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An open letter from PinkNews: The trans community needs you

PinkNews Staff Writer October 20, 2018
A trans rights placard – the government has said it will announce its response to the gender recognition act in "Spring next year"

Trans rights placard at PinkNews Awards. (Paul Grace)

On Friday, the British government extended its deadline for the public consultation on the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to Monday, October 22, at 12pm.

On behalf of everyone at PinkNews—the cisgender, the straight, the gay, the bisexual, the lesbian, the non-binary and trans—we urge you to act now. Our trans community in Britain needs your help.

Since Prime Minister Theresa May affirmed plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act, making it easier for trans people to legally change their gender, at the 2017 PinkNews Awards a year ago, the public discourse around trans rights has become muddied and, regrettably, toxic.

So-called campaigners have mobilised to paint an insidious picture of trans women over the last year, spreading misinformation in an almost Trumpian way. Please do not be fooled.

Here are the facts:

  • Trans people in Britain are issued Gender Recognition Certificates, legally acknowledging that their gender has changed. The GRC replaces a birth certificate.
  • Currently, to receive a Gender Recognition Certificate, a trans person must have lived as their true gender for two years, be diagnosed with gender dysphoria by a doctor, be approved by a panel of medical experts, and pay £140 for the documentation.
  • Trans people do not need to undergo transition surgery in order to obtain a GRC.
  • Reforms to the Gender Recognition Act would eliminate the lengthy medical process for trans people to be legally recognised as their true gender. As Theresa May said at the PinkNews Awards last year, “being trans is not an illness and shouldn’t be treated as such.”
  • Trans people in Britain can already use public facilities, including toilets and changing rooms, that correspond to their gender without obstruction. They do not need a Gender Recognition Certificate, or to undergo transition surgery, to do so.
  • Under the Equality Act 2010, transgender people are protected from discrimination. A trans person’s gender is a protected characteristic. They do not need a Gender Recognition Certificate, or to undergo transition surgery, to be protected.

In effect, trans people can already self-identify as their true gender and access the spaces they want to—and they are protected from discrimination.

The proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act would just make it easier for them to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate. The GRC can then be used as a form of ID to help them obtain a new passport with the right gender on it, for example.

The current climate of misinformation belies much of the above information. So-called campaigners—claiming to advocate for women’s rights—say that changes to the Gender Recognition Act will put female-only spaces, like shelters and public toilets, in danger from predatory men abusing the system of self-identification to gain access to them.

In countries where self-identifying to legally change your gender is already the norm—like Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Colombia and Belgium—there have not been any known cases of the process being abused.

What is being abused, however, is the consultation process on the Gender Recognition Act. It is being hijacked by a vocal minority of extremists who are fear-mongering about the trans community and actively trying to deny people vital rights.

According to Stonewall, there are an estimated 600,000 trans people in the UK. But, since 2004, only 5,000 people have been granted a Gender Recognition Certificate.

That means there are hundreds of thousands of people across the country having to go through the indignity of something as simple as showing a passport that has the wrong gender on it, because the process of obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate is so complex. In a fair and equal society, we all deserve the rights that allow us to live our authentic lives.

Please support the trans community by filling out the Gender Recognition Act consultation by Monday at 12pm.

For guidance, visit Stonewall’s campaign, Come Out for Trans Equality.

Trans women are women. Trans people are people. All human life is human life.

Sincerely,

The PinkNews team

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