43.Submission from Zara Strange
My birth was registered in England whereas my
home is now in Scotland.
I have three areas of concern that I should
like the Joint Committee to address:
1. Proceedings before a court or tribunal
I work as a court-based Co-ordinator for a national
charity. I am also a member of Aberdeenshire Council Children's
Panel. The Scottish Children's Hearing System is an officially
constituted tribunal and members are appointed by First Minister
(previously by the Secretary of State for Scotland).
Since 1997, I have been singled out to be treated
differently from all other panel members in that I have only been
allowed to sit on panels comprising a man, another woman and myself.
This has meant that all persons involved in allocating panel members
to hearings have been advised of my gender status. This has included
all new and temporary staff of both Aberdeenshire Children's Panel
and the Aberdeen Children's Reporters Office. I consider this
to be an on going infringement of my privacy.
I consider that paragraph 14(4)(f) is too vague
and could be used to sanction disclosure of any person who works
in a court or tribunal. This includes court staff, clerks, administrators,
volunteers, tribunal members, jury members, police and judges.
In the case of Children's Hearings, it could additionally include
schoolteachers, social workers, citizen advocates, reporters.
Section 14, as it stands, could cancel out any
protection otherwise offered by the Act to people working in the
justice and in the care systems. This would enable a prosecutor,
a defence agent, court reporter or any other person to disclose
the status of a transsexual person.
I would suggest adding something along the lines
of "the disclosure of an accused person or a pursuer or a
defendant or a person required to appear before a tribunal and
only when that person's pre re-registration status is necessary
to determine the truth in the case before the court or tribunal".
2. Applications within six months of commencementSections
2(6) and (7) and Section 19
In 1997 I formally changed my name on all official
documents, including passport and driving licence. Since that
time I have had no need to use a Birth Certificate and indeed
do not recollect having even seen it since 1993 when my marriage
ended. Although I have repeatedly requested a replacement, I was
only offered one showing a gender status and name that I swore
by affidavit in front of a Justice of the Peace, that I no longer
used for any purpose.
I request that applications made within six
months of commencement by persons who have lived in the acquired
gender throughout a period of six years must include
(a) the applicant's birth certificate with
evidence concerning any changes in the name by which the applicant
has been known at any time during the applicant's life, or
To receive a passport showing their amended
name and gender, a transsexual person is required to produce a
letter from an appropriately qualified and practising doctor plus
evidence of change of name; they are also required to give up
any former passport. These are the same requirements for a gender
recognition certificate as detailed in this White Paper.
3. FeesSection 4(2)
I request that the fees for obtaining a gender
recognition certificate should not be set at a figure so as to
prevent transsexual people on low incomes from being able to apply.
I respectfully suggest a figure between £10 and £20.
3 August 2003