The Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC) has launched an Inquiry into reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). The Inquiry asks for evidence in two areas:
1. The government response to the Gender Recognition Act consultation. This rejected proposals for a ‘self-ID’ system and retained the checks and balances in the GRA, such as the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate.
2. Wider issues concerning transgender equality and current legislation.
You can read the WESC Inquiry call for evidence here. You can answer as many or as few questions as you like, just focus on the ones with the most relevance for you. Evidence can include your own experience (as a parent, teacher or clinical professional for example) and you can include links to studies or news reports etc. (but not evidence from ongoing court cases).
Below we have listed the most relevant questions you may want to answer and included a few links you may find useful.
Should the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria be removed?
Should there be changes to the requirement for individuals to have lived in their acquired gender for two years?
Should the age limit at which people can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) be lowered?
These three questions are an opportunity to provide evidence about children and young people. For reference, you may find it helpful to read our post about the government consultation where we explain how these changes would impact clinicians and the children in their care.
If no diagnosis of gender dysphoria is required in order to change your sex on your birth certificate the government would be coding gender ideology into British law. The law would say a man is a woman if he says he is; that ‘gender identity’ overrides biological sex.
You may want to include evidence here about how this idea is already harming children and should not be validated in law. The question about ‘living in your acquired gender’ reveals how regressive the idea is, by the suggestion that there is a set way for a girl to live and a set way for a boy to live, which can only be based on prescribed gender roles.
Along with the reinforcement of gender stereotypes, the idea of ‘gender identity’ has already led to the erosion of all sexual boundaries in schools and girls’ organisations, where boys may access female-only spaces without girls’ consent. ‘Living as a girl’ should not include access to areas separated on the basis of biological sex.
Lowering the age at which a person can apply for a GRC to 16 would change the legal sex of a teenage boy to ‘female’, which would make it harder work for a school to maintain separate sex spaces for girls. It would have a big impact on adolescents by reinforcing the message that sex is irrelevant, and it would inevitably impact on therapists and clinicians who may be unable to refuse hormones to a girl who is legally male. It would also cement the experimental ‘affirmation’ approach towards children struggling with gender confusion.
Professionals are already concerned about the lack of adequate investigation before medical intervention and this would make the situation even worse. The inevitable result will be more young people who regret their transition but are left with lifelong consequences. The government should not be encouraging young people to believe that biological sex means nothing.
Does the spousal consent provision in the Act need reforming?
This is an important question for the partners of men who transition. The spousal consent provision in the Gender Recognition Act should not be changed, it is a protection for women who want to leave a marriage that has fundamentally changed. The support group Trans Widows Voices says: “The Spousal Exist Clause ensures that heterosexual Trans Widows do not find themselves in legally same sex marriages that they did not sign up to.” See their guide here.
Wider issues concerning transgender equality and current legislation
Are there challenges in the way the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Equality Act 2010 interact? For example in the different language and terminology used across both pieces of legislation?
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 further reform or guidance needed?
The government must ensure that schools and service providers understand that ‘sex’ and ‘gender reassignment’ are two distinct protected characteristics and cannot be treated as one and the same. The wording of the Gender Recognition Act is confusing as a Gender Recognition Certificate gives the right to change the sex on your birth certificate, not your ‘gender’.
Sex based rights and protections for girls and women are being eroded because of the conflation of the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. The government needs to provide clear guidance on the Equality Act: that ‘sex’ is a protected characteristic, it refers to biological sex (not ‘gender’) and it protects the rights of girls and women as the female sex.
Here you can provide more evidence about the erosion of single-sex spaces and facilities, including girls’ schools, toilets, changing-rooms, women’s refuges, rape counselling services, prisons and sport, and the damaging impact this is having on the rights and freedoms of women and girls. You may want to provide evidence from your child’s school and the training they have received from lobby groups such as Stonewall and Allsorts. Check if your school’s Equalities policy uses the term ‘gender’ instead of ‘sex’.
Clear guidance is urgently needed from the EHRC so that schools feel confident in providing lawful separate sex facilities, protecting girls’ sports, teaching biological facts, resisting the corruption of language and protecting pupils’ rights to freedom of speech and belief. The Gender Recognition Act should not weaken the Equality Act protected characteristic ‘sex’ and it is up to the government to ensure that it doesn’t.
You don’t have to write an essay but it is important that the WESC has evidence of the impact of ‘gender identity’ policies from as many people as possible so please take the opportunity to make your views known.