TRANSGENDER teenagers will have stricter rules for changing their legally-recognised sex under new changes to a bill working its way through Holyrood

Those aged 16 to 17 will need to live in their “acquired gender” for a minimum of six months rather than three before applying for a gender recognition certificate, under an amendment backed by the Scottish Government.

A new offence of making a fraudulent application for a gender recognition certificate will also be created, Social Justice Minister Shona Robison said.

On Tuesday, Holyrood’s Equalities Committee began its first day of considering the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill at stage two.

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The bill passed stage one at the end of October, though seven SNP MSPs defied the whip to vote against it and minister Ash Regan quit the Government in protest.

Opponents of the Bill have raised concerns about the impact of the legislation on women and girls, while supporters say it will have little impact outside the trans community.

During the meeting, the SNP’s Christine Grahame proposed a number of amendments, which were also backed by the Conservatives’ Jackson Carlaw.

One changed the period 16 and 17-year-olds would have to live in their “acquired gender” from three months to six months before applying.

It maintains the period as three months for those aged 18 and over.

Grahame said: “All I want to do is put precautions and support in for 16- and 17-year-olds because I did share concerns that they are being put in the same position as 18-year-olds.”

Robison said she backed Grahame’s amendments.

The minister said: “Increasing the time period to six months would allow many young people greater opportunity to access guidance before applying, which they can confirm to the registrar general.”

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Maggie Chapman (above), a Green member of the committee, was opposed to the change.

She argued that the age of legal capacity was already set as 16, saying: “It’s almost as if we trust them to make big legal decisions on their own.

“I don’t see why this should be any different.”

Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton sought to maintain the current minimum age for obtaining a certificate as 18.

Such an age requirement was necessary for other activities such as smoking or driving a car, she said.

However, her proposal was voted down by the committee.

The Conservatives’ Russell Findlay also put forward a number of amendments which sought to prevent registered sex offenders from acquiring a gender recognition certificate.

He said the bill as it stands would allow male sex offenders to change their identities, adding that “prisons are full” of men who seek to exploit loopholes in the law.

He also raised concerns that female victims of sexual offences may have to refer to male attackers as “she or her” in the dock.

Findlay said: “It risks making a mockery of the justice system and re-traumatising victims of sexual violence.”

Robison said she could not back Findlay’s amendment, but said the Scottish Government was bringing in other changes.

One of these was a new requirement under the sex offenders notification scheme for offenders to alert police if they made an application for a gender recognition certificate.

Applications could be made to a sheriff if someone believed a certificate was being obtained fraudulently, she said.

The minister also said the Government backed the “principle” of a new offence of fraudulently applying for a gender recognition certificate.

READ MORE: Ash Regan releases statement explaining why she quit government over GRA Bill

During the committee session, Findlay also brought up posts on social media regarding a member of the public who was allegedly asked to remove a scarf while viewing the proceedings in the public gallery.

He said the scarf was purple, white and green – colours associated with the suffragette movement.

Convener Joe Fitzpatrick moved the committee into private session immediately after Findlay’s question.

Findlay later tweeted that security had said that clothing bearing “political slogans” was not permitted, something he questioned.