Written evidence submitted by Mr James Webster [GRA1884]

 

Question: Will the Government’s proposed changes meet its aim of making the 
process “kinder and more straight forward”?

I believe that these changes would make the process kinder and simpler.

I also believe that still more could be done to support trans people, 
including better education, support and more than the proposed funding to 
services support transgender 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?

I believe the fee should be removed - it is currently an unnecessary 
obstacle to healthcare and great harm could be reduced by removing it.

Further, many trans people incur additional costs of updating 
identification documents, traveling to and from appointments, or using 
private healthcare as the waiting lists are long and services are 
underfunded.

Travel costs could be reimbursed, grants could potentially be provided, 
fees for new identification or deed polls could be dropped for trans people.


Question: Should the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria be 
removed?

Yes, I believe this requirement should be removed. Not all trans people 
have dysphoria, indeed many experience instead a sense of *euphoria* at 
living in their correct gender.

Many trans people also find it difficult to get a diagnosis, often because 
the distress of having to live as a gender that doesn't fit can cause 
issues like depression or anxiety, which can mask the dysphoria or make 
clinicians reluctant to diagnose. Most evidence suggests that transition 
will actually decrease the severity of these symptoms, potentially saving 
lives.


Question: Should there be changes to the requirement for individuals to 
have lived in their acquired gender for at least two years?

I believe this should be shortened or removed entirely.

Primarily, I hold this opinion because it isn't *safe* for all trans people 
to live as their correct gender. They may face potential fallout from 
family, church, friends, or contemporaries at school/work. They may fear 
hate crime (which has risen massively in the UK over the last 5 years).

Many trans people may be somewhere on the non-binary/genderqueer spectrum, 
also, which means that living full-time as one binary gender may still be 
distressing and harmful.

In many cases, especially amongst those who fear hate crime, having legal 
recognition could be a massive benefit to their mental health and 
wellbeing. It may also make people feel safer living as their true gender 
(especially given current moral panics that make trans people afraid to use 
toilets).


Question: What is your view of the statutory declaration and should any 
changes have been made to it?

I believe that trans people should be able to declare their own gender.

I believe that having to submit evidence to a panel is intrusive and 
harmful gatekeeping.


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?

I believe the spousal consent provision should be removed.

I do not think anyone should be able to hold their partner or spouse 
hostage in a gender role that harms them, which is what this provision 
currently does.

I note that as Baroness Barker put it last year: "No other 
marriage-changing event, such as relocating or converting to a religion or 
declaring oneself bankrupt, or even changing one’s name, requires such 
consent."

I do not believe that anything new would be needed to protect the partner's 
rights, as doing so would place extra barriers in front of trans people 
that do not exist for others. I believe this is discriminatory.


Question: Should the age limit at which people can apply for a GRC be 
lowered?

I believe the limit should be lowered to 16.

Best evidence all suggests that allowing younger people to apply 
for/receive a GRC could save lives.


Question: What impact will these changes have on those people applying for 
a GRC, and on trans people more generally?

I believe these changes will make it somewhat easier and less stressful to 
apply for a GRC, and do some good in making a clear but limited statement 
of support for trans people.

I believe that this impact will be small in comparison to what could be 
accomplished with larger changes, such as greater support in education, 
counseling and pastoral support, funding to trans health services, and 
legal protection.

Given the terrifying rise of trans-related hate crime, I believe dramatic 
and sustained action is required to support trans people and save lives.


Question: What else should the Government have included in its proposals, 
if anything?

I believe that these proposals should have included:

- legal recognition for non-binary people, such as the inclusion of 
a 'Non-binary/NB' option on passports and inclusion of the title 'Mx' on 
official paperwork.
- the right to self-declare your gender identity
- funding to open even more GIC clinics
- more support and education in schools for young trans people


Question: Does the Scottish Government’s proposed Bill offer a more 
suitable alternative to reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004?

I would find the Scottish Government's proposed Bill to be a more suitable 
alternative (but also believe it could go further).


Question: Why is the number of people applying for GRCs so low compared to 
the number of people identifying as transgender?

I believe this is due to long waiting lists, unnecessary medical 
gatekeeping, barriers (such as stigma or safety or lack of support) that 
prevent people from living in their true gender for 2+ years, and costs of 
application and secondary costs such as travel/deed polls.

I think the level of stigma also makes people afraid to stick their heads 
above the parapet in communities that aren't known to be safe.


Question: Are there challenges in the way the Gender Recognition Act 2004 
and the Equality Act 2010 interact?

Yes, the two acts contain conflicting definition, which are open to both 
confusion and exploitation.


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?

I believe that these provisions are not at all clear.

I would like to see them reformed so that they cannot be used to incite 
fear and panic against trans people, who frequently receive abuse or 
harassment in such facilities.


Question: Does the Equality Act adequately protect trans people? If not, 
what reforms, if any, are needed?

I believe that it does not adequately protect trans people.

I believe that non-binary people deserve to be explicitly protected. 
Further, I believe that consideration should be given to protecting trans 
people who do not intend to go through invasive physical transition, but 
are still transitioning socially.


Question: What issues do trans people have in accessing support services, 
including health and social care services, domestic violence and sexual 
violence services?




Question: Are legal reforms needed to better support the rights of 
gender-fluid and non-binary people? If so, how?

Yes, I believe they could be given the option to be legally recognised as 
non-binary and include this on identification and medical records etc.

I believe the Equality Act could also be reformed to explicitly mention and 
protect non-binary and gender-fluid people.

 

November 2020