The Gender Recognition Act – what is it?
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) is the law that governs how trans people can get their gender identity legally recognised – and so have the correct gender marked on their birth certificate and other documents. This law is in urgent need of reform.
The current process, under the GRA, means trans people have to go through a series of intrusive medical assessments and long, demeaning and bureaucratic interviews with psychiatrists in order to ‘prove’ their gender identity. It requires trans people to have a formal diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’, to live in their ‘acquired gender’ for two years, and hand over evidence supporting all of this to a gender recognition panel (composed of clinicians who have never met the applicant) who have the power to approve, or deny, an application.
This recognition process is lengthy – and can take many years. The length of time and the number of professionals who need to be involved puts an unnecessary strain on our NHS. But more importantly, it means that trans people cannot determine their own personal identity.
People who are non-binary (they don’t identify as either male or female) don’t have any legal recognition at all under the current GRA. You also have to be 18 to get recognition of your gender identity under the current law.
The upcoming review of the GRA
In July 2017 the UK Government announced that they would conduct a review of the GRA, with the aim of making the process much more straightforward, less reliant on medical examinations and removing a lot of the red tape that stops many trans people feeling able to get the legal recognition they deserve.
The UK Government is expected to launch a public consultation in 2018. This consultation will be open to everyone to respond who wants to. We want to make sure that trans voices are heard loud and clear, as well as those of non-trans (or ‘cis’) lesbian, gay, bi and straight allies who support trans equality.
In Scotland, gender recognition is a devolved matter. The Scottish Government has announced its own consultation, which you can read about here. Gender recognition is not devolved in Wales.
Stonewall’s view: A Vision for Change
Stonewall’s position is set out in our plan for trans equality – ‘A Vision for Change’. We support a reformed Gender Recognition Act that requires no medical diagnosis or presentation of evidence for trans people to get their identity legally recognised. It is important that the updated legislation recognises non-binary identities, and that it gives all trans people the right to self-determination, through a much simpler and more streamlined administrative process.
Stonewall will support trans communities, and others, to respond to this consultation when it is launched.
To get updates on the GRA review from us, fill in your details below.