Reform of the Gender Recognition Act : Response and Guidance

Olivia Thomas, Outreach Officer, TransLeeds

Link to the consultation website:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004

Various organisations have offered guidance on filling out the consultation. I mainly used the Stonewall and NUS guides.

Link to Stonewall Guidance:
https://www.stonewall.org.uk/gender-recognition-act

Link to NUS Guidance:
https://www.nusconnect.org.uk/resources/gra-consultation-guidance-england-and-wales

Section 1 – Your Details

This should be self explanatory. Fill in some brief details about yourself or the organisation you represent. You have to provide an email address to fill in the consultation.

 

Questions 1 and 2 – Experiences of Trans Respondents

Question 1: If you are a trans person, have you previously applied, or are you currently applying, for a Gender Recognition Certificate?

No

If yes, please tell us about your experience of the process. If no, please tell us why you have not applied?:

The current process for applying for a GRC is demeaning, expensive and fails to recognise non-binary people or children. I refuse to submit my gender for adjudication by an anonymous panel. I refuse to submit to a process that doesn’t recognise my non-binary siblings. I refuse to submit to a process that requires psychiatric medical reports in order for my gender to be recognised.

Question 2: If you are a trans person, please tell us what having Gender Recognition Certificate means, or would mean, to you.

Having a gender recognition certificate would mean that my gender is legally recognised. It would alter my day to day life very little as all of my documents – passport, driving licence – accurately state my gender. However it would allow my gender to be updated on my birth certificate and allow my gender to be accurately recognised should I marry in the future.

Questions 3 and 4 – Medical Reports

Question 3: Do you think there should be a requirement in the future for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria?

No

Please explain the reasons for your answer.:

Not all trans people have gender dysphoria, seek treatment for it or are able to get a diagnosis from a recognised clinician. Requiring a diagnosis prevents these people from having their gender legally recognised.

Question 4: Do you also think there should be a requirement for a report detailing treatment received?

No

Please explain the reasons for your answer.:

The medical reports are often difficult or expensive to acquire. For people who have transitioned long ago, transitioned whilst living abroad, or who transitioned without seeking NHS treatment the medical reports may be impossible to attain. Requiring medical reports prevents these people accessing a GRC. Some trans people may not be able to have certain medical treatments due to other health conditions. Some may opt not to undergo certain treatments. There should be no discrimination for people who do not receive medical treatments. The detail of any treatment received should be irrelevant for recognising a person’s gender.

Question 5 – Evidence

Question 5: (A) Do you agree that an applicant should have to provide evidence that they have lived in their acquired gender for a period of time before applying?

No

Please explain the reasons for your answer. :

It may not be possible for trans people to provide evidence of having lived as our acquired gender. Due to discrimination at home or at work some people may not have been able to live in their acquired gender before applying. There is no set criteria for what living as your acquired gender means – especially for non-binary people – so how can it be judged. There is no way to prove a persons gender by how they live. Requiring this would introduce an unnecessary level of gatekeeping into the system.

Documentation such as utility bills or payslips may be hard to obtain from people living in shared accommodation, from young people or those who are out of work. Requiring documentation excludes people from applying especially those people who suffer from financial hardship or live in insecure housing.

(B) If you answered yes to (A), do you think the current evidential options are appropriate, or could they be amended?:

Not Answered

(D) If you answered no to (A), should there be a period of reflection between making the application and being awarded a Gender Recognition Certificate?:

No there should be no period of reflection. Trans people have typically spent much time thinking about coming out and considering the ramifications of doing this. There is no need to subject us to a further delay in the process. There is no delay for reflection when trans people change our gender on passports or driving licences, why should there be one for changing the gender on our birth certificate?

Question 6 – Statutory Declaration

Question 6: (A) Do you think this requirement should be retained, regardless of what other changes are made to the gender recognition system?

