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Viewpoint: Launch of the government consultation on reforms to the Gender Recognition Act

Published: 03 July 2018 Tags: Gender Recognition Act 2004, reform, consultation By John Walding

In response today’s launch of the government consultation into planned reforms to the Gender Recognition Act 2004, our Trans Advisory Panel tell us what this means to them.

Reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) is potentially massive for trans and non-binary communities. The idea that someone has to prove their gender is ludicrous in itself. When you consider that trans people are asked for such evidence while cis people are not then an obvious double standard is clear.

If done right, GRA reform will do much to remove the stigma experienced by many trans and non-binary people. Reform will put decision making in the hands of those who know best who we are – trans and non-binary people ourselves.

The current GRA reinforces the idea that trans and non-binary people’s right to exist is something which can be open to ‘debate’. In reality, being trans is no more a mental health condition in need of clinical diagnosis than being cis is. We need to move away from the medicalised understanding we currently have.

Current law is outdated. We’ve come pretty far as a community since it was established and the law should be updated to reflect that. This change has the potential to enshrine in law non-binary peoples’ rights to participate in all areas of public life, including equal access to health services and employment.

We are hopeful that GRA reform will remove the indignity, cost and frustrating wait associated with the current process, all issues which an already burdened trans and non-binary community can do without.

It is common sense that a person knows best what their own gender is, and this is increasingly recognised by countries around the world. The idea that in the UK, people must collect evidence in order to persuade a panel of people who they never meet to conclude what their gender ‘really is’ is not only anachronistic but really rather farcical.

If we change the law to allow changes to trans and non-binary people’s birth certificates without the judgement panel, high fees, doctors letters and evidence, the biggest change is that our dignity and rights are respected. We get access to better rights to privacy. We get the comfort of knowing we will not be outed by our death certificates. We know that our future families will be legally recognised. We do not have to worry about what might be turning up in our credit history. It's all those things that most people get to take for granted.

GRA reform is our opportunity to get it right. Not only to follow the excellent examples set by our international neighbours but to lead the way in helping to shape a progressive society with legislation shaped by reason, understanding, fairness and equality.”

LGBT Foundation Trans Advisory Panel and Trans community voices

Joanne Mason, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Sparkle – The National Transgender Charity

Aimee Linfield, Pride in Practice Co-ordinator – Trans Inclusion

Liam, Emery, Alexis- Trans community voices

Please support trans and non-binary people by taking part in the consultation. Download our GRA Resource Pack here.