Ending reciprocal recognition of Gender Recognition Certificates (GRCs) from countries that support trans people changing their legal gender using a self-determination model is a disgraceful low for the UK Government’s approach to LGBTQ+ rights.
This comes as the UK Government considers challenging the Scottish Government’s mandate to implement the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill - a bill that was passed with overwhelming cross-party support from MSPs in December 2022.
Trans people from countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand have had their gender recognition certificates respected by the UK for years. Seeking to end this system is an extraordinary move, not based on evidence or experience, that will effectively serve as a ‘trans travel ban’.
Ending recognition of GRCs from as many as fourteen countries who are our close allies and seeking to block implementation of the Scottish GRR Bill have significant consequences for trans people who are directly affected. But this also sends a message that the UK Government sees trans people as a threat to be contained, not citizens to be respected.
These moves cut against the inclusive values that characterise modern Britain and will actively harm the UK’s international reputation as an open, diverse and dynamic society - one of the reasons why global corporations that proudly support LGBTQ+ rights are attracted to doing business in the UK. They will have significant political consequences in the UK and internationally.
The Census tells us that trans people make up only 0.5% of our population, and trans men and women who can benefit from the Gender Recognition Reform Bill are only 0.2%. Trans people are at high risk of experiencing hate crime, which has been rising precipitately year on year. They wait years and years to get a first appointment with NHS healthcare specialists that can support their transition. Trans children are bullied in our schools, trans adults are bullied in their workplaces with CIPD research showing trans workers are 80% more likely than their cisgender colleagues to feel psychologically unsafe at work.
The UK Government should be focused on developing and implementing a strategy that improves the lives of all LGBTQ+ people, not harming trans people even more. Twenty years on from the repeal of Section 28, the Prime Minister risks re-toxifying his party’s brand by repeating historic mistakes. The Prime Minister should immediately review this course and focus instead on unlocking the potential of LGBTQ+ people across the UK.