The government has announced plans for a consultation on the legal system that underpins gender transition in the UK.
As it currently stands under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, a person who wishes to make a change to the gender they were assigned at birth needs a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and must provide evidence that they have been in transition for at least two years before they can apply to legally change their gender.
However, critics have claimed that the law is too complicated and focused too strongly on medical transition including surgery. This decision comes after LGBT+ activists and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have challenged Prime Minister Theresa May to simplify the process.
The consultation on the Gender Recognition Act, to be published in the Autumn, will look to improve the recognition process and reduce the stigma faced by the trans community. Proposals will include removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria before being able to apply for gender recognition and proposing options for reducing the length and intrusiveness of the gender recognition system.
Juno Dawson, trans author and Attitude columnist, welcomed the announcement of the consultation. “While it’s actually quite easy to apply for a passport or drivers license as a trans person, getting the gender recognition certificate was seen by many as complicated and intrusive,” Juno said. “More worryingly it led to cases of trans women being sent to men’s prisons and other legal difficulties. Any review is welcome, especially the need for medical diagnosis.
“Hopefully this will make it easier for all trans AND non-binary people to legally change their gender.”
Suzanna Hopwood, a member of the Stonewall Trans Advisory Group, said. “I am really pleased that the Government is making good on its commitment to review the Gender Recognition Act,” she said. “Reform is one of the key priorities in our vision for removing the huge inequalities that trans people face in the UK. The current system is demeaning and broken.
“It’s vital that this reform removes the requirements for medical evidence and an intrusive interview panel, and finally allows all trans people to have their gender legally recognised through a simple administrative process. That’s what we’ll be calling for during this consultation, and I’m looking forward to seeing the law change soon after.”
“The 2004 Act was ground-breaking in giving trans people a way to have their gender legally recognised, but the process is in dire need of reform. We need a simple process which isn’t medicalised, intrusive or demeaning. We would urge the Government to ensure that all trans communities are consulted and to act quickly on their concerns.”
Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall, said that the announcement of the consultation is “hugely encouraging”, and urged for a simplification of the legal process for trans people.
“The 2004 Act was ground-breaking in giving trans people a way to have their gender legally recognised, but the process is in dire need of reform,” she continued. “We need a simple process which isn’t medicalised, intrusive or demeaning. We would urge the Government to ensure that all trans communities are consulted and to act quickly on their concerns.”
The government also announces plans to reduce gay blood donor restrictions ahead of the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales.