The government have published their much delayed response to the consultation for reform of the gender recognition act. I am saddened to read that no substantive changes to that outdated piece of legislation will be forthcoming although it is nice to be reminded that “the Equality Act clearly protects transgender people from discrimination.”
Trans people have been dragged through the court of vitriol and the subjected to the worst of human nature because the government consulted us and we said that it would be nice if they could make our lives a little better, a little easier and yet that was not enough. This very private matter was deemed to be “a threat”, but to whom I still do not know.
I am saddened, but un-surprised to read that self identification is not even mentioned, yet anyone who is trans or who knows a trans person knows that self identification is at the very core of our understanding of our gender identity. Getting a gender recognition certificate is a personal matter, and it really only matters to that person and a very few close confidants. It’s a legal declaration that you are who you are, that’s all, and yet that is also everything. The freedom to live, to gain employment, to get married without being outed, without everyone knowing your past, that is the right that we all have, but the right that is denied to many trans people.
I’m afraid that it is the very conflation of the Equality Act and the Gender Recognition Act that drove the fear and discrimination which has resulted in the watering down of the reforms to a reduction in costs and the promise of online applications to make the process easier. I don’t believe an increase in Gender Identity Clinics will resolve the emphasis that has falsely been placed on genitals to determine gender identity and the externalisation of what it means to be transgender.
For many trans people genital affirmation surgery (GAS) is life saving, life affirming, but for many it is not and should not be necessary. GAS should be the icing, not what strangers insist on so that you can prove your right to a gender label that for most people was correctly assigned at birth. How will the board of complete strangers decide on your right to self determination, on your authenticity if you do not have GAS, if you have a non-dysphoric relationship with your genitals? Will they turn you down, without chance of appeal, despite having lived in your affirmed gender for decades?
I hope that the government will continue to monitor the number of applications for Gender Recognition Certificates, and to monitor the decisions of the panel. I challenge future governments to accurately represent and respect trans peoples needs, lives and right to privacy and to reopen this issue, but this time with compassion and with trans people at the heart of everything that is done.
Chrysalis is not going to give up, we will continue to develop understanding, acceptance and social change through education and outreach. We will be out there showing everyone that it really is OK to be you, that your authenticity is worthy of respect. We will continue to help people to obtain their Gender Recognition Certificates and we will be there to remind those in authority of when their processes aren’t working.
Chief Executive Officer