The Government Equality Office (GEO) is proposing reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004. This Act enables transgender people to obtain legal recognition of their acquired gender by the issuing of a Gender Recognition Certificate and changing the sex on their birth certificate.

When the Act was introduced it was a world-leading piece of legislation. However, for some time there has been a growing sense of dissatisfaction with how the Act operates in practice. Many trans people find the process of recognition overly bureaucratic, intrusive and expensive. It is estimated that there are somewhere in the region of 20,000-50,000 trans people in the UK, yet fewer than than 5,000 Gender Recognition Certificates have been issued.

In light of this the GEO has launched a consultation and seeks views on:

  • the requirement for trans people to provide two medical reports: one showing a diagnosis of gender dysphoria; and the other outlining details of any treatment received. The GEO highlights that by requiring a psychiatric report the process may perpetuate the outdated, and false, assumption that being trans is a mental illness;
  • the requirement to provide documents that prove applicants have lived as their acquired gender for at least two years. This often involves providing financial and private information;
  • the requirement to declare an intention to live as their assumed gender until death;
  • the requirement for married applicants to obtain the consent of their spouse or end their marriage;
  • the cost of using the Act. Currently a Gender Recognition Certificate costs £140; and
  • how the Act protects the privacy of individuals who have applied.The consultation guidance also states that the GEO does not intend to change the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act 2010 provides protection for trans people against discrimination but it does allow some limited single-sex services, such as women’s refuge centres, to exclude trans people so long as that is done as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
  • The consultation is now open to everyone in England and Wales, until 19 October 2018. (Scotland had a similar consultation which ended in November 2017.) To take part in the consultation please click here.
  • The GEO hopes the consultation will clarify how best to make the process of Gender Recognition less intrusive and bureaucratic for trans people.