The Women and Equalities Committee of the House of Commons has opened a new inquiry challenging the government’s transgender policy. It does not want to accept the government’s decision not to make changing gender easier in England and Wales. It is clear that the focus is on advancing transgender rights; not on safeguarding women’s and girls’ rights.
Below, we explain how you can respond to the inquiry’s Call For Evidence in writing. The deadline for responding is Friday 27 November.
Guidelines for submitting written evidence to Parliamentary committees can be found here.
- In particular, please note that there is a 3,000 word limit.
- You are not permitted to mention ongoing legal cases.
- You are permitted to discuss personal experiences you have with the issues raised in the questions.
- Please ensure that you use your own words, as material that has been published elsewhere is not permitted. This means that you should not simply copy and paste your responses to the government consultation on the Gender Recognition Act
Guide for responding
The questions asked by the inquiry cover many of the same topics as the consultation for reforming the Gender Recognition Act in England and Wales. It is worth answering most of them. We have copied the questions out below, indicating basic points worth making. In each case, if you have personal experience of handling the issues the questions ask about, the committee is interested in hearing from you.
Terms of reference of inquiry
The Government’s response to the GRA consultation
Will the Government’s proposed changes meet its aim of making the process “kinder and more straight forward”?
Should a fee for obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate be removed or retained? Are there other financial burdens on applicants that could be removed or retained?
Should the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria be removed?
No. The reason for this is that gender dysphoria is a serious mental health problem for those affected, and is often linked to other mental health problems. Patients need to be able to see psychiatrists in order to discover whether the gender dysphoria is their main problem or whether it is secondary to other problems.
Should there be changes to the requirement for individuals to have lived in their acquired gender for at least two years?
What is your view of the statutory declaration and should any changes have been made to it?
Any statutory declaration regarding a person’s decision to change gender should be worded so that it admits that nobody can change their biological sex. The declaration should also be worded to admit that some people may regret their decisions in the future, and that they acknowledge that at this present time there are no official NHS pathways to help such regretters.
Does the spousal consent provision in the Act need reforming? If so, how? If it needs reforming or removal, is anything else needed to protect any rights of the spouse or civil partner?
No, it does not need reforming. It needs to be safeguarded in law.
Should the age limit at which people can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) be lowered?
No, it should not be. The Women and Equalities Committee needs to explain publicly why it is asking this question. The issue of under-18s changing gender is highly controversial and is the subject of a current court case the judgment for which has yet to be made. This court case could decide the future of physical gender reassignment, itself closely linked to gender recognition. As such the Committee should not be asking this question, as it conflicts with the stated prohibition on submissions mentioning ongoing court cases.
What impact will these proposed changes have on those people applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate, and on trans people more generally?
The government’s proposals will protect people from gender change being too easy. They will send out a message that the government understands grave concerns expressed about this from many different quarters, including doctors, mental health professionals, parents and detransitioners.
What else should the Government have included in its proposals, if anything?
The government should have asked for people’s views on the possibility of creating official healthcare pathways for people who desist from taking cross-sex hormones, and for people who regret undergoing gender reassignment surgery and want to detransition. It is scandalous that over the 54 years since the first gender identity clinic was opened in the UK, no such pathways have been created on the NHS.
Does the Scottish Government’s proposed Bill offer a more suitable alternative to reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004?
No, it does not.
Wider issues concerning transgender equality and current legislation
Why is the number of people applying for GRCs so low compared to the number of people identifying as transgender?
This question appears to assume that the number of people applying for Gender Recognition Certificates should be higher. Policies of successive governments are likely to be responsible for the discrepancy. The Equality Act 2010 stretched the meaning of gender reassignment, thus enabling people to identify as transgender without having yet had a GRC. Governments did nothing to stem the influence of transgender activist groups writing policies in and for healthcare and educational institutions after the Gender Recognition Act was passed.
Are there challenges in the way the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Equality Act 2010 interact? For example, in terms of the different language and terminology used across both pieces of legislation.
The Equality Act 2010 stretched the definition of gender reassignment. It also introduced gender reassignment as a protected characteristic in schools. Given that the Gender Recognition Act stipulates that gender recognition is only allowed for those aged 18 and over, this means the Equality Act undermined the safeguarding provisions of the Gender Recognition Act.
Are the provisions in the Equality Act for the provision of single-sex and separate-sex spaces and facilities in some circumstances clear and useable for service providers and service users? If not, is reform or further guidance needed?
Wider reform of the law is necessary to align the law with biological reality. Sex should be defined in law as based on chromosomes. Everybody who has a Y chromosome is male, everybody who doesn’t have one is female.
Does the Equality Act adequately protect trans people? If not, what reforms, if any, are needed?
The Equality Act like the Gender Recognition Act provides no protection for detransitioners, i.e. people who regret having changed gender and want to return to live as members of their biological sexes. Both acts need to be amended to do this.
What issues do trans people have in accessing support services, including health and social care services, domestic violence and sexual violence services?
The general lack of official help for desisters and detransitioners cannot be good for support services. Health and social care services for these people are non-existent because of the Memorandum of Understanding on Conversion Therapy in the UK prohibiting therapy that assumes one gender identity is preferable to another.
Are legal reforms needed to better support the rights of gender-fluid and non-binary people? If so, how?
No, they are not needed. They would be counterproductive in every way. They would perpetuate psychological confusion and physical health problems. The Home Office has already admitted in court that gender-neutral passports, a corollary of rights to identify as gender-fluid or non-binary, would lower the efficacy of border security internationally.