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Fight for Trans Rights: The Gender Recognition Act

You may remember last month we published an article about the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) and why it needs reforming. With the consultation deadline (Friday 19 October) looming, we are calling for your help to advocate for the rights of trans people.

Just to remind you, the Gender Recognition Act sets out how trans people can legally define their gender. It allows them to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), which will change the sex they were given at birth to the correct marker (M or F). However, as it stands the process is slow, overly bureaucratic, and invasive. The government has called for a consultation, and we need to make sure that the voices of trans people and their concerns are heard. Which is where you, as allies, can help.

We’re asking you to fill out the GRA consultation, based on the needs of trans people across the country, and at Royal Holloway. University is a highly formative place for most young people. For many young trans people, university is a prime environment in which to come out, and for many more, it is a place where they realise that they are in fact trans.

These recommendations are based off information from trans people, Royal Holloway students and representatives, and from a variety of organisations who are in regular contact with trans people, including NUS, Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence, and Mermaids. We’ll take you through some of the main changes that are being called for, so that you can make the most impact possible. Please note that the question phrasing has been paraphrased for brevity.

Our Recommendations

Question 3: Do you think a diagnosis of gender dysphoria should be a requirement for a GRC?

We recommend you answer no. A diagnosis of gender dysphoria can take years to obtain, and relies on a medical framing of what it means to be transgender, which ostracises those without immediate access to gender based healthcare. It is still important however, that anyone interested in obtaining a GRC is fully aware of the situation.

Question 4: Should trans people have to provide details of their medical procedures?

Again, we recommend answering no. We believe that there should be an option to disclose so that the deciding board is fully informed, however it should not count against them should they choose not to disclose this information. Many trans people either choose not to transition medically or are unable to due to medical complications.

Question 5: Should the applicant have to provide evidence of having lived in their acquired gender for over 2 years?

We’d recommend answering no to this question. Providing evidence can often be a long and bureaucratic process, and two years of evidence is viewed as excessive. Choosing a self-determining option would bring us in line with countries like Ireland, Malta, and Norway.

Question 7: Currently, if a trans person is married, they must receive consent from their spouse in order to obtain a GRC. Do you agree with this?

We believe that being married should not be a barrier to any element of transition. Forcing trans people to obtain spousal consent is archaic and outdated. We therefore recommend you answer no to this.

Question 11: Is there anything else you want to tell us about the process of applying for a GRC?

Currently, only over eighteen-year-olds can apply for a GRC. We believe that sixteen and seventeen-year-olds should also be given the opportunity to obtain legal recognition for their gender, and should therefore be able to apply.

Questions 13-18: Do you think single sex services will be affected by the reform?

It has already clearly been stated by the government that single sex services will not be changed as a result of this consultation, as they are protected by the Equalities Act 2010. The answer to this question should therefore be no.

Question 20: Should the GRA accommodate recognition for non-binary individuals?

Non-binary identities are absolutely valid and we believe legal recognition should also be applied to them. We would therefore strongly encourage you to answer yes to this question.

Final Thoughts

We sincerely hope you use this guideline to support trans people at Royal Holloway, and across the country by filling out the Gender Recognition Act consultation. The future of trans folk across the nation depends on the work of allies to ensure that their voices are heard. We need to continuously amplify the voices of those who face discrimination in their lives, and we need to do so with vigour, and with certainty.

Remember, the deadline for filling out the consultation is Friday 19 October.

Fill out the consultation