Written evidence submitted by Mr J Jackson [GRA1999]

 

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

These changes are a mixed bag - either in the right direction or 
meaningless.

Moving the process online:
This does make the process slightly more accessible to some users, but does 
not address the significant paperwork load needed in general: now instead 
of having to afford postage, people will need access to a scanner, etc. and 
internet provision.

Reducing the fee:
This process should be free - to do otherwise is to work against the right 
of people to have their gender expressed accurately in various records. 
Changing your address, etc. on a driving license is free; this is because 
the government values the fact that records here are accurate. They should 
recognise the same utility when it comes to gender, as an outdated idea of 
a person's gender (contrary to all of the other documentation they posses) 
is somewhere between useless and actively unhelpful.

Opening at least 3 new clinics this year:
This would be useful if the plans to open new gender clinics were not 
already in place before this proposal. This is political opportunism of the 
worst sort, taking something that is already in process and saying "oh yes, 
look at us act to fix this problem now we are aware of it".
Further, with waiting times at some clinics of over 3 years, this change is 
a drop in in ocean: the government either needs to fund more new clinics, 
not just 3, or recognise the urgent need to move large amounts of the work 
performed by GICs into standard primary and secondary care settings. Much 
of this work is well within the knowledge scope of GPs or other 
specialists, and gaps can be addressed with a push for professional 
development and training.


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?

This fee should be removed - it both places an additional burden on a 
segment of the population already at risk of poverty, violence and 
discrimination, and is not in line with other such procedural changes to 
documentation. It isn't a gender change certificate, but a gender 
recognition certificate, i.e. it is not something that should require 
review, but just be an update of documentation to reflect observed and 
inhabited identity.
In truth, this should become a self-declaration system, possibly with the 
aid of witnessing by an appropriate professional, just like many other 
changes to ID in this country.

Other financial burdens revolve around the paperwork needed to support and 
make this change - paperwork that is unnecessary for other changes of 
gender. If banks and the passport office can perform this kind of change 
without extensive paperwork beyond (in the case of the passport office) 
signed declaration from a relevant medical professional, why can this not 
be applied to the rest of government? The border system and banks are known 
for being risk-averse by nature, and yet this low-paperwork system seems to 
not cause any problems for them!


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

Yes, this should be removed. This is an outdated aspect of the legislation 
that a) over-medicalises what is in many cases a social issue and b) 
considerably misrepresents the issues faced by many trans people today.

Not all trans people have gender dysphoria, and all trans people should 
have the right to be recognised in their true gender, as provisioned by a 
GRC.

Additionally: diagnosis may be difficult to access for some people, due to 
combination of time needed (3 years is a very long time for an initial GIC 
appointment), and an inability to live safely in their true gender without 
facing discrimination with regards to employment, housing, etc. A GIC can 
help with these issues, and putting it behind the medical wall is 
effectively denying it as an option to a great many vulnerable people.


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

This should not be a requirement. All studies of trans people that I have 
ever come across show an astonishingly low rate of "detransition", after 
any length of time, and so I see no need for any sort of 'cooling off 
period' for this step - let alone 2 years!
We don't make people wait 2 years to change their name after they decide to 
marry or buy a house - arguably equally weighty life decisions -  and there 
is no reason that we should do so here.

Additionally, as I referred to in my previous answer, the GIC documentation 
may be necessary for a person to live safely & free of harassment in their 
true gender identity, and putting this requirement in place is out-of-date 
and a significant barrier to access, especially for younger people.

Beyond all of that: This depends on an entirely outdated idea that a 
medical professional can look at a person and 'decide what gender they are 
living as' with any kind of authority. What about butch women, whether 
lesbian or not? What about drag queens or effeminate men? What about Harry 
Styles, who was recently featured on the cover of Vogue, as a cisgender 
man, wearing a dress? These are all people who might be arbitrarily denied 
a GIC for their *NATAL* gender, if they applied for it, due to 
this 'evidence of nonconformity'. This makes absolutely no sense, and 
should be entirely removed. Gender isn't the clothes you wear, whether you 
wear makeup, or if you like football (things which I have heard from trans 
people have been included in their medical notes as 'evidence'). Prevent 
this abuse of medical authority and arbitrary external judgement by 
removing this provision completely.


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

Yes, they should. This is in line with other countries (who have had no 
problems with it), and properly positions gender as something internal that 
cannot be well-adjudicated by an external observer.


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?

Yes. This should be removed. The idea that a partner of mine can hold such 
strong rights over me - especially when not everyone in this country has 
access to e.g. no-fault divorce, or the financial freedom to divorce - is 
abhorrent.
Additionally, if this WERE to be kept, refusal of consent should be 
enshrined in law across the UK as reasonable grounds for immediate divorce.


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

Yes. This should be lowered to at least 16, and should preferentially be in 
line with Gillick competence: if this is a medical issue, it should be in 
line with other medical determinations of competence and understanding.

The age of application could also be removed, and replaced with an age at 
which it comes into force, either on a 16th or (were that judged 
impractical) an 18th birthday, allowing younger people to gather 
their 'evidence required' in advance.

Ultimately - it should not be an application, but a self-declaration for 
anyone with Gillick Competency, at the very least.


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

These changes do not go nearly far enough, for the reasons that I set out 
in Q1.

On one level - they will improve a few things a small amount. On another 
level - I worry that these changes will be used by the government and media 
to say "we've done our bit" and placed as direct obstacles to any further 
changes.

The government MUST commit to further work on this area, this is NOT enough.


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

- Legal recognition of non-binary people
- Self-declaration of gender
- Specific reaffirmation of the rights of trans people to use the 
single-sex facilites appropriate to the gender they identify and present 
as. This is currently in place in law, but risks being eroded and must be 
reaffirmed as the intent of the existing Equalities Act legislation.
- Greatly increased provision of gender healthcare at primary care and 
generalist secondary care facilities within the NHS.


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

This is a much better system, and much closer to the results suggested by 
the previous referendum on this issue. The government has a mandate to make 
these changes, and should do so already instead of prevaricating.


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

Expense, difficulty and discrimination of the process.


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

Yes - the definitions of sex and gender have been used to discriminate 
against trans people, taking advantage of this legal murkiness from an act 
that is 16 years old.


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?

No. Trans people MUST be entitled to use the spaces appropriate to their 
identified and presenting gender.


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

No! There is no protection for nonbinary people!


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?


November 2020