Prior to the introduction of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 the law in relation to transgendered people was antiquated with case law dating back to 1970. In 2002 the cases of I v United Kingdom and Goodwin v United Kingdom placed pressure on the Government stating that the European Convention on Human Rights was in contravention of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) Article 12 (right to marry) and Article 14 (protection from discrimination).

Some 11 years later the case of Bellinger v Bellinger [2003] eventually declared the incompatibility and along came the GRA 2004.

This Act allows transgendered people to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC) confirming their new identity for all purposes. A GRC enables them to apply for a new birth certificate in their acquired gender. However, the process is not as straightforward as it may first appear.

In order for the person to obtain a GRC (using the standard route) they must apply to the Gender Recognition Panel. As part of their application they are required to submit a statutory declaration confirming that they have been living in their acquired gender for at least two years and that they intend to live in their acquired gender for the rest of their life. They are also required to obtain two medical reports confirming a diagnosis of gender dysphoria (discomfort with birth gender).

The current process has become a topic of debate recently with some calling for the “bureaucratic” and “demeaning” process to be reviewed.  There were suggestions of a new process of ‘self ID’ which would remove the need for the diagnosis and documentary evidence.

Unfortunately Ministers formally rejected the proposals today. Liz Truss Women and Equalities Minister commented stating that gender self-recognition was ‘not the top priority’ for transgender people. She also claimed that the current 2004 Act provides ‘proper checks’ while still supporting those who want to change their legal gender.

The Act that was created to extinguish incompatibility with human rights is said by some, to once again be infringing people’s human rights.

The fight was lost this time around but as we have seen previously, law reform is possible. Although it did take over five decades so here’s hoping it happens before 2070!

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