Written evidence submitted by Dr Elizabeth Chapman [GRA1714]
I am submitting this evidence as a researcher with a PhD on sexuality and gender identity. I am writing as a cis (i.e. non-trans) woman.
Question: Will the Government’s proposed changes meet its aim of making the
process “kinder and more straight forward”?
Although I welcome the move to reduce the fee involved and to open more
gender clinics, the proposed changes will in fact make very little
difference to the process. I am disappointed that the proposed changes are
so minimal, despite the responses to the previous consultation that were
strongly in favour of making the process more accessible for trans people.
Speaking as a cis (i.e. non-trans) woman, I am strongly in favour of
self-identification for trans people. This system has been successfully
introduced in many other countries, including Ireland, resulting in a much
less stressful process for trans people with no negative impact on anyone
else. I would also strongly support legal recognition for non-binary people.
Question: Should a fee for obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate be
removed or retained? Are there other financial burdens on applicants that
could be removed or retained?
The fee should be removed completely. Trans people are disproportionately
likely to face financial difficulties, not least because of the
discrimination they face when looking for jobs and in the workplace.
Question: Should the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria be
I believe this requirement should be removed. It places an additional
burden on trans people (as well as on the NHS) and makes the process longer
and more complicated. Not all GPs are fully conversant with trans issues
and thus a postcode lottery element is introduced. There is no clear
benchmark of what constitutes dysphoria for a given individual, with
different trans people experiencing it in different ways, to different
extents, or in some cases not at all. It is therefore far too fuzzy a
concept to be used as a legal requirement. Moreover, medicalising the
process in this way suggests that there is something 'wrong' with being
trans, in much the same way that homosexuality was once classed as
Question: Should there be changes to the requirement for individuals to
have lived in their acquired gender for at least two years?
This seems like completely unnecessary gatekeeping. Most trans people have
been carefully weighing up their decision to transition for a long time in
any case. Once again, it is far too fuzzy a concept to be used as a legal
requirement: 'living in one's gender' might look like very different things
for different people. Moreover, it is exclusionary of non-binary people.
Question: What is your view of the statutory declaration and should any
changes have been made to it?
As previously stated, I am strongly in favour of permitting trans people to
self-identify. Therefore, if a statutory declaration was the main vehicle
for legal recognition (instead of requiring a medical report etc.) I would
support this system.
Question: Does the spousal consent provision in the Act need reforming? If
so, how? If it needs reforming or removal, is anything else needed to
protect any rights of the spouse or civil partner?
This should absolutely be removed. Nobody has the right to exercise control
over anyone else's gender. It has already been removed in Scotland, so
bringing the rest of the UK into line would make sense.
Question: Should the age limit at which people can apply for a GRC be
Yes, I think it should be lowered to 16 at the oldest. This is the age at
which other autonomous rights and responsibilities kick in.
Question: What impact will these changes have on those people applying for
a GRC, and on trans people more generally?
They are largely inconsequential, and will have minimal impacts for the
majority of trans people. As stated previously, I am disappointed that the
proposals are so minor despite the strong support for broader reform of the
GRA in the previous consultation. Moving the process online could even make
it less accessible for some people.
Question: What else should the Government have included in its proposals,
I would strongly support a system of legal recognition for trans people
based on self-identification (I speak as a cis, i.e. non-trans, woman). I
would also support legal protections for non-binary people, who are
currently not covered by the Equality Act. There also need to be more
clinics providing services to young trans people, who currently face
extremely long waiting times.
Question: Does the Scottish Government’s proposed Bill offer a more
suitable alternative to reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004?
This is certainly an improvement on the proposals for the rest of the UK.
However, it still falls short in many respects, e.g. lack of recognition
for non-binary people. I also do not see the need to stipulate any length
of time for living in their acquired gender, although 3 months is a great
improvement on 2 years.
Question: Why is the number of people applying for GRCs so low compared to
the number of people identifying as transgender?
There are a lot of barriers (including financial ones) and hoops to jump
through. Trans people report that the process can be intimidating and
dehumanising. Also, a large proportion of trans people are non-binary, and
thus are currently not permitted to apply for a GRC under the current
Question: Are there challenges in the way the Gender Recognition Act 2004
and the Equality Act 2010 interact?
Question: Are the provisions in the Equality Act for the provision of
single-sex and separate-sex spaces and facilities in some circumstances
clear and useable for service providers and service users? If not, is
reform or further guidance needed?
The loophole should be removed which permits service providers to
discriminate against trans people. Trans women in particular are among the
most vulnerable groups in society and are disproportionately likely to face
domestic (and other) violence. In fact, many women's refuges across the UK
are already pro-actively going beyond the requirements of the legislation
by ensuring that they are fully accessible to trans women.
Question: Does the Equality Act adequately protect trans people? If not,
what reforms, if any, are needed?
It does not mention non-binary people in the main text.
Question: What issues do trans people have in accessing support services,
including health and social care services, domestic violence and sexual
Question: Are legal reforms needed to better support the rights of
gender-fluid and non-binary people? If so, how?
Yes. Non-binary people need legal protections, legal recognition, and the
addition of a third gender marker on passports and driving licences.