Explained: 2018 Gender Recognition Act Consultation

Thu, October 25, 2018

Did you know? That when the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) came into effect, the UK became the first country in the world to allow a person to legally alter their gender without having any surgical treatment.

The Gender Recognition Act sets out the legal process by which a person can change their gender. The Government Equalities Office sought to ensure that the legal gender recognition process worked well. Since the GRA came into force, only 4,910 people have legally changed their gender and been issued with a Gender Recognition Certificate.  Given these figures and the concerning suicide and self-harm rates amongst the trans community, the issues are now being revisited by Government.

As law currently stands, for a person to legally change their gender, the person must be over 18 years old and must usually meet the following “assessment based” requirements of the GRA. The following 6 tests must be passed:

  1. A medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and a report from a medical professional detailing any medical treatment;
  2. Proof of having lived for at least two years in their acquired gender through, for example, bank statements, payslips and a passport (which can be changed without legally changing gender);
  3. A statutory declaration that they intend to live in the acquired gender until death;
  4. If married, the consent of their spouse;
  5. Payment of a fee of £140 (or proof of low income for reduction/removal of the fee);
  6. Submission of this documentation to a Gender Recognition Panel, which the applicant does not meet in person.

Each case is considered by a Gender Recognition Panel to have satisfactorily met the requirements. Is satisfied, the person is issued with a Gender Recognition Certificate which alters their birth certificate and (subject to a number of limitations) changes their birth gender to their newly-recognised gender. That person then assumes the legal rights of that gender, including: age of retirement, pension and marital rights.

However, if a person is viewed by the Gender Recognition Panel to have not met the requirements, they have to continue as the same gender as to which they were born. They are not allowed the right to appeal the decision, unless on a point of law.

It is argued that the law as it stands inhibits trans people from legally changing their gender on the basis that the law does not seem fair. How it can be considered fair that an independent panel is able make such fundamental decisions regarding a person’s life without having actually met them?

LGBT Great will continue to bring you progress updates on the outcome of the Consultation.

You can also register for our Bitesize Learning session to mark trans awareness week on Friday 16th November. CLICK HERE

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