The UK government in Westminster is threatening to block new gender recognition legislation passed in Scotland.
The new bill, which passed on Thursday in the Scottish Parliament with 86 to 39 votes in its favour, will allow people as young as 16 to change their gender through self-declaration - without the need for a medical certificate.
It will be the first country in the UK to introduce a self-declaration system.
Scottish lawmakers argue the legislation is needed because it will make the lives of the country’s transgender community easier.
"Removing the need for medical diagnosis for a trans person who wants to legally change their gender is actually one of the purposes of this legislation, because the need for that is one of the most intrusive, traumatic and dehumanising parts of the current system," Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, said.
The new rules will require anyone applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate to have lived full-time in their declared identity for three months. And that timeline is extended to six months if they are between 16 and 17.
The previous system required that they waited two years before making the change.
It also creates a three-month “reflection period”, during which a person can change their mind.
But after the bill passed, the UK's Scottish secretary, Alister Jack, said he could prevent it from reaching Royal assent, backing critics who claimed it could endanger women in same-sex spaces such as domestic abuse shelters.
“We will look closely at that, and also the ramifications for the 2010 Equality Act and other UK-wide legislation, in the coming weeks – up to and including a section 35 order stopping the bill going for royal assent if necessary,” he said in a statement.
Westminster has also raised concerns it would cause ‘legal chaos’ and ‘gender tourism’ within the UK, as it is unclear if Scotland’s Gender Recognition Certificate would be valid across the internal borders of the UK.
Meanwhile, in Spain, a similar bill passed in the country's lower house on Thursday.
The legislation would allow people as young as 16 to change their legal gender markers without medical supervision.
Minors between 12 and 13 will need a judge’s authorization to change their legal gender marker, while teenagers between 14 and 16 will have to be accompanied by their legal guardians.
The current system in Spain requires a person to be diagnosed by several doctors of gender dysphoria. And in some cases, they also have to prove that they have lived for two years as the gender they identified with or show that they have taken hormones.
Some of the country’s Transgender rights groups say the law represents a “before and after” in LGBTQ+ rights.
The legislation will now move on to Spain’s Senate for final approval.