The UK's Gender Recognition Laws Are Failing People & You Can Help Change Them

photographed by Stephanie Gonot.
The government is currently consulting on new rights for trans (including non-binary) and intersex people, in a move that could be a major step towards trans rights and equality in the UK, and we can all help to ensure a favourable outcome in just a few minutes.
Members of the public have until 11pm on Friday 19th October – that's just one week – to suggest improvements to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA), a once-groundbreaking piece of LGBT equality legislation that allowed people with gender dysphoria to change their legal gender. In 2018, however, it's been widely deemed outdated.
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To self-determine their gender under the act, trans people must go through a highly medicalised, drawn out process (it can take years) to "prove" they're trans "enough", involving psychiatric interviews, medical assessments and paying a £140 application fee. You also have to show you've lived in your "acquired gender" for at least two years.
But that's not all – the applicant's fate then lies in the hands of a panel of clinicians, whom they'll never have met, who decide, based on the submitted evidence, whether or not the applicant has the right to self-determine their gender. Even worse, if you're married, your spouse has to give permission and if you're non-binary, you're overlooked by the law completely.
It's no surprise, then, that the LGBTQ+ community, campaigners and innumerable members of the public are calling on the government to update the law and give trans people the right to self-determine their gender.
LGBT equality charity Stonewall is urging people to submit their views to the government about how best to reform the GRA before next Friday's deadline. It takes just minutes to have your say and there are only 22 questions to answer.
How to get involved
Stonewall has a simple form on its website and the charity wants everyone – regardless of gender identity – to use their own words and experiences in calling for change to the GRA. Questions include: "Do you think there should be a requirement in the future for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria?" and "Do you agree that an applicant should have to provide evidence that they have lived in their acquired gender for a period of time before applying?"
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Stonewall includes its own recommended answers to those questions, while the human rights organisation Amnesty International has its own list of recommended answers if you'd like a broader perspective of the issues at hand before filling out the form.
The push to contribute to the GRA consultation comes just days after the campaign group Fair Play for Women took out a full-page ad in the free Metro newspaper, which has been dubbed by critics as anti-trans propaganda. The group wants people to "Say NO to Self ID, Say YES to common sense", with the hashtag #ChooseReality. Could there be a better example of why trans rights need bolstering in the UK?
VICE are running sessions in London where you can fill in the Gender Recognition Act consultation. Details here.
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