Should Gender Recognition Certificates Be Simpler?
In the UK, individuals are recognised as the gender that is on their birth certificates. In 2004, the Gender Recognition Act was a provision for transgender individuals to change this information – to effectively replace their birth certificate. This topic has reached national news again, with parliament officials calling for purposed changes to the process. So, what does this mean for trans individuals?
The current system
Under the current Gender Recognition Act, people who apply for the gender recognition certificate (GRC) must meet certain strict criteria, including proving they have lived as their preferred gender for two years.
Transgender individuals must also be approved by a gender recognition panel – made up of both legal and medical professionals. This panel then determines the medical diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’, before someone can legally change their gender.
A dividing issue
Many trans activists want the process to obtain a GRC to become more straightforward. They argue that the process is intrusive and distressing. Instead, they want trans people to be able to self-declare without the current necessity for a medical diagnosis. Ultimately, they also want people to understand there is a distinction between sex and gender identity.
However, this has received criticism from individuals and groups who misunderstand what it means to be trans. These critics argue people should be the sex they were assigned at birth, saying trans identity threatens single-sex services and spaces.
Gender identity charities, such as Chrysalsis, claim these criticisms can cause harmful behaviour, and even violence, towards trans individuals. This kind of criticism also ignores the growing scientific evidence that being transgender is part of a person’s biology.
Time for change?
The debate surrounding transgender rights has once again become a hot topic. Recently, Theresa May has pledged to improve trans rights in the UK. Plans to let people lawfully change their gender, without medical checks, will hopefully make obtaining GRC’s a simpler process.
May said, “being trans is not an illness and it should not be treated as such.” Her proposal is supported by Jeremy Corbyn, who has agreed with plans to remove the need for medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.