Reform of the Gender Recognition Act: EqualiTeach’s Submission

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In July 2018, the government launched a consultation into the Gender Recognition Act 2004, a once-pioneering piece of legislation which outlines the process transgender people must follow to obtain legal recognition of their acquired gender identity and possess a Gender Recognition Certificate. The Act is now outdated, described as ‘bureaucratic and intrusive’, and the consultation will review, amongst other issues, the requirement for people to receive a diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’ and obtain two medical reports as evidence, provide proof that they have lived in their acquired gender identity for a minimum of two years before applying for a  GRC, pay £140 to officially change their legal gender, and to obtain the consent of their spouse if they are married.

EqualiTeach is pleased to add its voice to this important consultation and its stance on many of the issues raised is in accord with the common message expressed by the UK’s leading LGBT charities.

EqualiTeach’s full response to the Gender Recognition Act Consultation can be found here.  

Below is an extract of the response, outlining EqualiTeach’s main arguments and recommendations:

“The right to personal and communal self-determination is fundamental in the move towards trans equality. A requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria pathologises trans identities and echoes the deeply regrettable period of UK history in which LGB identities were legally conceptualised as mental disorders to be ‘cured’ by inhumane medical interventions.

EqualiTeach would encourage the government to learn the lessons of the past and act upon its conviction that being trans ‘is a fact of everyday life and human diversity’ (Minister for Women and Equalities, 2018).

Requiring medical reports of Gender Recognition Act applicants risks privileging the medical and surgical aspects of transitioning over the social and legal dimensions, fostering a culture in which trans individuals are considered ‘more trans’ or ‘more authentically trans’ than trans individuals who have not undergone or who have no intention of undergoing hormonal or surgical treatment. Most trans experiences are not reflected in a ‘medicalised’ view of being trans (Stonewall).

EqualiITeach argues that reducing or removing the two-year requirement for applicants to live in their acquired gender needlessly prolongs applicants’ socio-legal transition and leaves people unnecessarily vulnerable to discrimination. A shift towards a shortened gender recognition process may also ensure that applicants feel more emboldened and supported by the gender recognition process.

In addition, the fee of £140 to apply to a GRC should be reduced and transparently tethered to the cost of reproducing a birth certificate. Trans people should not have to pay for the existence of a gender recognition panel – this should instead be a tax-funded service.

Finally, EqualiTeach believes that the list of plausible situations in which the spousal consent provision could either significantly delay a GRC application, force an applicant into an extremely unpleasant situation or be used by a spouse to entrap, blackmail or abuse a GRC applicant is far too lengthy to be ignored. A watered-down provision requiring a GRC applicant to inform their spouse of their application status risks fewer harmful or abusive situations, it is true, but scenarios in which even the watered-down provision could be weaponised by an abusive spouse are by no means beyond imagining. EqualiTeach does not agree that the encounter between a GRC applicant and their spouse should be subjected to general legislation at all. That encounter is for each couple to work out privately.”

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