Topic: News

Gender recognition process urgently in need of reform, say MPs

A new report on the reform of the Gender Recognition Act was published on 21st December

The Beaumont Society welcomes a new report produced by the Women & Equalities Select Committee of the House of Commons. The Society’s President Dr Jane Hamlin was one of the witnesses called to be questioned by the Committee.

Despite taking two years to do so, the Government has failed to adequately respond to its own consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004, leaving a gender recognition process which is unfair and overly medicalised. In its new Report, Reform of the Gender Recognition Act, the cross-party Women and Equalities Committee describe the Government’s response to the 2018 consultation as ‘minimal’, and calls for urgent reforms to be made to the Act.  

  

Drawing on evidence from both trans rights and women’s rights groups, representing voices for and against reform, the Report considers the Government’s proposed amendments to the 17-year-old Act. Calling on Government Ministers to ‘properly engage’ with the Committee’s scrutiny, the Report makes a number of recommendations for meaningfully reforming the legislation, including the de-medicalisation of the gender recognition process, the removal of the spousal consent provision and the requirement to live in the acquired gender.  

  

The Report also considers the interplay between the GRA and the 2010 Equality Act, calling for consistency across the two and for greater clarity to be provided on exceptions, enabling employers, service providers and sports bodies to operate with confidence within the law.  

  

The Committee calls on the Government to: 

  

·       Remove the requirement of a ‘gender dysphoria’ diagnosis from the process of obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate, thus de-medicalising transition, as was supported by former Prime Minister Theresa May when commissioning the consultation. Instead, the focus must be shifted to a system of self-declaration. 

  

·       Remove the requirement for trans people to have lived in their acquired gender for two years- which, says the Report, ‘risks entrenching outdated and unacceptable gender stereotypes’, as well as the need for spousal consent. Instead, the Committee recommend, the body issuing the certificate must be given the power to issue annulments at the same time.  

  

·       Conduct a review on the- currently opaque- Gender Recognition Panel which approves applications for Gender Recognition Certificates, considering whether it would be appropriate to replace with the Registrar General for England and Wales. In the meantime, steps must be taken to make the operation and role of the panel more transparent.  

  

·       Urgently publish new guidance, incorporating worked examples and case studies, which would clarify where single-sex and separate-sex exceptions can be applied to the 2010 Equality Act. This is particularly relevant where, for example, women’s refuges and other service providers are left unclear as to whether the exclusion of trans people from certain spaces is in violation of the law.  

  

·       Develop a specific healthcare strategy for transgender and non-binary people, including training for GPs around treating trans and non-binary patients and improved access to support services. 

  

·       Commit to continuing to implement the LGBT Action Plan. The Committee expressed concerns that the plan seems to have been abandoned by the current Women and Equalities Minister, and seek clarity as to if, and why, this is the case. 

  

Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP, said: 

  

“The Government took nearly two years to respond to the consultation on an Act that was written at the turn of the millennium. The GRA is crying out for modernisation, and the Government has spectacularly missed its opportunity. This is an area of reform which has attracted strong opinions and debate, but there are areas- such as the removal a time period for living in an acquired gender- which many can agree on. The Government’s failure to implement even these changes- made clear in its consultation- suggest its lack of willingness to engage. 

  

“Being trans is not an illness. It is imperative that the Government de-medicalise the process of gender recognition by removing the outdated requirement for a gender dysphoria diagnosis. The current response to the 2018 consultation has amounted to little more than administrative changes. We are now calling on the Government to enact real, meaningful change.” 

https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/8329/documents/84728/default/

    

Camden unveils pedestrian crossings in colours of the trans flag

To celebrate Transgender Awareness Week 2021, taking place from 13 to 19 November, Camden has unveiled a four-way crossing at the junction of Tavistock Place and Marchmont Street.

Thought to be only the second in the country, the crossing is painted in the international Transgender colours of blue, pink and white.

Councillor Abdul Hai, Cabinet Member for Young People, Equalities and Cohesion said:

“Camden is renowned for being ‘no place for hate’ and a borough that has a strong and continuing history of respect and support for everyone.

“These amazing crossings are not only an impressive visual statement to help celebrate transgender awareness, but also act as a reminder of the rich LGBT+ history and daily life currently in the Bloomsbury area and across Camden and should prove to be a popular draw to this vibrant area.”