No

Please explain the reasons for your answer.:

Statutory declarations carry criminal penalties for fraudulent use. This could hypotetically be used to maliciously prosecute trans people for not “living as their acquired gender.” Even if such prosecutions were very unlikely to happen the implicit threat of criminal prosecution might put trans people off applying. Having a statutory declaration may also limit people from applying for multiple GRCs for example if they originally apply as a binary trans person and later want to apply again as non-binary.

The criminal penalties of statutory declarations are unlikely to put off fraudulent applications but are likely to put off genuine trans applicants.

(C) If you answered no to (A), do you think there should be any other type of safeguard to show seriousness of intent?:

No. Why is there a need for safeguards simply to change the legal gender on a birth certificate? People who are intending to commit crimes by fraudulently changing their gender would not be put off by signing a statutory declaration and in many cases would not need to. Therefore providing additional safeguards offers no protection against fraudulent applications and merely serves to put in place additional barriers to trans people. A simple statement of intent, similar to a deed poll name change should be sufficient.

Question 7 – Spousal Consent

Question 7: The Government is keen to understand more about the spousal consent provisions for married persons in the Gender Recognition Act. Do you agree with the current provisions?

No

Please explain the reasons for your answer. If you think the provisions should change, how do you think they should be altered?:

Requiring spousal consent gives a spouse control over their partner. If a spouse is unhappy with a partner changing their legal gender then they should file for divorce. They should not have the power to prevent a trans person from having their gender legally recognised.

The spousal veto should be removed completely as anything which allows other people to interfere in a trans person having their gender recognised is discrimination.

Question 8 – The Cost of Legal Gender Recognition

Question 8: (A) Do you think the fee should be removed from the process of applying for legal gender recognition?

Yes

(C) What other financial costs do trans individuals face when applying for a gender recognition certificate and what is the impact of these costs?:

There are costs associated with accessing medical reports which are not provided for free by the NHS gender identity clinics. There are costs for solicitors in order to sign the statutory declaration. There are costs associated with collecting the evidence to prove that you have lived in your acquired gender. In total these can add up to several hundred pounds which many trans people are unable to afford.

Question 9 – Privacy and Disclosure of Information (Section 22)

Question 9: Do you think the privacy and disclosure of information provisions in section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act are adequate?

No

If no, how do you think it should be changed? :

Whilst no change in the wording of section 22 is needed there needs to be much more emphasis on upholding the provisions in section 22. Far too many trans people are asked by employers to show their GRC and there have been few prosecutions for breaching section 22. Understanding and enforcement of section 22 provisions needs to be undertaken.

Questions 10 and 11 Impact of Legal Gender Recognition Process (Protected Characteristics)

Question 10: If you are someone who either has, or would want to undergo legal gender transition, and you have one or more of the protected characteristics, which protected characteristics apply to you? You may tick more than one box.

Tick any protected characteristics you have here. Everyone has the characteristic of “age”. It is important to tick this for the answer below.

Please give us more information about how your protected characteristic has affected your views on the GRC application process.:

Currently the GRC application process is not available to under 18s. If I was under 18 today then I would want to change my legal gender. The GRC process should be made available to under 18s.

Question 11: Is there anything you want to tell us about how the current process of applying for a GRC affects those who have a protected characteristic?

Enter your answer below.:

Under 18s are not able to have their gender legally recognised under the current system. 16 and 17 year olds should be able to have their gender recognised under the same process as adults. Under 16s should be able to have their gender recognised with the consent of a parent or guardian.

Disabled people may have problems with the overly bureaucratic process or with accessing medical treatment or evidence. These requirements should be removed to enable disabled people to more easily have their gender legally recognised.

Introduction to Wider Considerations of Impact (Equality Act)

This series of questions appear to have been inserted into the consultation to appease transphobic groups concerned about trans women accessing women’s spaces. Our right to access such spaces is guaranteed under the Equality Act and is not dependent on having a gender recognition certificate. There are no proposed changes to the Equality Act as part of the proposed reform of the Gender Recognition Act.

