Gender recognition reforms shake the UK

A consultation into reforming how transgender people in the UK have their gender recognized ended this week.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
Gender recognition reforms shake the UK - NewsMavens
Pride parade in London. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

Controversial reforms proposed by the British government's equalities office aim to make it easier for transgender people to have their gender recognised.

The proposals, to allow people to change the gender on their birth certificate through self-identification, rather than having their gender recognized by two health professionals, have received widespread support and opposition over the past three months.

While transgender campaigners and their supporters have called for people to support the reforms to defend trans rights, others, including some women's groups and high-profile conservative columnists, oppose the changes.

The consultation had already received 53,000+ responses as of October 19, when the government extended the deadline to October 22 to allow more feedback to be submitted.

"We are committed to listening to all voices on this," the Government Equalities Office wrote.

Details from the story:

  • Reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (2004) were proposed by the Government Equalities Office in July to make it easier for transgender people to determine their sex on their birth certificate.
  • At present, to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate which allows someone to change their birth certificate, a person must prove their have been living in their preferred gender for two years and have two medical professionals confirm they have gender dysphoria.
  • But trans people and experts argue the current system is long-winded, intrusive and undermining to people who are already suffering.
  • Amnesty International UK responded to the consultation by pointing out that the process constitutes a violation of human rights.
  • The consultation process contained such divide that many groups have clashed over the debate at protests and events. Women on both sides of the debate say they feel silenced.
  • LGBT groups have seen the proposals as a chance to improve the rights of trans people. Opponents worry that such changes reduce the rights of women and put into question the legitimacy and existence of gender and what it means to "be a woman".
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