UNISON GUIDE ON RESPONDING TO THE CONSULTATION ON REFORM OF THE GENDER RECOGNITION ACT
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) governs how trans people can have their identity legally recognised. This was groundbreaking in its time, but it is now seriously out of date and needs reform.
The Government is holding a public consultation on reform of the GRA. The full details of the consultation are here https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act-2004
UNISON believes that the current procedure for legal gender recognition is humiliating, bureaucratic and expensive. It requires trans people to go through intrusive medical assessments and interviews with psychiatrists in order to ‘prove’ their gender identity. It requires trans people to have a formal diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’, to live in their ‘acquired gender’ for two years, and submit evidence supporting all of this to a gender recognition panel (who have never met the applicant) who have the power to approve, or deny, an application. UNISON is fundamentally opposed to the idea that a panel of ‘experts’ can sit in judgement of a person’s gender identity.
People who are non-binary (they don’t identify as either male or female) don’t have any legal recognition at all under the current GRA. You also have to be 18 to get recognition of your gender identity under the current law.
UNISON supports calls for a self-declaration process, in line with international best practice, open to under 18s, and providing legal recognition for people with a non-binary gender identity
The GRA is separate from the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act provides trans people with protection against discrimination, but it also contains exceptions that permit the exclusion of trans people from single sex services, facilities and occupations if this is it is a proportionate means to achieve a legitimate aim. There has been a great deal of alarmist and misleading information from some groups and in the media claiming that reforming the GRA will mean an end to these exceptions. However, the Government has made it clear that it is not reviewing the Equality Act, so these exceptions will remain.
In Scotland, gender recognition is a devolved matter. The Scottish Government has already held its own consultation, and thousands of people responded. You can see information on the responses, including the submissions from UNISON Scotland here http://www.unison-scotland.org/library/UNISON-response-to-Scottish-GRA-consultation.pdf
We can expect there will also be thousands of responses to the Government’s consultation. We need allies as well as trans people to fill in this survey so please take the time to do so. You have until October 19th at 11pm but if you would like more guidance you can find further information and guidance on the Stonewall website https://www.stonewall.org.uk/gender-recognition-act and the LGBT Foundation website https://lgbt.foundation/gra
You can submit your response online through the government website: https://consult.education.gov.uk/government-equalities-office/reform-of-the-gender-recognition-act/