Ekt is 17 jaar sedert die Wet op Geslagserkenning in die VK uitgevaardig is, bejaardes toelaat 18 om hul verworwe geslag wetlik erken en op 'n nuwe geboortesertifikaat aangeteken te kry, as long as certain criteria are met. Egter, for many transgender people the process is outdated, intrusive and bureaucratic.
In order for an individual to have their acquired gender recognised, a person has to prove to a panel of strangers that they will never meet – the gender recognition panel – that they are either feminine or masculine. It has caused a great deal of concern in the transgender community that the panel, in effect, sits in judgment upon them and their transition. Who is anyone to decide whether someone is feminine or masculine enough? Gender identity is no longer as rigid as it once was, thank goodness. Women wear trousers. Some of us choose to eschew makeup altogether, others only on some days. Hair can be long, or short, or shaved off. But there is no way of knowing whether the panel is making judgments based on outdated stereotypes because it is devoid of transparency.
Those wishing to transition also require a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria – a mental health condition, effectively giving the view that being transgender is an illness. They also have to live in their acquired gender for two years (something they need spousal consent for), a pretty arbitrary period of time, and again, upholding stereotypical views of what it is to live as a woman or a man.
In 'n verslag doen published this week, the women and equalities select committee is calling for the requirements to be updated, pretty much in line with the extensive consultation carried out, but not acted on, by the government more than two years ago. This would mean replacing the gender recognition panel, dropping the requirement to have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and to live in the acquired gender for two years. Gaining a gender recognition certificate would still require a formal statutory declaration – a safeguard that ensures “genuine intent”, and possibly other legal safeguards, but the process would be respectful and accessible.
We spent months speaking to trans rights and women’s rights groups and sought to strike a path that safeguarded the rights of both. They are not zero sum – both can be supported. As the chair of the committee, I spent Tuesday on broadcast media discussing our recommendations. I understand this is a highly contentious issue, with very polarised views, but the correspondence I have received in my inbox over the following 24 hours suggests that the most determined correspondents have not read a word of the report.
The most common objection people have raised is the issue that any changes to the GRA would make it easier for men to legally change their gender, access women’s spaces and pose a serious threat to their safety.
First and foremost, even with our proposed reforms, the process for an individual to have their acquired gender legally recognised is a drawn-out process, with numerous stages to go through. Waiting lists are incredibly long for NHS consultations, and I can think of my own constituents who have waited years for just a referral to one of the very few clinics, before having given up and paid for private treatment they could ill afford. The suggestion that someone could change legal sex on a whim is quite patently nonsense; the process takes years.
Die new clinics announced last year were of course welcome, but they had already been commissioned by NHS England and, at only three, are a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed.
Tweedens, we have specifically called for single-sex exceptions to be not only upheld but clarified. We have asked the Government Equalities Office and the Equality and Human Rights Commission not only to improve their guidance for female-only spaces, such as refuges, but to use worked examples, so that there can be no doubt about the right of service providers to restrict use to natal women only. There should also be best practice to provide trans and non-binary inclusive and specific services, including those relating to domestic violence and sexual abuse. Sometimes it will be appropriate to provide exclusive spaces. Those that argue I am against this are plain wrong.
I urge those currently directing the bile and abuse I have received on this issue to read our report in full. Uiteindelik, the current process is clunky, time consuming and, in many cases, those going through it find it downright cruel. All I have ever sought is to make the GRA kinder, quicker and much more understanding of the needs of transgender people and the concerns of women’s rights groups. Is that so bad? From my email inbox you would have thought so, but I don’t.