Scottish Government urged to provide more mental health provisions for trans and non-binary people

Doing "more of the same" will not improve lives of non-binary people, charities have said


A group of LGBT charities urged the Scottish Government to increase their support for non-binary individuals, stating doing "more of the same" will not improve their lives.

In reaction to comments from the non-binary working group, the Scottish Government published their response to recommendations.

Ministers accepted nine of the proposed recommendations, partially accepting 15 and pledging to further consider another eight.

Three of the recommendations were rejected as they were not deemed to be deliverable.

But LGBT charities who formed part of the working group have expressed their disappointment at what they see as the Edinburgh Government’s lack of ambition and drive on the recommendations.

LGBT charities believed the response is 'more of the same' and will not improve the lives of non-binary and transgender people
LGBT charities believed the response is 'more of the same' and will not improve the lives of non-binary and transgender people

A variety of the responses referred to actions already being taken by the Scottish Government to deal with issues impacting the non-binary community.

Scottish Trans Alliance Manager, Vic Valentine, welcomed the opportunity to make “wide-ranging recommendations to the Scottish Government”, but added: “It is disappointing how much of the response to our recommendations relies on assuming that existing work will address these barriers.

“The working group set out in detail in its report to the Government how non-binary people are almost never considered in the development of policies or law, or in the design and delivery of services, and the significant impact this has on us.

“Simply doing more of the same will not bring the meaningful changes needed, or improve people’s lives.”

Dr Mhairi Crawford, the Chief Executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, said the group was “frustrated” that all of the recommendations were not accepted, adding how they will continue to “push for meaningful progress”.

The Scottish Government implemented a selection of the charity's ideas
The Scottish Government implemented a selection of the charity's ideas

Similarly, LGBT Health and Wellbeing chief executive Mark Kelvin welcomed Holyrood's “efforts to engage in meaningful conversation and action in regards to improving the lives of our non-binary community members”.

But Mr Kelvin emphasised his dissatisfaction, stating: "We are disappointed in the Government’s lack of recognition of the need for specialised gender identity counselling for trans and non-binary people, which we know to be of necessity to the community.”

Ministers were asked to make "person-centred, specialised gender identity counselling services available for trans and non-binary people", in one recommendation, which the Scottish Government partially accepted.

The response outlined the Scottish Government's plans, stating how they will "ensure mental health services and support are person-centred appropriately" adding how they will support "transgender and non-binary people with a full range of issues including gender identity which may impact their mental health".

Mr Kelvin added: “Evidence demonstrates that non-binary people face disproportionate levels of poor mental health and wellbeing and mainstream services are not always best placed to support them.

“Meanwhile, third sector organisations such as ours do our best to meet this need but a lack of strategic or consistent funding, means that we frequently have to close our waitlist to some of Scotland’s most marginalised and increasingly attacked communities.”

Publishing the Scottish Government’s response, Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie expressed her thanks to members of the working group for the report, with particular gratitude to those with lived experience.

She added: "We have accepted the majority of the recommendations, partially accepting those with which we agree in principle but not to the full extent suggested by the group.

“Others we have committed to consider further so we can fully consider their impact or feasibility, and in a few cases we have declined the recommendation as it’s not achievable.

“We want to improve equality and bring about real, positive and lasting change to the lives of non-binary people, and we will now develop an action plan based on the group’s work to set out more fully how we intend to do this.

“I believe that advancing equality for marginalised groups ultimately advances rights for all.

“This is an opportunity to begin improving conditions for the non-binary community as well as other marginalised groups in Scotland.”