What you can do

Gender Recognition Act

This summer, we have a rare opportunity to improve trans rights. Come Out For Trans Equality and have your say on reforming the Gender Recognition Act.

This summer, we have a rare opportunity to improve trans rights. Come Out For Trans Equality and have your say on reforming the Gender Recognition Act.

What’s wrong with the Gender Recognition Act?

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) governs how trans people can have their identity legally recognised. This was groundbreaking in its time – it’s now seriously out of date and needs reform.

At the moment, trans people have to endure a long and demeaning process to ‘prove’ their gender identity. It’s not just distressing, it’s complex, costly and inaccessible to many trans people.

Stonewall supports a reformed Gender Recognition Act that:

  • Requires no medical diagnosis or presentation of evidence for trans people to get their identity legally recognised
  • Recognises non-binary identities
  • Gives all trans people, including 16 – 17-year-olds, the right to self-determination, through a much simpler and more streamlined administrative process

The current process, under the GRA, means trans people have to go through a series of intrusive medical assessments and long, demeaning 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.

In Scotland, gender recognition is a devolved matter. The Scottish Government has already held its own consultation.

Read common questions about trans people, their experiences and myths and misconceptions from the media.



A consultation is a process for the Government to gather feedback on proposed changes to the law, whether changes to an existing law or introducing a new law.

The Government outlines the changes they propose and ask questions to help structure the feedback

On 3 July 2018, the Government launched a public consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act (2004). The consultation will last for 16 weeks, so there’s plenty of time to think about your answers.

This consultation process is a really important way for the communities any new laws affect to have a say, and make sure that the Government knows what they need. Consultations give the people who know best – you! – the chance to influence policy even before MPs get to debate a new law (or Bill) in Parliament.

When all the evidence has been gathered, the Government usually issues a response. They say how they’ve taken what’s been said in the responses into account, and what their next steps are going to be.

Thousands of people responded to Scotland’s consultation on the Gender Recognition Act. We expect the same in England and Wales.

Opposing voices will be loud, spreading myths and misinformation. We need to make sure the voices calling for equality and respect win out.


Hear from trans people

How can I speak out for trans rights?

If we speak out together now, we can push for the law to change.


The consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act gives us all a chance to speak up for trans rights. Trans people’s voices must be front and centre, but you don’t have to be trans or an ‘expert’ to respond. Progress on trans equality is crucial to progress on LGBT equality. That’s why we all need to show our support.

There are 21 questions in the full consultation. We’ve shared some tips for responding to seven of the questions that are most critical to the priorities for reform set out in A Vision For Change.


Question 2: If you are a trans person, please tell us what having a Gender Recognition Certificate means or would mean to you?

You only need to fill this in if you are trans or non-binary.

You can use this question to explain any difficulties you have faced without a Gender Recognition Certificate, the difference that legal recognition would make to you in affirming your identity and going about your life, or to comment on anything about the current process which may have put you off applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate.


Question 3: Do you think there should be a requirement in the future for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria? Please answer YES or NO. Please explain the reasons for your answer.

Anyone can answer this question.

The current process to get a Gender Recognition Certificate is long, complicated, costly and medicalised. A diagnosis of gender dysphoria positions being trans as a medical condition, which is dehumanising and demeaning and puts many trans people off applying. That's why we would answer NO to this question.


Question 4: Do you also think there should be a requirement for a report detailing treatment received? Please answer YES or NO. Please explain the reasons for your answer.

Anyone can answer this question.

Requiring medical treatment reports as part of the process of applying for a Gender Recognition Act reinforces a medicalised view of being trans, which does not reflect most trans people’s experience. It should not be up to a medical professional to decide whether someone is ‘trans enough’. It is another intrusive and dehumanising factor about the current process that puts people off applying. That’s why we would answer NO to this question.


Question 5: 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? Please answer YES or NO. Please explain the reasons for your answer.

Anyone can answer this question.

Currently trans people have to provide evidence of living in their ‘acquired gender’ for two years as part of the process for applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate. It is another example of trans people having to prove that they are ‘trans enough’, which is dehumanising and puts trans people off applying. That's why we would answer NO to this question.

Instead, we would like to see a simple administrative process based on self-determination in line with best practice in other countries, such as Ireland, Malta, Argentina and Norway. With self-determination, a trans person does not need to be diagnosed with a medical condition or prove themselves as ‘trans enough’.


Question 7: The Government is keen to understand more about the spousal consent provisions for married persons in the GRA. Do you agree with the current provisions? Please answer YES or NO. Please explain the reasons for your answer.

Anyone can answer this question.

If a trans person is married, the current law allows their spouse to block their application for gender recognition. This denies trans people in this situation the right to determine their own gender identity. That's why we would answer NO to this question.

Instead, we would like to see a system that enables a trans person to get a gender recognition certificate without needing the permission of their spouse.


Question 11: Is there anything you want to tell us about how the current process of applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate affects those who have a protected characteristic?

Anyone can answer this question.

There are nine 'protected characteristics' – including age, disability, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and sexual orientation – which are listed in the Equality Act 2010. This Act protects people from being discriminated against on the basis of any of these characteristics.

This question allows anyone to explain how the current gender recognition process impacts on them because of other parts of their identity.

We're urging people to use this question to raise the issue that trans people aged under 18 cannot apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate.

Trans young people and their parents say this can be incredibly damaging, leading to young people being outed or mis-gendered. We believe 16 and 17 year-olds should have the same access to recognition, helping those starting full-time work or further education in their true gender. And we want to see a recognition process for under-16s incorporating parental consent.

We recommend young trans people and their families share their experiences of the barriers currently faced due to this lack of recognition.


Question 20: Currently, UK law does not recognise any gender other than male or female. Do you think that there need to be changes to the Gender Recognition Act to accommodate individuals who identify as non-binary? Please answer YES or NO. If you would like to, please expand on your answer.

Anyone can answer this question.

Currently you can only be legally recognised as male or female. This does not work for non-binary people. This means a large group of people face inequalities and discrimination because their identity is not recognised in law. That's why we would answer YES to this question.

Instead, we would like to see legal recognition for non-binary people.


Come out for trans equality. Sign up to help us campaign for trans people.

* indicates required

By providing your phone number, you are consenting to Stonewall contacting you by phone about our work, campaigns and ways you can support us further. If you'd prefer not to hear from us by phone please tick the box below:

We’d love to keep in touch about our work, campaigns and ways you can support us further by SMS. Please tick below to let us know if you’re happy to be contacted by SMS: