks out is the attack on the SNP-Green ⁦@scotgov⁩ for legislating for self-ID in Scotland.

"So why on Earth did ⁦@AnasSarwar⁩ whip his MSPs to vote for it? And will he now apologise for this error?"

The Green MSP, Maggie Chapman said Ms Dodds had "shown a total lack of understanding about what has happened in Scotland."

She told The Herald: "Far from being 'cavalier', Gender Recognition Reform was one of the most scrutinised bills in the history of our Parliament and was supported by the overwhelming majority of MSPs, including most Labour MSPs.

"What Labour is proposing would go against the fundemantal principle of self-identification.

"Trans rights are human rights. Yet, over recent years in particular, we have seen some of the most vicious and disgraceful disinformation and smears used against our trans siblings.

"This is a time for pro-equality MPs and MSPs from all parties to speak out and stand up for what is right.

"Instead, Labour is threatening to U-turn on basic equality legislation that is already used around the world."

Scottish Labour Social Justice spokesperson Paul O’Kane said  "Labour is committed to modernising and reforming the outdated and intrusive Gender Recognition Act, as well as ensuring exemptions in the Equality Act are upheld.

“Scottish Labour continues to support the de-medicalisation of the process in Scotland.”