Question 12 – Impact on Sport (Equality Act)

Question 12: Do you think that the participation of trans people in sport, as governed by the Equality Act 2010, will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?

No

Please give reasons for your answer.:

The Equality Act is separate from the GRA and will not change. Trans peoples’ rights under the Equality Act are not dependent on having a GRC.

Question 13 – Impact on Single-sex and Separate-sex Service (Equality Act)

Question 13: (A) Do you think that the operation of the single-sex and separate-sex service exceptions in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?

No

Please give reasons for your answer.:

The Equality Act is separate from the GRA and will not change. Trans peoples’ rights under the Equality Act are not dependent on having a GRC.

(B) If you provide a single or separate sex service, do you feel confident in interpreting the Equality Act 2010 with regard to these exemptions?

Answer this question if you are respnding on behalf of an organisation that provides single or separate sex services.

(C) If you are a trans person who has experienced domestic abuse or sexual assault, were you able to access support?

If you are a trans person please give details here of any difficulties accessing support.

Question 14 – Impact on Occupational Requirements (Equality Act)

Question 14: Do you think that the operation of the occupational requirement exception in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?

No

Please give reasons for your answer.:

The Equality Act is separate from the GRA and will not change. Trans peoples’ rights under the Equality Act are not dependent on having a GRC.

Question 15 – Impact on Communal Accomodation (Equality Act)

Question 15: Do you think that the operation of the communal accommodation exception in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?

No

Please give reasons for your answer.:

The Equality Act is separate from the GRA and will not change. Trans peoples’ rights under the Equality Act are not dependent on having a GRC.

Question 16 – Impact on the Armed Forces (Equality Act)

Question 16: Do you think that the operation of the armed forces exception as it relates to trans people in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?

No

Please give reasons for your answer.:

The Equality Act is separate from the GRA and will not change. Trans peoples’ rights under the Equality Act are not dependent on having a GRC.

Question 17 – Impact on Authorising or Solemnising Marriages (Equality Act)

Question 17: Do you think that the operation of the marriage exception as it relates to trans people in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?

No

Please give reasons for your answer.:

The Equality Act is separate from the GRA and will not change. Trans peoples’ rights under the Equality Act are not dependent on having a GRC.

Question 18 – Impact on Insurance Operation (Equality Act)

Question 18: Do you think that the operation of the insurance exception as it relates to trans people in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?

No

Please give reasons for your answer.:

The Equality Act is separate from the GRA and will not change. Trans peoples’ rights under the Equality Act are not dependent on having a GRC.

Question 19 – Impact on Other Public Services (beyond the Equality Act)

Question 19: Do you think that changes to the Gender Recognition Act will impact on areas of law and public services other than the Equality Act 2010?

Yes

Please give reasons for your answer. :

Legally recognising non-binary people would require changes to other areas of law. Such changes should be made with respect to achieving equality for non-binary and binary trans people alike.

Question 20 – Non-binary Gender Identities

Question 20: Do you think that there need to be changes to the Gender Recognition Act to accommodate individuals who identify as non-binary?

Yes

If you would like to, please expand more upon your answer.:

Many people already identify as non-binary and increasing numbers are coming out as non-binary. Non-binary genders should be accepted under the law on an equal basis as men and women. It is therefore important that the GRA provides an option for legal recognition for non-binary people.

Question 21: Experiences of Intersex Respondents

Question 21: (A) Do you have a variation in your sex characteristics?

No

(C) What other changes do you think are necessary to the GRA in order to benefit intersex people? :

Intersex people should be able to access a GRC on the same terms as trans people, without the need for medical reports or restrictive evidential requirements

Question 22 – Any further comments?

Question 22: Do you have any further comments about the Gender Recognition Act 2004?

Yes

If you answered yes, please add your comments.:

Reform of the GRA must recognise non-binary people. It must recognise under 18s. It must remove medical and other evidential requirements. To not do so would make any reform unfit for purpose.

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