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Your Say: Gender Recognition Act Consultation

Gender is a pretty complex topic, and it turns out that the legislation around it isn’t simple either.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) is out for consultation, and you have a chance to shape what it looks like. Just to bring everyone up to speed, the GRA is a piece of legislation that governs how transgender people can have their legally identity recognised – so it’s a pretty important act.

For context, when we’re born, the doctor takes a quick look at us and slaps a big “M” or “F” on our birth certificate. For most people, this is an adequate way to determine our sex or gender. But for others, this can result in years of discomfort and pain. The reality is that doctors don’t always get it right. People’s labels change from one to the other, and sometimes people’s gender identities simply do not fit neatly into either of these boxes.

That’s where the GRA comes in. Transgender people over 18 can apply for a gender recognition certificate which legally recognises their gender and will enable them to update any legal documentation to reflect the correct gender. However, the current process of application is widely considered to be long, costly, and invasive.

This is why the government is conducting a consultation into ways to improve this process, and it’s your chance to have your voices heard.

You have until 19 October to participate in the consultation, and here’s why you should do it:

The Legislation Isn’t Fit For Purpose

The GRA is currently 14 years old, and is woefully outdated. Unlike all other NHS documentation processes, application for a gender recognition certificate can last over three years from start to finish and can cost up to £200. Such simple changes could have a huge effect on the lives of trans people across the country.

It Also Impacts Intersex People

For those who are born intersex, their biological characteristics cannot be easily classified as ‘male’ or ‘female’. This can range from a combination of primary or secondary sex characteristics, hormones, chromosomes, or any other variation. As such, there are intersex people who are almost arbitrarily assigned male or female at birth to fit into gender binary, which can have complications later in their life. For example, it may emerge that their sex was incorrectly assigned, and they will need their gender marker changed.

Trans People Need Allies

Now more than ever, trans individuals and non-binary people need the support of allies to ensure the consultation provides an active reflection of the transgender community’s demands for changes to the GRA. The student movement has been one of the greatest allies to the LGBTQ+ community, therefore by listening to what trans people and trans students are asking for, we’ll all have the opportunity to make meaningful and impactful change.

It’s A Chance To Engage With National Legislation

We want to encourage you to engage with difficult and complex topics on a national level, and this is your chance to do just that in a direct and impactful way. It’s important for all of us to be engaged citizens – politics and governance affects all of us, and we should always strive to be as involved as we can be.

How Should I Fill Out The Consultation?

At a later date, we’ll be publishing a guide for each question on the consultation. But before we do, we want to hear from you. If you are a transgender student, or a student with a vested interest in the GRA, please get in touch with voice@su.rhul.ac.uk to join our student consultation team. Any questions are also welcome!

The consultation can be found here.