Gender recognition “should come closer to a self-declaration system”
Transgender people shouldn’t have to live in their acquired gender for two years before they can gain legal recognition, as this “entrenched outdated gender stereotypes,” MEPs warned.
A new report from the Women and Equality Committee calls for the process to “come close to a system of self-declaration” which involves strong legal guarantees but not a medical examination.
Trans people should no longer be required to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria in order for their gender to be legally recognized with a gender recognition certificate, he says.
But they should still be required to make a formal statutory declaration – a guarantee that guarantees “real intention” – and “solid guidelines” are needed on how this would work in practice.
The committee calls on the Government Equality Office (GEO) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to urgently produce guidance, including practical examples, on how to apply the exceptions for one sex under the Equality Act.
He notes that some service providers, such as women’s shelters, “do not know whether excluding trans people from certain spaces is against the law.”
And he calls on the two organizations to work with trans rights groups to produce advice on how best to provide inclusive and trans-specific and non-binary services, especially those related to domestic violence and sexual abuse.
In July 2018, the Government Office for Equality (GEO) launched a consultation on the reform of the 2004 law on gender recognition and, in September 2020, defined the measures to be taken.
These included making the process available online, reducing the certificate fee from Â£ 140 to Â£ 5 and opening three new gender clinics that year to reduce waiting lists.
The following month, the Women and Equality Committee launched its inquiry into whether the government’s proposals were sufficient, receiving more than 800 written evidence as well as oral testimony.
Its report, Reform Of The Gender Recognition Act, notes that the debate in this area has “at times become extremely toxic”, with many stakeholders disagreeing.
But he says there are areas of agreement between some, such as removing the requirement to live in vested sex for two years, which the government should enact “immediately”.
Committee chair, Conservative MP Caroline Nokes, said the government’s response to the 2018 consultation “amounted to little more than administrative changes.”
She said: âThe GRA is crying out for modernization and the government has spectacularly missed its opportunity.
âThis is an area of ââreform that has sparked strong opinions and debate, but there are areas – such as removing a period of time to live in an acquired genre – that many can agree on.
âThe government’s failure to implement even these changes – clearly indicated in its consultation – suggests its unwillingness to engage.
âBeing trans is not an illness. It is imperative that the government demedicalize the gender recognition process by removing the outdated requirement for a gender dysphoria diagnosis.
MEPs also criticize GEO and EHRC for their “negligible” involvement in the investigation and the “inexcusable” refusal of GEO ministers to attend.
In addition, the report asks:
– Removal of the requirement for the consent of the spouse.
– A review to determine if the Gender Recognition Panel could be replaced by the Registrar General.
– GEO and the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs will develop a healthcare strategy for transgender and non-binary people over the next year.
– Better support for young people in transition, in particular support in mental health.
– The government is committed to continuing to implement the LGBT action plan, despite concerns that it appears to have been âabandonedâ.
– The government must update the language in all official documents and laws that amalgamate the terms âsexâ and âgenderâ.
Labor Party Secretary for Women and Equalities MP Anneliese Dodds said there had been a “complete lack of action” on the part of the government to address the issues raised in the report, and blamed the conservatives for “failing LGBT + people”.
She said: “Labor would update the Gender Recognition Act to allow a self-identification process while continuing to support the implementation of the Equality Act, including the exemption for the only sex. “
A spokesperson for the Government Equality Hub said: âThe government believes that the current provisions of the Gender Recognition Act are effective and allow those who wish to legally change their sex to do so.
âWe have listened to those who responded to the GRA consultation and are taking steps to modernize the way individuals can apply for a gender recognition certificate, including reducing costs and moving the process online.â
An EHRC spokesperson said: âOur guidance for service providers on unisex spaces will be released in January.
âWe engage regularly with the Women and Equality Committee and last appeared before them in October.
âWe are reviewing the committee’s other recommendations and will respond to them in due course. “