Have Your Say: The Gender Recognition Act

The 2004 Gender Recognition At (GRA) set up a process to allow transgender (trans) people “to receive legal recognition of their acquired gender” (Gov.uk, 2018). There are some who would argue that this system has flaws, and so the government is now consulting on reforming the GRA. It is important to note that this is not a proposal to reform the 2010 Equality Act, nor is it questioning the right for trans people to exist. As the consultation’s website states: “Trans and non-binary people are members of our society and should be treated with respect” (Gov.uk, 2018).

To understand whether you believe there needs to be reform, let’s look at what the current process entails.

In order to legally change their gender, a person needs to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate. To do this, one must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have lived for at least 2 years as their “preferred gender”
  • Have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria

Source: BBC News

The proposed changes would include lessening the bureaucracy of the process, in effect removing the medical requirement of determining gender. In short: trans people would be allowed to self-determine their gender.

Looking at different perspectives, we will take the view of Stonewall – a leading LGBT charity in the UK – and the view of feminist group #ManFriday, an anti-self-identification group in the UK.

Stonewall believe in a reformed GRA, and support reformation in the consultation.

“Stonewall supports a reformed Gender Recognition Act that:

  • Requires no medical diagnosis or presentation of evidence for trans people to get their identity legally recognised
  • Recognises non-binary identities
  • Gives all trans people, including 16 – 17-year-olds, the right to self-determination, through a much simpler and more streamlined administrative process”

Source: Stonewall

Stonewall, along with several other groups including the NUS and Amnesty International, back the reform of the GRA as they believe it will aid trans+ people in easily living as their realised gender. These groups believe that the current process – which can take up to 5 years to complete – makes life difficult for trans people, and they disagree with this.

On the other hand, #ManFriday believe that self-identification of gender is a risk to women’s safety.

“Campaigning for the law to change to deny women’s biology and lived experience of sex-based violence, discrimination and indignity is wrong. Campaigning for the law to make women who talk about this experience guilty of a hate crime is misogyny.”

Source: #ManFriday

#ManFriday is a feminist group who “identify” as male on Fridays, to highlight the issues they have with self-ID in the UK. Their concerns in terms of the reformation of the GRA are centred around women’s rights, particularly the exemptions from the 2010 Equality Act that some single sex spaces are entitled to.  They also believe it undermines the identity of being female if people are allowed to self-identify.

The consultation closes October 19th at 11pm. No matter your view, it’s important to give your opinion on this potentially historic reform. By responding to this consultation, you have the chance to influence legislation that will be debated in parliament and potentially turned into law. This allows you to participate in democracy on a level above just turning out to vote in an election.

There is no wrong opinion; just have your voice heard. As young people we deserve our opinions to be represented within politics. To give your views, follow the link below. Further information on the different perspectives can be found in the extra information section below.

Have your voice heard: 

https://consult.education.gov.uk/government-equalities-office/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act/

Extra information:

For reform 

https://www.stonewall.org.uk/gender-recognition-act

https://www.nus.org.uk/en/take-action/liberation-campaigns/gra/

Against Reform 

https://manfridayuk.org/

https://sarahditum.com/2017/07/24/some-thoughts-on-reforms-to-the-gender-recognition-act/

By Eli Hill

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