Gender identity and your rights

A number of acts and policies around gender identity exist to protect people who identify as transgender from discrimination.

For more information, you can also visit the Scottish Trans Alliance website

NHS Scotland Gender Reassignment Protocol

The Gender Reassignment Protocol was issued to NHS Boards on 11 July 2012. 

The Gender Reassignment Protocol contains a number of therapies and surgical procedures, which the patient and their gender clinician should discuss in detail to find the most appropriate treatment pathway. 

The protocol sets out the treatment pathway from initial enquiry to completion and enables the patient to have a say in decisions about their healthcare.

Any treatment for gender dysphoria in Scotland should follow the protocol.

The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act, 2010 protects transgender people from discrimination and harassment in various areas, such as work or the provision of goods and services.

The Act does not require a person to be under medical supervision to be protected. For example, someone assigned male at birth who decides to live permanently as a woman, but does not consult a doctor or undergo any medical procedures, would be protected.

The Act also protects people associated with them, such as family members, as well as others who are perceived to be transgender. 

Gender Recognition Act 2004

Under the Gender Recognition Act of 2004, transgender people can:

To apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate you must be over 18 years of age. The application process requires you to prove that you:

  • have or have had gender dysphoria 
  • have lived as your preferred gender for the last two years 
  • intend to live permanently in your preferred gender

Patient Advice and Support Service

The Patient Advice and Support Service is an independent service which provides free, accessible and confidential information, advice and support to patients, their carers and families about NHS healthcare.  

The service:

  • can provide you with information, advice and support if you want to give feedback or comments, or raise concerns or complaints, about healthcare provided by NHS Scotland
  • helps you understand your rights and responsibilities as a patient
  • works with the NHS in Scotland to improve healthcare provision 

The Patient Advice and Support Service can be accessed from any Citizens Advice Bureau in Scotland.

Support and advice

If you're experiencing mental health issues as a result of gender dysphoria, help is available.

Switchboard LGBT+

Contact Switchboard LGBT+ on 0300 330 0630, from 10am to 10pm every day.

You can also use their webchat service through the Switchboard LGBT+ website.

Breathing Space

You can also access support from Breathing Space by phoning 0800 83 85 87. 

The Breathing Space phoneline is available:

  • 24 hours at weekends (6pm Friday to 6am Monday)
  • 6pm to 2am on weekdays (Monday to Thursday)

Urgent advice: Phone 111 if you're:

  • in a state of despair
  • suicidal
  • need emotional support

Last updated:
09 January 2023