The UK Is Making It Harder for Trans People to Determine Their Own Gender
Trans people can currently circumvent a huge bureaucracy if they have documents from a list of recognized countries, but that list could dwindle soon.
The United Kingdom’s government is continuing its all-out attacks on trans people’s rights to exist, with a multifaceted crackdown on the process of self-identification in order to change one’s legal gender.
Kemi Badenoch, the UK’s Minister for Women and Equalities, announced on Monday that there were plans to review the list of countries that are currently eligible for equivalent exchanges of gender recognition certificates (GRCs), according to The Guardian. In other words, the UK may start cracking down on countries “where there is a clear indication that the country now no longer has a system at least as rigorous as those in the Gender Recognition Act 2004,” as Badenoch phrased it to the publication.
The Gender Recognition Act (GRA) technically allows some trans people to change their legal genders, but the process is in fact so rigorous that only 4,910 people had completed it between 2004 and 2018, according to data from the UK Government Equalities Office. Applicants are required to submit a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, a report from a medical professional detailing any medical treatments, and “proof” of having lived for at least two years as their gender, among other documents.
However, if the applicant’s gender has already been changed in another country that is on the list of approved countries, they can simply present that document without having to acquire extensive medical documentation.
Several countries on the list, including Germany, Denmark, and New Zealand, have established policies that allow trans people to change their legal gender markers simply via self identification, which is perhaps why Badenoch referenced countries that “no longer have a system at least as rigorous” as the GRA.
Stonewall U.K., the country’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy organization, said in a statement that ending reciprocal recognition for countries that allow for self-identification would be a “disgraceful low for the UK Government’s approach to LGBTQ+ rights.”
“Seeking to end this system is an extraordinary move, not based on evidence or experience, that will effectively serve as a ‘trans travel ban,’” the statement reads.
The organization also noted that the move comes at the same time that the UK government is simultaneously considering blocking Scotland’s recently passed Gender Recognition Reform Bill. The bill removes the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and allows trans people aged 16 and up to acquire a corrected GRC. However, according to the BBC, British conservatives have expressed “concerns” around the bill, with Scotland minister Alister Jack threatening to invoke a Section 35 order, which would effectively veto the Scottish law.
“Ending recognition of GRCs from as many as fourteen countries who are our close allies and seeking to block implementation of the Scottish GRR Bill have significant consequences for trans people who are directly affected,” representatives from Stonewall said. “But this also sends a message that the UK Government sees trans people as a threat to be contained, not citizens to be respected.”