Dr Jane Hamlin, President of the Beaumont Society – the longest established support group in the UK for transgender people and their families – said:

“Camden is a beacon of fairness and justice. We are delighted that Camden has chosen to celebrate transgender awareness in such an outstanding way at a time when, sadly, others are spreading hateful misinformation and threatening the human rights of this vulnerable minority. Thank you, Camden.”

Tessa Havers-Strong, Director of local LGBTQ charity forum+ said:

“As we (prepare to) commemorate Trans Awareness Week and Trans Day of Remembrance the unveiling of the first Trans crossing in Camden is a wonderful tribute to our community.

“The Trans crossing is a bright and bold statement of celebration and support for Trans people and will be a proud symbol of Camden’s continued commitment to championing equality for all the LGBTQ+ community”

Kim Mears, Managing Director and Executive Sponsor of Diversity and Inclusion commitments, Openreach, said:

“The Borough of Camden is home to the Openreach HQ and we are really pleased to support this campaign and London’s first painted crossing specifically highlighting trans people and their rights.

“At Openreach, we are committed to supporting and protecting all our people; this includes increasing education and awareness of LGBTQ+ issues and enabling our trans colleagues – like everyone else – to fulfil their potential and thrive.

“We are proud to stand alongside other organisations in Camden which have been able to make this awareness-raising crossing happen, (almost) on our doorstep.”

The transgender crossing was installed after the council had undertaken a full Equalities Impact Assessment and Road Safety Audit.

Installing the crossings

This scheme follows on from the success of the four Rainbow crossings laid in Camden High Street in 2020 to mark Pride Month. It also recently worked with the Mayor of London to install 11 colourful crossings on Tottenham Court Road as part of the Bring London Together’ project.

Ensuring the crossings are safe and clear has been the Council’s priority on all occasions. Ahead of installing the Transgender Awareness Crossing, Camden carried out a full Equality Impact Assessment and Road Safety Audit, and is committed to engaging with disability groups to discuss the accessibility of the crossing. This so far includes engagement with Transport for All and Royal National Institute of Blind People.

Some of the key steps we have taken are:

  • To ensure the design is simple, with three colours and not complicated in layout.
  • To ensure essential road markings remain fully clear and ‘Look Left, Look Right’ markings are maintained.
  • To lay the crossings at signalised crossings, not zebra crossings.
  • To keep standard traffic features in place at the crossings including signals, stoplines and studs.

Camden will continue to work with disability groups to get feedback on the crossing now it is in full use.

Financial Help for UK-based Trans Support Organisations

The Beaumont Society has introduced a series of three grants to help trans support organisations.

A Start-Up fund to help with the initial costs of setting up a new trans social/support group.

An Assistance Grant to help a group that is experiencing financial problems.

An Event Support Grant to help fund the costs of a planned event that brings trans people together, promotes support and inclusion for trans and LGBTQ+ people. It can also be used to fund a stall or float at such an event.

For further details, or to apply for a grant, please email the Grant Officer at: beaumontgrant@beaumontsociety.org.uk

‘This won’t improve the life of the average trans person’

Emma Elms has written an article for TOGETHERBAND about some of the issues around the Gender Recognition Act and the possible reforms that were discussed in 2018. Despite the vast majority of the 102,818 people who responded to the consultation process favouring reducing the bureaucracy and intrusive nature of the requirements to apply for a GRC, Liz Truss (Minister for Women & Equalities) announced a reduction in the fee. Whilst this is a welcome improvement, it is a minuscule step towards what is required. Liz Truss clearly has absolutely no idea what is involved for trans people who apply for a GRC. You can read Emma’s article here: https://togetherband.org/blogs/news/gender-recognition-certificate-fee-reduced

Trans masculine and non-binary people! Could you help, please?

Can you help NHS.uk make our content on pregnancy and baby care more inclusive?

NHS.uk are looking to talk to people who identify as transmasculine or non-binary and have experience of at least one pregnancy or are currently pregnant.

We will use the information you give us to make our pregnancy and baby pages more inclusive and useful.

To find out more and sign up, please visit the link below.

 

https://feedback.digital.nhs.uk/jfe/form/SV_d69Jpx5afmnCJ8y

New support for the adult children of trans people

Family TransFormations is a new group that has been created to support the adult children of trans people. This is a supportive space for the adult children of transgender and/or sexually diverse parents. This group aims to fill the gap for people who have not felt recognised and supported. To connect with each other, to share, to educate and support. If you know someone for whom this could be relevant, tell them about it.

