Liz Truss confirms Gender Recognition Act reform will have no impact on trans kids’ access to healthcare
Planned reform of the Gender Recognition Act will not affect healthcare for transgender people younger than 18, Liz Truss has confirmed to trans-support charity Mermaids.
In a letter to Mermaids CEO Susie Green, seen by PinkNews, the Conservative minister for women and equalities has for the first time officially confirmed that plans for GRA reform will not impact trans youth.
Truss also repeated that she “will not be rolling back the rights of transgender people in the UK”.
“Everyone, including transgender people, must receive the healthcare and support they need,” Truss wrote in the August 2020 letter.
“I am also committed to ensuring children and young people are able to access appropriate and timely psychological and medical support.”
Commenting on Truss’ letter, Lui Asquith, Mermaids‘ head of policy and legal, said: “GRA reform was never intended to address challenges faced by under-18s. Still, we remained hopeful that young people’s rights would be addressed.”
The GRA, which governs the process by which adult trans men and women gain legal recognition of their gender, has been slated for an update since 2017.
Trans rights campaigners had called for sweeping reforms, including removing the need for trans people to obtain a medical diagnosis before having their gender legally recognised, legal recognition for non-binary trans people, and access to legal gender recognition for under-18s in line with their ability to change the gender marker on other official documents such as passports.
Liz Truss also said in her letter to Mermaids that GRA reform would not expand legal gender recognition to under-18s.
“I do believe that under-18s must be protected from taking decisions which could have an irreversible impact on their development,” the South West Norfolk MP said.
“As you will know, the Gender Recognition Act does not currently enable those under 18 to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate and there are no plans for this to change.”
Healthcare for trans youth outside scope of Gender Recognition Act reform.
The letter from Liz Truss to Mermaids follows months of speculation and toxic debate about Gender Recognition Act reform and its impact on trans youth, their lives and their right to access to life-saving healthcare.
Statements by Truss in the past six months regarding access to healthcare for under-18s had sparked alarm among trans youth and their parents.
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Mermaids' Lui Asquith reiterated that trans people of any age do not need to have their gender legally recognised to access healthcare support.
"Young people rightly already have access to healthcare support without currently having access to the gender recognition process," Asquith said.
"While we are relieved to hear now that the government equalities office has no plans to introduce new barriers of access to trans young people, we had hoped for some positive change.
"As we await substantive news on GRA reform, we call for a new, more accessible gender recognition system which does not pathologise trans people, a de-medicalised system which includes non-binary people, and the removal of the spousal veto which allows husbands, wives and partners to govern another individual’s rights.
"We call for a system, which allows people to be recognised for who they are without being subjected to an oppressive form of gender-policing which continues to impact so many lives, transgender, non-binary and cisgender."
Liz Truss said in July that she would publish the results of the 2018 public consultation on GRA reform and the government's plans for reform "over the summer".
In the UK in 2020, summer ends on 22 September.