Have you yet come across Gender Recognition Act? According to Stonewall, fewer than one in ten trans persons in the UK have legal recognition of their gender. Which means they are unable to change their sex on their birth certificate or legal records.
This can lead to a slew of administrative and legal issues in a variety of areas of their lives. Including when and how to marry, pay taxes, receive pensions, and be buried.
The Gender Recognition Act (2004) makes it difficult to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC)- to the point where fewer than 5,000 persons had received one by 2018.
As a result, campaigners have pushed to change the Act. And make it easier for trans persons to navigate the system.
More information about the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) and the proposed changes in Scotland is here.
What is the Gender Recognition Act and how does it work?
The GRA determines how trans people can have their gender identity recognized at the moment.
It states that to confirm their gender identification, trans persons must undergo a series of medical tests and psychological interviews.
Trans people must also have an official diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Which is a word that refers to a feeling of disquiet or discomfort caused by a mismatch between a person’s biological sex and their gender identity.
Trans persons must also live in their “acquired gender” for two years. And submit evidence proving this to a gender recognition panel, made up of medical and legal specialists who have rarely met the applicant before.
The panel will either approve or deny an application after considering the facts.
If the applicant is married, the spouse’s approval is also required before an application can be granted. If the applicant’s spouse refuses to consent, an Interim GRC will be provided.
Applicants must also be over the age of 18.
The entire procedure can take up to five years.
What modifications to the Gender Recognition Act are being proposed?
The UK currently has some of Europe’s most restrictive gender recognition processes.
For example, in recent several years, nations such as Portugal, Ireland, and Norway have implemented laws allowing trans persons to receive legal recognition of their gender only through self-determination.
Campaigners in the United Kingdom believe that the lengthy process of obtaining a GRC places an undue load on the NHS because it needs several practitioners’ involvement and too many invasive medical examinations.
The Scottish government initiated a formal review of the GRA in November 2017 “to ensure that it is in line with international best practices.”
The GRA (2004) is “out of date,” according to the Ministerial Foreword to the study. And imposes “intrusive and onerous” requirements on the applicant.
As a result, the Scottish government has proposed abolishing the requirement to submit medical evidence and proof of two years of living in the ‘acquired gender before applying.
In 2018, over 100,000 people responded to a public consultation launched across the UK.
It found that 64 percent of those who participated wanted to remove the requirement for a gender dysphoria diagnosis. And 79 percent wanted to remove the requirement for individuals to provide evidence of having lived in their ‘acquired gender’ for some time.
The GRA didn’t change as a result of these findings, that had released in September 2020.
The government did agree to make some minor administrative changes to the legal recognition procedure. This includes lowering the application price to a modest £5 and shifting the process online.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission called this “a missed opportunity to simplify the law on gender recognition whilst maintaining robust safeguards.”
However, in December 2019, the Scottish Government published a draft law to amend the GRA, along with public consultation.