The government is currently consulting on whether or not to amend the Gender Recognition Act 2004, asking – amongst other things – if it should be easier for people to change their gender in England and Wales, and potentially forcing the Church to accept same-sex ‘marriage’. The proposed changes could both threaten religious freedom and punish people for telling the truth. Here, we give a quick guide to responding to the government’s consultation.
The government’s consultation on possible reforms to the Gender Recognition Act 2004 will close on 19 October 2018.
The questionnaire raises the possibility of several changes that would be harmful to society and clamp down on Christian freedoms.
Please respond to the consultation to highlight the problems with these plans. Below, you will find an explanation of the issues and the information you need to be able to respond yourself.
The government denies that gender dysphoria is a mental illness
The government says that it is persuaded by the argument that transgender people should be able to change legal gender easily and simply. It believes that being transgender is ‘not a mental illness’ and therefore that the legal recognition of a person’s new gender should not require a psychiatric diagnosis of gender dysphoria. This would mean that a person can change gender without a doctor certifying that they have any grounds to do so.
Undermining safeguarding, the criminal justice and security
Making gender change easier would have a major negative impact on safeguarding vulnerable people, and on the entire criminal justice system, including accurate recording of crime and adequate accommodation and treatment of offenders. It would also have adverse effects on matters of national security, including accurate records of people’s identity.
Threat to single-sex spaces
Churches and Christian organisations could find themselves having to accept biological males into female-only spaces such as dormitories, retreats, hostels and single-sex activities, and vice versa. This would go against the conscience and pastoral needs of clergy, lay workers, members, participants and service users. All this would undermine the Christian doctrine of creation and Biblical prohibitions on lying and cross-dressing.
Churches could be forced into same-sex weddings
Church ministers who hold to the biblical view of marriage (one man, one woman) could be forced to marry two people of the same sex, where one of the couple identifies with the opposite gender. Christians believe that this is, in reality, same-sex ‘marriage’ even though one person has ‘identified’ as the opposite sex or gender. Churches currently have an exemption allowing them to choose whether or not to accept weddings of this sort. The questionnaire raises the prospect of removing this exemption.
Threat to the nature of marriage
Currently, a spouse in a heterosexual marriage who wants to be recognised as a member of the opposite gender has to obtain the consent of the non-transgendered spouse or get divorced. Transgender activists have made it clear that they want this ‘spousal veto’ removed. This would mean that a heterosexual non-transgendered spouse would no longer be able to prevent their spouse from having their new gender recognised. They would be trapped against their will in a marriage which would legally become a ‘same-sex marriage’.
Forcing people to lie and punishing them for telling the truth
People would no longer need to have undergone medical treatment to try to look like a member of their chosen gender – ‘self-identification’ would be enough to make the change legal. The truth is that the tendency to lie about a person’s gender or to punish those who tell the truth will become much worse.
The government estimates up to half a million trans people in the UK
The government accepts the estimate that there may be between 200,000 and 500,000 transgender people in the UK. Whilst there are currently no official population estimates available for the transgender population, the very fact that the government accepts such a high estimate shows just how important the proposed changes to the law really are.
You can read our response to the government’s consultation for more specific answers. Below, we set out a quick guideline on how you can answer the consultation.
Please respond now to the government’s consultation and explain in your own words why these changes would be harmful.
Quick guide to responding to the consultation using your own words
|Tell the government to…
|Keep the requirement for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria
|Keep and tighten up provisions for spousal consent to gender recognition
|Change the law so that everybody is equal in terms of privacy rights regarding official data
|Refrain from making gender change easier as it will harm vulnerable people with disabilities
|Keep single-sex provisions in the Equality Act 2010 to safeguard single-sex facilities, services and spaces
|Keep the occupational requirement exception in the Equality Act 2010
|Keep the exception for communal accommodation being single-sex under the Equality Act 2010
|Allow the Armed Forces not to employ transexual people in certain roles according to the Equality Act 2010
|Keep permission under the Equality Act 2010 for clergy not to solemnise marriages for people who have changed gender
|Protect free speech, including the freedom to tell the truth and not to lie
|Refrain from plans to allow under-18s to gain gender recognition
|Refrain from plans to make it easier to change gender, as they will undermine safeguarding policy and procedures
|Protect the criminal justice system from the negative consequences of making it easier to change gender
|Shelve the idea of creating the right to identify as ‘non-binary’ (neither male nor female), as this would exacerbate all the existing problems thrown up by transgender rights as well as undermining marriage and family law, the effectiveness of border security worldwide, counter-terrorism and the work of the Armed Forces
|Commission an independent an assessment of the impact of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 on society