The government fears that Nicola Sturgeon’s transgender law will hurt women’s rights in England

Under Nicola Sturgeon's new law, people will no longer need a medical diagnosis before they can legally change their gender - Andrew Milligan/PA

Under Nicola Sturgeon’s new law, people will no longer need a medical diagnosis before they can legally change their gender – Andrew Milligan/PA

The government is concerned that Nicola Sturgeon’s transgender law will undermine women’s rights in England’s schools, hospitals and prisons, The Telegraph understands.

He is concerned that the controversial rules could make it much harder for English hospitals to guarantee same-sex intimate care to patients.

Government lawyers have been asked to look into the matter, as well as whether the new rules mean single-sex schools could be forced to change their rules to allow gender reassigned students to attend.

Under a new Edinburgh law passed by the Scottish Parliament, people will no longer need a medical diagnosis before they can legally change their gender and receive a “gender recognition certificate”.

Children will also be able to legally change their gender at 16, instead of waiting until they are 18 as at present.

However, the UK government says only Westminster can legislate on equality issues.

Research by lawyers

Scotland’s legislation is currently being scrutinized by government lawyers before ministers decide this month whether to overturn it.

On Saturday, a government source told The Telegraph: “The SNP hastily introduced this bill without fully considering its implications for the safety of women and girls.

“This is not a case of UK Government against Scottish Government, this is about ensuring sound legislation that does not run the risk of making life harder and more dangerous for UK citizens.”

Government lawyers are believed to be looking at three issues: how the new law could affect the NHS, education and criminal justice in the UK.

On health, they wonder if the new law would mean it would be more difficult to guarantee same-sex intimate care. The law makes it much easier for people to change their legal gender, which means there may be more health professionals who have changed gender.

What does this mean for education

Lawyers are also wondering what the new rules could mean for education.

Currently, single-sex schools are free to decide their own sex and gender policies, such as admitting gender reassigned people.

However, Scottish legislation lowers the age at which you can change your gender from 18 to 16.

This means that with more 6th graders switching gender, single-sex schools may face pressure to change their admissions policies.

They can also have implications for criminal justice as the Prison Service in England and Wales treats people differently depending on whether or not they have a Gender Recognition Certificate.

There are concerns that any offender with a certificate recognized by the UK government would be placed on women’s property and taken out only or to a special unit for transgender prisoners if they were deemed to be extremely high risk.

‘Understands British criteria’

Maya Forstater, executive director of Sex Matters, said: “The Scottish bill undermines UK criteria for a Gender Recognition Certificate based on a medical assessment and allows anyone to get a GRC on a self-declared basis, without treatment or safeguards.

“This means there will be many more people able to get certified, and organizations will never be able to feel confident excluding someone who is clearly male from women-only spaces and services.

“The key question for the UK government is whether they will accept people who have gone through the Scottish system but were born in England and Wales to change their gender on their birth certificate. Scotland would in effect act as a ‘haven’ of light regulation, which would then spill over to all of Britain.”

She added: “There would be huge problems for schools. Single-sex schools are legally allowed, but schools would now have to admit a child of the opposite sex and face criminal penalties if teachers and staff “disclose” a child’s real gender to other staff, pupils or parents.

“The UK government does not have to accept this result. He should take the bill to the High Court and make sure that the Scottish Parliament only legislated in its own right and did not ignore women’s rights and child protection.”

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