Trans people have been waiting years for a government response to the Gender Recognition Act, during which time misinformation has been allowed to spread which has created an environment of hostility towards the trans community.
We are glad to see an announcement from the government today, but the contents of the announcement are disappointing. The changes are minimal. Of course, we are happy that steps will be taken to address the cost of obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate and there will be a move to reduce some of the bureaucracy involved in the application process. However, there is no mention of the removal of the requirement for medical reports or the requirement for permission from one’s spouse. We are disgusted that this medicalisation and infantilisation is being allowed to remain in UK law. The ongoing lack of legal recognition for non-binary people is dehumanising and it needs to change. This lack of legal recognition appears to be in conflict with the Equality Act, which is supposed to protect non-binary people from discrimination under the ‘gender reassignment’ protected characteristic. The Equality Act makes it clear that trans people should not be discriminated against, and this is a principle that we would expect the government to uphold. This lack of recognition for non-binary people and the lack of recognition for under 18s is something that TransActual will continue to challenge. There will be actions that trans people and our allies can do to help the UK be a more welcoming place for non-binary people, keep an eye on the TransActual social media channels and website for more information in the coming months.
The statement makes it clear that trans people will continue to be protected by the Equality Act (2010). This ensures that trans men of any age and at any stage of transition may be treated the same as any other man, including with access to single sex spaces such as toilets or changing rooms. The only exceptions to this will continue to need to be made on a case by case basis, with a requirement that any exclusion is proportionate and for legitimate reasons. Similarly, trans women of any age and at any stage of transition continue to be entitled to be treated the same as any other woman, including with access to single sex spaces such as toilets or changing rooms. Again, the only exceptions to this will continue to need to be made on a case by case basis, with a requirement that any exclusion is proportionate and for legitimate reasons. The legal bar for this is set high. In July there were real concerns that trans people’s rights under the Equality Act would change, so a statement to confirm that these important legal protections remain can only be seen as positive. Trans people have maintained our rights under the Equality Act thanks to every single person that wrote to Boris Johnson, to Liz Truss, or to their MP. We came together as a community and we resisted a roll back to our rights. Last week’s employment tribunal made it clear that non-binary people are also protected by the Equality Act and that was indeed welcome news.
With inhumane waiting times for NHS Gender Identity Clinics, we welcome that the government has highlighted the three existing pilot projects. We hope that they will also invest in other measures to reduce the waiting times for the existing GICs, reducing the waiting time for GIDS and in educating GPs in providing bridging prescriptions. TransActual are planning a number of projects around healthcare and there will be more news on how people can get involved soon.