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LGBT Foundation response: UK Government Trans Equality Enquiry

Published: 08 July 2016 Tags: legal, GRA, lgbt By John Walding

LGBT Foundation welcome the work that has been undertaken by all to investigate the legal and institutional complexities surrounding healthcare, education, legislative and the legal issues effecting trans people across the UK and we are encouraged that there is now a greater understanding of the issues facing trans people in Britain today.

There have been some significant developments recommended by the Women and Equalities Select Committee in the landmark inquiry into trans equality.As part of a government review of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act a parliamentary committee report in January found Britain had “a long way to go” to ensure equality for transgender people. This work has now begun.

We were pleased by the way in which the Women and Equalities Committee's report on trans eqaulity called for significant change across a broad range of issues.

Chair of the Committee Maria Miller stated that the committee 'will now consider the Government's proposals for further action' and that they 'look forward to more detailed discussions with Ministers soon'.

The Government response does provide some welcome commitments to undertake further reviews and other work, particularly in relation to the legal recognition of non-binary identities, the revision of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, and the acknowledgment that significant action is required to improve healthcare for trans people. However there is clearly much work still do.

Legal processes for registering a change of gender should be less distressing for trans people . One of the reports key recommendations was to move the gender registration process away from identifying a persons gender purely from a medical point of view towards self-declaration of gender status.The aim of the review is to determine whether changes can be made to de-medicalise and streamline the process.The government want to see more evidence on the case for change and the implications and will be monitoring implementation of alternative gender recognition processes in other jurisdictions to inform this work - with regard to age, self-declaration and extending legal recognition to non-binary people. We believe that such changes are much needed and will hopefully mean that trans people will not be expected to always have to have major surgery or medical interventions before they can legally change their gender. We hope that some kind of a self-declaration scheme will enable trans people to avoid the many stresses and humiliations involved with currently having to convince doctors and psychiatrists of their true gender identity before any documentation is formally changed.

Being trans will no longer be considered as a mental illness by public bodies such as the NHS. The acknowledgement that gender dysphoria is not a mental illness is to be welcomed as a major step forward and is long overdue.

Recognition of non-binary identities. Increased awareness of employers and service providers of non-binary gender identities is something that has begun through new guidance published at the end of last year.The NHS have also committed to incorporating the needs of non-binary people .Giving non-binary identities legal recognition would be a much needed next step to make life for non-binary people easier and hopefully help to raise awareness about what it means to be a non-binary person.

Improved training for NHS staff in gender identity services. There is a huge need to review how the NHS supports trans people in all of its services. The news that NHS staff in gender identity services will receive more and improved training to facilitate better treatment for transgender people reflects a long standing issue in need of urgent attention.

Gender information on official documents to be reviewed. This includes trans people no longer having to provide medical proof to change their gender on their passport, this could also enable many other positive decisions to be made that could help to reflect people’s gender across Britain.

Finding out the real needs and lived experiences of trans people in Britain – A major national survey could help to find more accurate numbers in relation to the number of trans people in the population. This would also help add to the ongoing development of an increasing evidence base around the needs and experiences of trans people and work to ensure that there is better representation of our trans communities.

Tackling transphobic bullying in higher education. Transphobic hate crimes continue to rise in the UK and tackling transphobic hate along with homophobic hate crime must remain a priority across all sectors of society.

The British Social Attitudes Survey will include questions about people's attitudes towards trans people . We know that changing legislation is hugely important but understanding and changing people’s attitudes towards trans people and promoting tolerance and acceptance is also a much needed priority.

In conclusion: Much work is still needed to ensure that all trans and non-binary people are clearly protected under the Equality Act. The government’s position is that the Equality Act does currently protect wider categories of trans people, beyond those undergoing gender reassignment. However, we feel that this needs to be made more explicit. We look forward to continuing our work with stakeholders across government, the public, private and voluntary sectors and crucially the LGBT community, to achieve full equality for all trans people.

Further Information (please click on the links below)

LGBT Foundation's response to the Transgender Equality Inquiry report published in January

Women and Equalities Committee - Transgender Equality Inquiry

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