Gender Recognition Act: why it needs to change

Why is the Government consulting about the Gender Recognition Act?

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) governs how trans people can have their identity legally recognised. This was at the time a big step forward – but it’s now really out of date.

This autumn, we have the opportunity to improve trans rights.

This matters to unions and in workplaces. Supporting trans workers at work is linked to being able to make sure trans workers have dignity and acceptance at work, in the street and online. Trans workers at the moment experience a range of adverse and discriminatory experiences at work and this includes where they work in the education sector.

We need to change this by educating about trans workers and trans young people.

See our policies for students and workers

What’s wrong with the Gender Recognition Act?

At the moment, trans people have to endure a lengthy and demeaning process to ‘prove’ their gender identity and obtain a gender recognition certificate. It’s a very distressing experience. Many trans workers, including National Education Union trans members, tell us that is it complex, costly and inaccessible.

The NEU supports a reformed Gender Recognition Act that:

  • Requires no medical diagnosis or presentation of evidence for trans people to get their identity legally recognised
  • Recognises non-binary identities; and
  • Gives all trans people,  including 16 – 17-year-olds, the right to self-identification, through a much simpler and more streamlined administrative process

’The high cost involved in applying for a GRC is a real barrier to a lot of trans people who feel that because of the amount and type of evidence required they may be rejected, losing a lot of money and gaining nothing”.

Why should trans people have to ‘prove’ their gender identity?

The current process, under the GRA, means trans people have to go through a series of intrusive medical assessments and lengthy, demeaning interviews with psychiatrists in order to ‘prove’ their gender identity. It requires trans people to have a formal diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’, to live in their ‘acquired gender’ for two years, and hand over evidence supporting all of this to a gender recognition panel (composed of clinicians who have never met the applicant) who have the power to approve, or deny, an application.

This recognition process can take many years. The length of time and the number of professionals who need to be involved is unnecessary and does not support or assist trans workers.

But most importantly, it means that trans people cannot determine their own gender identity, in the way that others can. To put it simply, this isn’t fair.

People who are non-binary (they don’t identify as either male or female) don’t have any legal recognition at all under the current GRA.

I would not be legally recognised as male in my death (I'm ftm). I didn't live as a man to die as a woman.”

Will you speak up for GRA reform?

If we speak out together now, we can push for the GRA to change. The NEU is asking its members to:

Who can respond to the GRA consultation?

Everyone - the consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act gives you the opportunity to support the right of trans workers to identify their gender.  

The NEU will reflect the experience of trans members in the response but you don’t have to be trans or an ‘expert’ to respond.

Progress on the GRA is crucial- to enable trans workers to live safe, autonomous and dignified lives, respected at work and throughout society. That’s why showing your support matters.

Respond to the consultation and please express your support for:

  • An end to the unnecessary medicalisation of the GRA process
  • Removal of the spousal veto
  • Removal of the requirement of a medical diagnosis supported by documentation
  • Removal of the £140 fee
  • An end to the 2 year delay
  • Giving all trans people,  including 16 – 17-year-olds, the right to self-identification, through a much simpler and more streamlined administrative process
What does having a GRC signify for trans members?

’Legal recognition would help me feel on an equal level to cis people, who self-declare their gender identity for free on a daily basis without the need for a rigorous and demeaning process adjudicated by complete strangers.”

Trans members without a certificate are often in the position where they have to explain the mismatch between gender on different documents which requires revealing their trans identity and personal history every time this happens. Members who are trans have told the NEU that having a Gender Recognition Certificate would signify legal validation of who they are. Getting to the stage where their correct gender is legally recognised is a hugely important step.

Trans workers have a high level of distrust in the current GRA process. In a recent survey of trans members by the NEU, 42% had not applied for a certificate because the process was seen as daunting, expensive, intrusive and inaccessible.

One of the main reasons for not having applied was the requirement to gather two years’ worth of evidence of living in their gender. Many members have lived in their gender but don’t have the required evidence to prove it. There are many reasons why trans people can’t (yet) live openly in their gender, which can include negative and hostile reactions from some family, friends, managers or colleagues.

"Acquiring a GRC was vital to ensure that I could register as the father of my child’’. 

 
News
10 October 2018