The government will complete a review to make it easier for people to change their legal gender, a source has said.
After reports that a public consultation on the matter had been abandoned, equalities minister Liz Truss is reportedly committed to completing the process in a way that has a ‘positive impact on the trans community in the UK’.
Former minister for women and equalities Penny Mordaunt had launched a public consultation into how transgender people change their legal gender on their birth certificates in July 2018. Under the existing Gender Recognition Act (GRA), a trans person has to wait for two years, undergo a review or appearance before a specialist panel and pay £140 before being able to change their gender legally.
A source close to the government’s plans refuted claims that Ms Truss had abandoned the review. They said: ‘The secretary of state is committed to following through with the consultation in due course.’
A Government Equalities Office (GEO) spokesperson said: ‘The secretary of state has only recently taken on this brief and will be carefully considering all responses and the next steps. These will be announced in due course. LGBT charity Stonewall says the current sysyem is costly and inaccessible to many trans people ‘It is vital that the next steps on any potential reform of the Gender Recognition Act are carefully planned, and have the right backing so they can have a positive impact on the trans community in the UK.’ LGBT campaigners have called for the current system to be replaced with a simpler statutory declaration and self-identification. They say transgender people currently face a two-tier system.
Access to single-sex services such as hospital wards are covered under the Equality Act 2010, which says a transgender person’s gender identity should be taken into account when using segregated services, rather than their sex on their birth certificate. The current process is also said to cause problems with marriage and death certificates and does not allow for the legal recognition of non-binary people.
LGBT charity Stonewall director of campaigns, policy and research Laura Russell said: ‘Currently, trans people must go through a lengthy and demeaning process to have their gender legally recognised. ‘It’s not just distressing, it’s complex, costly and inaccessible to many trans people. ‘Replacing this process with a system of self-determination would be life-changing for many trans people and a crucial step towards ensuring the UK’s gender recognition laws are in line with international best practice.’ Dawn Butler, shadow secretary for women and equalities, criticised the Government for the delays in publishing the consultation, originally expected in mid-2019.
Ms Butler said: ‘Boris Johnson’s government have failed to publish the consultation results and are deliberately creating a hostile environment for transgender people. ‘We must put a stop to this irresponsible behaviour. Almost half of trans people in Britain have attempted suicide at least once and 84% have thought about it. ‘A Labour government will help save lives not ruin them. We will champion rights for LGBT+ communities across the UK and reform the Gender Recognition Act.