Here are my responses to the Government’s consultation on the GRA.
If you have not responded yet you have until
11pm tonight (19 October 2018) 12.00 noon Monday 22 October. (Deadline extended due to volume of responses).
I did not answer every question. I will post my final comments first, then my answers to the other questions.
Question 22: Do you have any further comments about the Gender Recognition Act 2004?
I am afraid the opening paragraph above indicates the Government has already reached a conclusion on the need to reform the GRA and is not sufficiently open minded to listen to views from all sections of the general public. I hope this is not the case.
I also fear the Government has been taken in by a ‘bait and switch’ operation by certain trans activists. The Government appears not to appreciate the difference between ‘transsexuals’ as traditionally understood and a larger and much more vocal lobby of ‘transgender’ and ‘non-binary’ activists. I hope the Government will take into account the explanation provided by these transsexual women:
A medically diagnosed condition from childhood.
It involves acute stress from knowing that psychologically
that person is of opposite sex to the physiology of their body.
A transsexual person knows that you cannot change biological sex but extensive psychotherapy and medical assistance alter their body to match with the mind and live in harmony.
A large majority have had surgical alteration.
A desire to adopt the lifestyle of the opposite sex, full time or part time, often expressing this via clothing and make up.
The desire to have surgery or other medical treatments is much less common (some suggest as low as 10% of cases only).
Few wish to see doctors or be psychiatrically evaluated. Some transition back and forth.
These transsexual women continue:
“Government suggest removing all medical gatekeeping and the crafted bonds of trust that establish medical necessity to change our legal status. We believe these safeguards are vital as a show of respect from us to society when seeking access into protected spaces such as toilets. Nobody should just demand this by right.”
“Transgender individuals deserve rights. However, women already have reasonable concerns about ceding their own rights to transsexuals via the GRA. Now transsexuals with rights gained through years of medical assessment are asked to hand them on to people who have done none of that. Diminishing further still the rights of women.”
“We worry that many of the 500,000 transgender accessing legal status would still be physically intact with male bodies or even capable of rape. Medically transitioned transsexual women would be as much at risk from them as would women.”
The Government might also note this article in the Spectator:
I think it is clear that a lot of the pressure to reform the GRA has come from ‘transgender’ individuals who would not be able to meet the requirements of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. Many such individuals have fully functioning male organs and wish to have sex with women, yet want to identify as women and access female-only spaces. Many of them may meet the definition of autogynephilia.
This does not accord with most peoples understanding of a ‘transsexual’ person. To allow such people to have a GRC would be contrary to the original purposes of the GRA and would conflict with the dignity and safety of women in female-only spaces.
Question 3: Do you think there should be a requirement in the future for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria?
Removing the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria would make GRCs available to (a) male sex offenders who are simply abusing the system to get access to women’s spaces and to women and (b) natal males who have no intention of undergoing any physical transition, who wish to retain their male organs and are female-attracted. Such people may identify as women (which is impossible to confirm or refute), and may or my not present as women, but they do not accord with most peoples understanding of a ‘transsexual’ person. Indeed they may prefer to refer to themselves as ‘transgender’. Many such people have been evident in the debate on this consultation and it is clear that many would apply for a GRC. To allow such people to have a GRC would be contrary to the original purposes of the GRA and would conflict with the dignity and safety of women in female-only spaces.
Question 4: Do you also think there should be a requirement for a report detailing treatment received?
See answer to Q3
Question 5: (A) Do you agree that an applicant should have to provide evidence that they have lived in their acquired gender for a period of time before applying?
See answer to Q3.
Also note that some trans women oppose removing this requirement on the grounds that it would undermine the seriousness of the process and devalue the experience they have gone through in transitioning.
Question 6: (A) Do you think this requirement should be retained, regardless of what other changes are made to the gender recognition system?
See answer to Q3.
I believe that public respect for this process requires requires a genuine commitment to be made and evidenced.
(B) If you answered yes to (A), do you think that the statutory declaration should state that the applicant intends to ‘live permanently in the acquired gender until death’?
Question 7: The Government is keen to understand more about the spousal consent provisions for married persons in the Gender Recognition Act. Do you agree with the current provisions?
Please explain the reasons for your answer. If you think the provisions should change, how do you think they should be altered?
People get married on the understanding that their spouse is a particular sex. For this to change obviously affects the relationship. This may also provide an additional safeguard for the person transitioning.
Question 8: (A) Do you think the fee should be removed from the process of applying for legal gender recognition?
(B) If you answered no to (A), do you think the fee should be reduced?
Question 9: Do you think the privacy and disclosure of information provisions in section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act are adequate?
Question 10: If you are someone who either has, or would want to undergo legal gender transition, and you have one or more of the protected characteristics, which protected characteristics apply to you? You may tick more than one box.
Please give us more information about how your protected characteristic has affected your views on the GRC application process.
Question 12: Do you think that the participation of trans people in sport, as governed by the Equality Act 2010, will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?
That would depend how it is changed. If the current requirements are relaxed this could result in more men who have not and do not intend to go through any physical transition obtaining GRCs and expecting to compete in women’s sports.
The right of sports bodies to hold single-sex competitions, to base these on biological sex rather than legal or self-identified gender, and to make their own provisions for determining the sex of trans or intersex individuals must be retained.
It should be recognised that changing legal gender does not change biological sex and that in cases where biological sex is relevant it may be taken into account.
Question 13: (A) Do you think that the operation of the single-sex and separate-sex service exceptions in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?
If the current requirements are relaxed this could result in large numbers of men who have not and do not intend to go through any physical transition obtaining GRCs and expecting to obtain access to women’s services and women’s spaces. Conflicts over provision of women’s service could become much more frequent and divisive.
Single-sex spaces are important to protect women’s safety and dignity. The right to provide single-sex services and single-sex spaces must be retained and if necessary strengthened.
Question 14: Do you think that the operation of the occupational requirement exception in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?
If the current requirements are relaxed this could result in large numbers of people who have not and do not intend to go through any physical transition obtaining GRCs and seeking employment in traditionally single-sex occupations. Disputes over such employments could become much more frequent and divisive.
Question 15: Do you think that the operation of the communal accommodation exception in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?
If the current requirements are relaxed and this results in people who have not and do not intend to go through any physical transition obtaining GRCs then disputes over single-sex accommodation could become much more frequent and divisive.
Question 16: Do you think that the operation of the armed forces exception as it relates to trans people in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?
Question 17: Do you think that the operation of the marriage exception as it relates to trans people in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?
Q18, Q19, NA
Question 20: Do you think that there need to be changes to the Gender Recognition Act to accommodate individuals who identify as non-binary?
People are free to ‘identify’ however they like. But there is no need for gender identities other than male and female (corresponding to biological sex) to have recognition in law. Dozens (at least) of gender identities are now used. What would be the legal consequence of a ‘genderqueer’ gender identity? The law should stay out of this.
Question 21: (A) Do you have a variation in your sex characteristics?
As outlined in question 3, the Government wants to understand whether there should be any requirement in the future for a report detailing a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and any requirement for a report detailing treatment received.
(B) Would removing these requirements be beneficial to you?
(C) What other changes do you think are necessary to the GRA in order to benefit intersex people?
Please see answer to Q3.
Notwithstanding this I would agree with a separate process to amend a birth certificate where medical evidence is provided that sex was wrongly recorded at birth due to an intersex condition. I am not clear that this would need a GRC or a process of transitioning. This seems to me to a different issue from trans identity.