Ministers have rejected calls to make it easier for trans, non binary and gender diverse people to self-identify by reforming the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004.
The long-delayed decision comes despite the result of a 2018 consultation which received the majority of its responses in support for reforming the Act. Including 4 in 5 responses in favour of removing the requirement to provide a medical report detailing all of the treatment a person has received and 64% of the 102,818 respondents stating that there should be no requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria to change an individual’s birth certificate.
A written ministerial statement published on 23rd September 2020 said that it sought to make the process of applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) “kinder and more straightforward”. Based on responses to the consultation highlighting that the process to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) was too bureaucratic and expensive, it said the Government would “place the whole procedure online” and reduce the fee from £140 to a “nominal amount”.
The statement also highlighted that it would improve healthcare services for trans people by opening “at least” three new Gender Identity Clinics (GICs) this year, which the Government hopes will see waiting lists reduced by around 1,600 by 2022.
However, despite significant support in the consultation and a call to the Government last week from the British Medical Association to allow trans and non binary people to be recognised for who they are without a medical diagnosis, the statement said that gender recognition reform was “not the top priority for transgender people”
The news has been met with anger and distress by LGBT+ groups and was described by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in a statement on twitter as a “missed opportunity to simplify the law on gender recognition whilst maintaining robust safeguards.”
In a statement regarding the news, Lewis Collins, Chair of the LCR Pride Foundation said:
“The decision to not reform the Gender Recognition Act is another in a long-line of failings and missed opportunities to provide support for our trans, non-binary and gender diverse community.
“Improvements to the administration and cost of obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) is of course welcomed, as are improvements in accessing healthcare, but these should not be seen as a one-or-other solution to be prioritised where the ones at the bottom of the list get forgotten about.
“The results of the Government consultation were clear, reforming the GRA was supported. By ignoring the results and offering an alternative that quite frankly, does not go far enough, sends one message – that the community is still not being listened to. This is despite the evidence of success stories from other countries and support from medical bodies for the reforms that were originally promised.
“Our trans, non-binary and gender diverse communities are already more likley to suffer from mental health issues, hate crimes and discrimination as a result of a long history of being failed, let-down and othered by society and from those with the power to make their lives easier simply choosing not to”
“We continue to stand in solidarity with our trans, non-binary and gender diverse siblings. Whilst this is a blow to the hard work and campaigning of many, it will only make us more determined to continue to fight for change and for everyone’s right to live freely as themselves and identify as they wish, without discrimination, prejudice or fear.”