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Tens of thousands plead with government to reform Gender Recognition Act after report claims self-ID has been dropped

Nick Duffy September 21, 2020
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Gender Recognition Certificate application fee slashed from £140 to £5

Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss. (Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition calling on the government to press ahead with reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) ahead of a looming announcement on the issue.

The Sunday Times has reported that equalities minister Liz Truss is poised to ditch plans to allow trans people to change the gender on their birth certificate without seeking approval from doctors — opting to largely ignore the results of a 2018 consultation that found overwhelming public support for the change.

The newspaper’s report is the latest in the series of leaks concerning GRA reform, which has faced an uncertain future and repeated delays since Truss was handed the equalities brief by Boris Johnson.

On Monday, a Government Equalities Office spokesperson confirmed to PinkNews: “The minister for women and equalities will provide the government’s response to the Gender Recognition Act this week.”

Petition calls for GRA reform to continue.

Ahead of the imminent announcement, a petition calling for the reforms to go ahead has attracted more than 64,000 signatures in just over a day.

It states: “Reform the GRA to allow transgender people to self-identify without the need for a medical diagnosis, to streamline the administrative process, and to allow non-binary identities to be legally recognised.

“The response gathered by the government showed strong support for this reform with 70 per cent in favour, but the results seem to have been ignored by policy makers.

“The current process is distressing and often humiliating for transgender people, as well as lengthy and costly making it inaccessible to many people.

“Reform is needed to improve the lives of trans people, and I don’t think the proposed measures will negatively impact existing provisions under the [Equality] Act.”

The petition calls on Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss to continue with GRA reform
The petition calls on Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss to continue with GRA reform (Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Campaigners have long called for the UK’s gender recognition laws, which are 16 years out of date and do not align with international best practice, to be modernised.

The existing laws require trans people to clear a number of hurdles to change their legal gender, including the provision of “evidence of living in an acquired gender”, submission of a medical report detailing treatment they received, and payment of a £140 fee.

A large percentage of trans people do not seek a gender recognition certificate due to the bureaucratic burden, medicalised process, high cost and perceived lack of benefit. Others, such as under-18s and non-binary people, are denied access to gender recognition certificates entirely.

A gender recognition certificate is not required to update gender on ID documents such as passports or driver’s licenses, it has no connection whatsoever to access to single-sex spaces, and it’s illegal for businesses to require one to be provided as evidence of gender.

‘Trans people have waited too long for equality.’

LGBT+ charity Stonewall said in a statement on Sunday: “For years, trans communities have said the GRA is outdated. The British public overwhelmingly agreed and called for reform via consultation.

“Trade unions and doctors just this week re-affirmed their support for reform. Trans people have waited too long for equality.

“Now, if today’s report is true and the government doesn’t move forward with real GRA reform it will be a bitter blow for trans people.

“But what hasn’t changed is trans people’s legal right to access single-sex spaces in line with the gender they identify with.”

Stonewall added: “This news won’t change the fact that in a landmark ruling this week, an employment tribunal decided that Equality Act protections cover non-binary and gender fluid people.

“What also won’t change is the fact that Stonewall will continue to work with trans communities and trans-led organisations to build a world where all of us can be accepted without exception. We will get there, together.”

Trans children’s charity Mermaids said: “After articles published today, rumours are spreading about the government’s plans for the Gender Recognition Act reform.

“We are patiently awaiting a formal announcement and will continue to be optimistic for the future of trans rights in the UK.”

“Meanwhile it’s worth repeating: trans people can already self-id for passports, driving licences and yes, access to single sex spaces. That isn’t changing. Take heart.”

Related topics: Equality Act, gender recognition act, gra, GRA Reform, liz truss, trans rights

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