The UK government’s response to the petition on allowing trans people to determine their own gender, which received 30,000 signatures. My views in italics:
The gender recognition process in the Gender Recognition Act 2004 was developed as a result of the Government’s commitment to allowing trans people to gain legal recognition in their acquired gender.
No, it was developed because the European Court of Human Rights found the previous law not compliant with European Human Rights.
The Gender Recognition Process
The general procedural requirements for gaining gender recognition were developed as a result of the Government’s commitment to allowing trans people who have taken decisive steps to live fully and permanently in the acquired gender to gain legal recognition in that gender, by establishing a robust and credible process to determine applications for recognition. The provisions are contained the in the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA).
A person’s gender has important legal and social consequences. The state has a legitimate interest in ensuring that people who take on a new legal status can establish that they meet certain criteria. The required statements and evidence are limited to what is necessary to establish that an applicant meets the criteria for recognition.
Actually, gender has increasingly few legal consequences. The ones it does have are often technicalities that serve no real purpose but inconvenience trans people. The Panel appear to be asking for statements and evidence which go far beyond anything set out in the act, e.g. enquiring into people’s reproductive history.
There are no requirements for a trans person to apply for legal recognition; it is entirely a personal decision. Many trans people live and work in their acquired gender without feeling it necessary to apply for legal recognition. However, an application for gender recognition should only be made where a person has made a permanent decision to change their gender.
I’m not sure what they’re trying to say here. They started with “legal recognition is a very serious thing”, now they’re on to “it’s a personal choice”. If you do not have gender recognition there are certain areas where the law may still treat you as your birth gender. These may cause problems, often in situations you haven’t planned for. For example, prisons and death registrations are two areas where not having a GRC may mean your gender isn’t recognised. So while no trans people are forced to get a GRC, those who don’t may be penalised.
The Gender Recognition Panel, a judicial body, determines all applications for gender recognition and an applicant must prove to the satisfaction of the Panel that they meet all the requirements set out in the GRA. The requirements for applicants going via the standard route are that the applicant:
– has or has had gender dysphoria;
– has lived in the acquired gender throughout the two years immediately preceding the date on which the application is made;
– intends to continue to live in the acquired gender until death.
Applicants must also provide medical reports, from:
– a qualified medical professional who works in the field of gender dysphoria giving details of their diagnosis of gender dysphoria; and
– a GP or surgeon, detailing any surgery or treatment that the applicant has undergone to change their sexual characteristics.
In addition, applicants must provide documentary evidence in the form of:
– an original or certified copy of the birth certificate;
– an official change of name document or documents;
– documentary proof the applicant has lived in their acquired gender throughout the preceding two years.
We know all this. That’s what the petition objected to.
If the Panel is satisfied that the applicant meets all the conditions in the GRA they must issue the applicant with a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).
It is quite normal for people to pay for a whole range of services, for example, passports, birth and marriage certificates, drivers’ licences, applications to the civil courts for a variety of issues. Given the cost involved in administering the gender recognition process, applications for gender recognition also carry a fee.
At present, the application fee stands at £140. So as to ensure that nobody is excluded from gaining legal recognition in their acquired gender, remissions and part remissions are available to those who are unable to pay the full fee. Traditionally a large percentage of applicants have been exempt from paying a fee.
True, but disingenuous. £140 is considerably more than you would pay for a passport, birth certificate, driving licence etc. Why? Because those documents are processed as administrative matters – you fill in a form, send in supporting evidence if needed, and if it’s all there, you get your passport. But for the GRC, they get in a panel of lawyers and doctors to sit around and discuss your gender – and I assume they get paid for their time. The petition was wanting to move processing gender recognition much more like processing a passport.
Gender Identity Clinics
Current service provision in England is network-based, shaped around seven adult gender identity clinics, three providers of adult genital reconstruction surgery and one designated provider of gender identity development services for children, adolescents and young people.
Each gender identity clinic delivers services in compliance with contemporary, generic service standards for their discipline that respect the specific needs, values and dignity of transgender people.
In England, people accessing gender identity services have a legal right under the NHS Constitution to be seen within 18 weeks of referral.
Unfortunately, this legal right is not being met. By any of the clinics. This legal right has never been met, since the 18 week right came in. So what are they actually going to do?
Non-binary gender is not recognised in UK law. Under the law of the United Kingdom, individuals are considered by the state to be of the gender that is registered on their birth certificate, either male or female.
Under the Gender Recognition Act, the Gender Recognitions Panel is only able to grant a certificate to enable the applicant to become either male or female. The Panel has no power to issue a certificate indicating a non-binary gender.
The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination if it arises from their being perceived as either male or female. We recognise that a very small number of people consider themselves to be of neither gender. We are not aware that that results in any specific detriment, and it is not Government policy to identify such people for the purpose of issuing non-gender-specific official documents.
There’s an inquiry currently under way, which has received over 230 pieces of written evidence. I rather suspect that this will identify “specific detriment”. The Equality Commission has submitted evidence to that Inquiry saying it thinks the current law should change.