For more information go to the website: https://familytransformation.wixsite.com/website

 

Transmen, please share your experiences of Breast Screening

“NHS Digital are looking to speak with people within the LGBTQ+ community to understand their experiences of Breast Screening, particularly from Transmen. If you have been invited for screening, then we’d love to hear from you about your experience. Please leave your details in the following link:  https://nhsdigital.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9zgMsbAaiTPjZoa

 

Another Look at Reforms to the Gender Recognition Act: Your opportunity to contribute to the discussion

Reform of the Gender Recognition Act

Inquiry

The Government has published its proposals for changes to the gender recognition process and set out how it plans to move forward. The Women and Equalities Committee will examine these proposals, gathering evidence on whether the Government’s proposed changes are the right ones and whether they go far enough.

This inquiry will explore what changes, if any, should be made to the existing legislation, in order for current legislation to improve transgender equality.

The written evidence published as part of this inquiry will be used to inform the work of the Committee. Publication of written evidence does not equate to an endorsement of the views it contains by the Committee.

The committee wants to hear your views. They say that they will welcome submissions from anyone with answers to the questions in the call for evidence. You can submit evidence until Friday 27 November 2020.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) sets out a process that allows individuals over the age of 18 to receive legal recognition of their acquired gender. Applicants must apply to the Gender Recognition Panel to receive a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), which from the date of issue, considers the applicant, in law, to be of their acquired gender.

In July 2018 the Government opened a consultation on how best to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004. In September 2020, the Minister for Women and Equalities set out the Government’s proposals, in response to this consultation:

The Government said it would:

·       Place the whole procedure online

·       Reduce the fee from £140 to a “nominal amount”.

·       Open at least three new gender clinics this year in order to reduce waiting lists.

Alongside this Statement, the Government Equalities Office published an of the consultation response.

This inquiry focuses specifically on the questions below. The Committee encourages evidence from individuals as well as organisations.  You can answer as many or as few questions as you like.

The terms of reference set out below are split into two sections. The Committee may decide to conduct the inquiry over two different phases.

Terms of reference

The Government’s response to the GRA consultation:

  • Will the Government’s proposed changes meet its aim of making the process “kinder and more straight forward”?
  • 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?
  • Should the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria be removed?
  • Should there be changes to the requirement for individuals to have lived in their acquired gender for at least two years?
  • What is your view of the statutory declaration and should any changes have been made to it?
  • 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?
  • Should the age limit at which people can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) be lowered?
  • What impact will these proposed changes have on those people applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate, and on trans people more generally?
  • What else should the Government have included in its proposals, if anything?
  • Does the Scottish Government’s proposed Bill offer a more suitable alternative to reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004?

 

Wider issues concerning transgender equality and current legislation:

  • Why is the number of people applying for GRCs so low compared to the number of people identifying as transgender?
  • Are there challenges in the way the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Equality Act 2010 interact? For example, in terms of the different language and terminology used across both pieces of legislation.
  • 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?
  • Does the Equality Act adequately protect trans people? If not, what reforms, if any, are needed
  • What issues do trans people have in accessing support services, including health and social care services, domestic violence and sexual violence services?
  • Are legal reforms needed to better support the rights of gender-fluid and non-binary people? If so, how?

 

You can submit evidence until Friday 27 November.

Your Submission

If your submission is accepted by the Committee, it will usually be published online. It will then be available permanently for anyone to view. It can’t be changed or removed.

If you have included your name or any personal information in your submission, that will be published too. Please consider how much personal information you want or need to share. Your contact details will never be published.

Decisions about publishing evidence anonymously, or about accepting but not publishing evidence, are made by the Committee. If you want to ask the Committee to keep your evidence anonymous (we’ll publish your evidence but not your name or personal details) or confidential (the Committee will read your evidence but it won’t be published) then please tick the box on the submission form. This lets the Committee know what you would like but the final decision will be taken by the Committee.

We can’t publish submissions that mention ongoing legal cases – contact us if you are not sure what this means for you.

More guidance on providing written evidence to a select committee can be found .

Please feel welcome to discuss any questions with the Committee staff at womeqcom@parliament.uk;

Signposting

We understand that the issues raised in this inquiry may be potentially complex or sensitive. The Committee cannot provide advice on cases.

 

If you would like support about any of the issues raised, you may wish to contact a specialist support service, such as:

 

– 0808 800 0082

– 0300 123 3393

– 116 123

 

If you would require additional advice or support on a range of other issues you may wish to contact on 03444 111 444.

 

Committees of the House of Commons are not able to take up individual cases but if you would like political support or advice you may wish to contact your local M.P.

Click on this link for more information: https://committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/291/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act/