So, it’s #TransAwarenessWeek, and the following is a copy of a Twitter thread about what a Gender Recognition Certificate is, why UK trans people want to see the Gender Recognition Act reformed, and my own experiences this week going through this nonesense myself. Also, ways you can help.
The Gender Recognition Act of 2004 was a government created framework for allowing trans people in the UK to update their birth certificates to list their new name and gender, via a Gender Recognition Certificate.
This basically only impacts marriages and death certificates.
To be clear, you do not need a Gender Recognition Certificate to update your ID, passport, bank account, or to be legally protected as your gender. You do not need one to use gendered facilities either. The Equalities Act is a separate thing that protects those rights.
Basically, I need a Gender Recognition certificate if I want to be Laura and Female when I die, and Mrs and Wife when I get married.
Most UK trans people, even those decades into transition, don’t actually have a Gender Recognition Certificate. It’s not out of a lack of desire, it’s because the process of applying for one under the 2004 GRA is deliberately obtuse. It’s expensive, slow, stressful, and shitty.
So, here’s the short version. You have to pay a couple of hundred £ to the government, and sent them a LOT of paperwork evidencing you are trans. Basically, sent them literally every piece of paper with your new name on it you’ve ever had, and anything even vaguely related.
Then, you wait six to eight months for a panel of mysterious strangers to consider your application. This panel of strangers will never meet you. You cannot talk to them, or explain your situation. None of their decision is based on you as a person, just that paperwork.
Here’s where the problems come in. This panel of strangers are not the doctors or therapists who diagnosed you as gender dysphoric after meeting you. They are beaurocrats. They’re ticking off paperwork, and if anything is missing, you’re denied.
You could be a decade into transition, having been on hormones and had surgery, living happilly, established in your gender role, and be declined because while you submitted a letter from the Gender Clinic saying you were trans, it wasn’t the FIRST letter saying that, so denied.
The mysterious panel doesn’t have an obligation to tell you what was wrong with your application when denying it, and it can be for incredibly small and petty beauracratic reasons. Context isn’t considered, did you meet our rigerous paperwork requirements.
Trans people in the UK commonly take YEARS trying to go through this process. Applying, waiting months, getting a rejection, sending more info, waiting months, getting rejected again. It’s a long haul battle.
Comparatively, updating my passport needed a single doctor’s letter.
I have heard stories for years about this process, but I am now finally going through it myself. Yesterday, after eight months waiting, I got rejected because I don’t have the original copy of my surname change deed poll from when my mum remarried when I was three years old.
I can evidence my mum remarried, I can evidence that she changed from my birth surname to my step dad’s surname. I can point to that and say “Look, that’s why my surname changed at that time”, but it’s not the piece of evidence they requested, so changes are they’ll reject it.
This is the problem with the GRA system. I had surgery three years ago. I’ve been on hormones the better part of a decade. I wrote a literal published book for an LGBT publisher, about the fact I am trans.
“Yeah, but that deed poll from the early 90’s though?”
A few years ago, the UK government put out a questionaire, a consultarion on the Gender Recognition Act. Basically, collecting info from the UK public about if this should all be changed. It became a battleground topic.
Terfs suggested that reforming the GRA would allow male pedophiles to enter women’s bathrooms and assault young girls.
It basically became a rallying point around which the Terf movement grew.
GRA reform has ZERO to do with bathroom access.
Terfs built an automated page that would fill in the questionaire with all the TERF answers, you just had to supply your name.
In spite of this, responses were 70-80% in favour of reforming the GRA. Sucess!!!
Or so we thought.
The UK government threw out the results of the consultation. Said they had been skewed by too many trans people submitting their responses.
So, the group changes would impact told you their feelings, so you threw them out?
Roughly 80% of respondants were in favour of removing all these paperwork barriers, making it so trans people no longer had to bear a burden of providing do much evidence of their identity.
Around 80% were in favour of Self ID, where trans folks can simply say “I’m trans, and be believed”.
Liz Truss, the UK’s notoriously anti trans Equalities Minister, announced that at some point in the future, the fee to apply will be smaller, and you’ll be able to submit the forms online, but ZERO reform to the beauracratic mystery panel that decides your fate.
So, how can you help? Well, the Government has started a whole new inquiry into reforming the Gender Recognition act. If you’re in the UK, you can submit evidence and your thoughts, which could help us change this.
In the following tweets, I’m going to discuss the points the inquiry seeks to answer, and my perspective on those topics, to help folks give trans positive answers.
Should people need to evidence two years as their gender before they can apply?
No, transition is often messy and complicated. Long Gender Clinic waiting lists, transphobic home situations, fears of unemployment, can all dely on paper coming out years past knowing you’re trans.
Should the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria be removed?
Yes. Much like coming out as gay, coming out as trans should be demedicalised. You shouldn’t need a medical diagnosis to say “I am trans, please trust that I know myself on this”.
What is your view of the statutory declaration and should any changes have been made to it?
While Statutory Declaration (Saying “I’m trans, and will be forever”) makes sense for some binary trans folks, it can be really limiting for less binary identities, and is unecessarry.
If the government want to ensure GRA is not abused, put a limit on changes of something like once per year or similar, a lifetime commitment requirement is based on a very narrow view of what being trans means.
Does the Spusal Veto need reforming?
YES! Right now, if you are married, and want to transition, your spouse can veto your GRA application. UK doesn’t have no fault divorce, and divorce can take a long time if disputed. A spouse should not be able to veto your transition.
Why is the number of people applying for GRCs so low compared to the number of people identifying as transgender?
Because, as explained in this thread, the process is way too beauracratic, and years of getting denied over paperwork is exhausting and depressing.
What issues do trans people have in accessing support services, including health and social care services, domestic violence and sexual violence services?
Terfs have interpreted the Equalities Act’s language to mean “trans women can be refused from women’s spaces with reason”. This has basically created this media viewpoint that trans women should be banned from women;s spaces.
Are legal reforms needed to better support the rights of gender-fluid and non-binary people? If so, how?
Yes. Give us legal recognition for non binary people on official paperwork, and protect them under the law.
Change the GRA process to allow folks who may not not medically transition to still get a GRA, they’re still valid trans and NB people. Allow them to navigate this system, not just post surgery binrary trans folks.
This new GRA Reform Inquiry is only going on until You can submit evidence until Friday 27 November. Please, if you are based in the UK and have made it this far in this thread, consider giving your thoughts.
Trans People in the UK need your help. We need Allys right now.