Statement on UK Government Response to Gender Recognition Act Reform – June 2020

A person, seen from behind, holding a transgender pride flag over their head against the sky

The Diversity Trust is an organisation proud to be led by Trans and Non-Binary people who work across our organisation to advance social and legal equality.

Following recent reports about the decision by the UK Government to cancel reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, which gives transgender people the ability to change their birth certificate to reflect their chosen gender identity, we are concerned by this announcement.

A consultation was held in 2018 which had 100,000 responses, more than any other government consulting on gender recognition reform, with more than 70% in favour of reform.

Gender Recognition Certificates (GRC)

The current UK gender recognition system requires a medical diagnosis, publicly living as your chosen gender, and a lengthy and expensive legal process. A process where you have to prove to a panel that your gender is real so they will give you a Gender Recognition Certificate to update your birth certificate so that your sex matches your gender. The proposed reforms would have replaced that with a statutory declaration. As an adult with capacity you could then make a witnessed legal statement and obtain the new certificate.

Transition from one sex to another in the UK is already very difficult. Before you can access hormones or surgery, your GP needs to refer you to a Gender Identity Clinic, of which there are only nine in England and four in Scotland. There are currently no gender clinics in Wales. The waiting times to see someone at a GIC is currently between 2-4 years, for an initial appointment.

The route to accessing a GRC is challenging. You must: i) be over 18; ii) have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria by a psychiatrist; iii) show you’ve lived as your gender for up to 2 years; iv) intend to live as your gender for the rest of your life.

To get your GRC your application goes in front of a quasi-judicial panel which will assess submitted evidence and potentially query you for further info before deciding whether to issue a certificate. The panel can decline your request and there is no right to appeal the decision.

If you are married your spouse must give their consent or you’ll have to choose between your marriage and your GRC. If you are in a civil partnership, and your gender change makes it a mixed-sex relationship, you’ll need to convert your civil partnership to a marriage or separate.

It costs £140 fee to apply for a GRC and if you need a new birth certificate you have to purchase one. As well as getting a new passport, driving license etc. The process for obtaining a GRC can take over five years.

The majority of trans people in the UK don’t opt to go for a GRC because it’s time-consuming and expensive and can be very emotionally challenging and difficult.

Only doctors registered with the British Medical Council can approve gender-confirming treatment.

It is illegal to ask to see someone’s Gender Recognition Certificate and trans people post transition should be treated in the sex in which they present.

Equality Act and Single-Sex Services

It is illegal in the UK to discriminate against people with a range of protected characteristics including sex and gender reassignment.

The GRA reform is not about access to single-sex or women only services it is about easier access to gender recognition. Most single-sex and women only services have been accepting self-ID for decades and access to goods and services are protected under the Equality Act 2010.

Access to Public Toilets

Attempts were made in both North Carolina and Texas in the USA to issue guidelines on lavatory provision. It is not possible to police who uses public toilets in this way without a) everyone carrying their birth certificates or / and b) somebody checking people’s genitals on the way into the toilet. As well as assessing whether you “look like a woman” or “look like a man”. The US law caused an increase in homophobia and transphobia. Some of which was aimed at cisgender, heterosexual women. It was later scrapped as it was unworkable.

Self-ID

We urge the government to listen to the results of the public consultation and continue with reforming the GRA. The argument that self-ID will lead to women being unsafe in single-sex and women only spaces is untrue. Ireland implemented self-ID in 2015, and has seen no increase in violence against women or false gender ID statements. Other countries including: Argentina, Belgium, Malta, Norway and Portugal have also implemented self-ID.

Changing the law to allow people to self-identify – meaning that if you wanted to change your legal gender you wouldn’t have to go through years of expense and trauma, and relying on countless medical professionals – would help so many trans people across the country.

Hate Crime and Discrimination

Trans people are currently amongst those most at risk from hate crime and discrimination. In *2018, 1 in 8 trans people were physically attacked at work by customers or colleagues. 2 in 5 trans people had experienced a hate crime because of their gender identity in the year preceding being surveyed. 64% of trans pupils report being bullied in school for being trans.

Summary Points

  • GRA reform is about obtaining a legal certificate
  • GRA reform has nothing to do with single-sex services
  • Several countries including Ireland, Malta, Belgium and Portugal have self-ID and have had no increase in violence against women or ‘false’ gender-ID statements
  • 70% of the UK public, in a public consultation with 100,00 responses, support GRA reform
  • There is no way to police single-sex spaces, including public toilets, without impacting everyone
  • Trans people are already at an increase risk from hate crime and discrimination

What Trans People Want

Transgender people just want to get on with their lives the same way everybody else does. Self-ID is the way to help to do that, as well as fully funding the NHS and committing to reducing gender clinic waiting times.

Our Director, Cheryl Morgan, said: “As a trans woman I have been using women’s spaces for over 20 years without any trouble. Characterisation of people like me as a danger to women is stressful, harmful and hurtful and will damage many trans people, especially young trans people. We need to be supporting trans and non-binary people not demonising them.”

With thanks

With thanks to Jen Hoskins and Maeve Regan for their contributions to the statement.

Write to you MP

If you would like to write to your MP you can contact them online via https://members.parliament.uk/members/Commons

Email the Prime Minister Boris Johnson

You can email Boris Johnson https://email.number10.gov.uk

National LGBT Survey (2019)

Read the latest research carried out by the UK Government in 2019 on the experiences of LGBT+ people.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-lgbt-survey-summary-report/national-lgbt-survey-summary-report

*Stonewall Hate Crime Report

Read the latest report on hate crime and discrimination from Stonewall.

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/system/files/lgbt_in_britain_hate_crime.pdf

Trans Health & Wellbeing Research Report

Read our report on access to health and wellbeing for trans people.

https://www.diversitytrust.org.uk/research_reports/trans-health-wellbeing-research-report

Trans Awareness Training

Find out how to access trans awareness training for your workplace. Our trans awareness training is delivered by transgender people with both lived and professional training experience.

https://www.diversitytrust.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Trans-Awareness.pdf

Read more…

Read the current government response.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/minister-for-women-and-equalities-liz-truss-sets-out-priorities-to-women-and-equalities-select-committee

Read the latest updates from Mermaids UK.

https://mermaidsuk.org.uk/news/safety-and-dignity/

Read the latest updates from Stonewall UK.

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/about-us/news/why-were-worried-about-government’s-statement-trans-rights-legislation

Read the latest update from the Scottish Trans Alliance.

https://www.scottishtrans.org/scottish-trans-alliance-response-to-todays-sunday-times-front-page/

Read the latest updates from Gendered Intelligence.

http://genderedintelligence.co.uk

Follow the GRA Reform #trusstme campaign https://gra.good.do/trusstme/trusstme/

16 June 2020


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