Campaigners hail move to recognise transgender rights

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​Consultation first part of process to address transgender inequality 

24th July 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

A charity campaigning for the rights of transgender people is hailing moves by the UK government to bring legislation in line with Scotland.

It comes as a consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 in England and Wales was announced.

The Scottish Trans Alliance welcomed the move which it says is the result of over two years of campaigning from transgender equality groups.

The Scottish Government has already committed to reform gender recognition law in line with international best practice and has promised to consult on the details at the end of the summer. 

Like marriage law, gender recognition law is devolved and progress in Scotland positively influences progress in England.

The decision will allow trans people to change the gender on their birth certificates by self-declaration, without having to provide intrusive psychiatric reports and other onerous evidence.

James Morton, Scottish Trans Alliance Manager, said: “We welcome that the UK Government has now followed the Scottish Government’s lead in accepting that the Gender Recognition Act needs to be urgently reformed.

“This is long overdue as the UK has fallen far behind the gender recognition procedures in more than a dozen other countries, including our closest neighbour, Ireland.”

Campaigners say it will uphold transgender people’s privacy and dignity and also ensure that their pensions, insurance policies, civil partnerships and marriages are all administered correctly and smoothly.

Currently, birth certificates are much harder to change than all other types of identity documents and records so transgender people are often left in limbo with the gender on their birth certificate contradicting all their other official paperwork.

For over 20 years, transgender people in the UK have already been able to change the gender on their passports, driving licences, medical records and employment records by self-declaration at the start of their transitions.

Morton added: “The current UK process to change the gender on a trans person’s birth certificate is a humiliating, offensive and expensive red-tape nightmare which requires them to submit intrusive psychiatric evidence to a faceless tribunal panel.

The gender on their UK passport, driving licence, medical records and other identity documents already get changed by self-declaration at the very start of a person’s transition. Birth certificates simply need to be brought in line with the process for all other UK identity documents.”

The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee’s Inquiry into Transgender Equality published its report in January 2016 recommending reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004. The Scottish Trans Alliance was one of the groups that submitted written and oral evidence to the Inquiry.