HISTORIC plans to modernise gender recognition for trans people in Scotland have passed their first milestone.

Despite one SNP minister quitting in protest and one in seven of Nicola Sturgeon’s MSPs defying the party whip and opposing the plans – the legislation has passed its first Holyrood hurdle with ease.

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Proposals to reform the gender recognition process, first tabled by the SNP in 2016 is now backed by all Holyrood political parties except the Conservatives. The Tories supported the reforms in 2016.

The plan would drop the need for trans people to require a psychological examination and diagnosis for gender dysphoria before being able to have their gender recognised in law – with a move to a self-identification model, mirroring other countries.

MSPs from all parties, including the Conservatives’ Jamie Greene, pointed to misinformation and transphobia around the debate from some opponents – while those on both sides of the argument have suffered abuse.

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Opponents have claimed the changes are putting women’s rights at risk and are impacting the use of single sex spaces. But MSPs lined up to correctly state the plans have no bearing on single sex spaces, with a certificate not needed to enter any location.

A gender recognition certificate is used to legally change a trans person’s sex on their birth certificate – aimed at helping them be recognised as who they truly are, including when they marry, pay their taxes, receive their pension and have their death recorded.

Despite the obvious splits from party whips, it is likely that Scotland will match the likes of Ireland and France and offer a self-certification route for trans people – backed by the United Nations’s independent expert on gender identity, the Scottish Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International.

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Missing from the debate has been pressure from LGBTQ+ groups to go even further – the failure to include non-binary people in the reforms and some of the terminology around 'acquired gender' are just two areas of contention.

MSPs supporting the reforms yesterday stressed the importance of the legislation for trans and human rights and the need to get it right.

Despite opposition from most of the Conservative MSPs and seven SNP politicians, Holyrood has taken one step closer to bringing forward a meaningful piece of law that focuses one of Scotland’s most marginalised communities.