Two years ago, the government consulted on trans rights, and the people supported us. 102,818 people responded, everyone who cared enough to respond, and an overwhelming majority spoke up for us, even though the haters campaigned hard to get haters to respond. LGB folk spoke up for us- 40,500 responses came through Stonewall. Feminists spoke up for us- 6810 responses came through Level Up, a feminist campaign group against domestic violence. 650 organisations responded, mostly for trans people and trans rights. The survey analysis says that as respondents were self-selecting, it cannot be said to be representative of public opinion, but I say it can: it is those who cared enough to respond, who have a strong opinion on the matter, and they can influence the others. And now, 26 September, 128,000 people have signed a petition for self-declaration. Here is the analysis of responses.
It’s not clear how many were trans. 1131 had applied for a gender recognition certificate, but only 579 got one. They found the procedure bureaucratic, time-consuming, expensive. One did not complete the process as her GP had not written the letter within six months of the specialist consultant’s report, and she was told she would need a new consultant’s report, via a private appointment. It was dehumanising, humiliating and highly personal. It took an emotional toll. Some thought a GRC is not necessary as they could get their passport, driving licence, bank details and bills changed without.
What would a GRC mean? Validation, equal treatment, legal recognition of gender identity, peace of mind, privacy, and the right to marry in ones true gender. Some mentioned a death certificate in the true gender.
Should there be a requirement for a diagnosis of GD? 63.2% said no. 1.4% not answer. Autistic UK said, “It’s not a medical issue, why should trans people have to jump through so many hoops to prove who they are?” The Belfast Feminist Network wrote, “medical diagnosis is unnecessary and potentially discriminatory”. Several quoted WPATH: “medical and other barriers to gender recognition for transgender individuals may harm physical and mental health”. After ICD 11 comes into force, a diagnosis will be inappropriate.
As the report says, “a number of domestic abuse, sexual abuse or sexual assault support groups drew attention to the fact that trans women were also victims of gender-based violence, requiring support and help.”
Should there be a medical report detailing treatment received: 64% no, 20.3% not answered. A few trans thought it should be retained, saying changing sex legally should be a “big deal”, and not be any easier for anyone else than it was for them. That’s foolish. The more people see trans people, the more ordinary we get, the better for all of us. They were on the side of alleged “Christians”, full of feigned concern for detransitioners. But not everyone wants the risk of sterilisation hormones pose. Some can’t have treatment because of other conditions. And these things should be private, not paraded before a tribunal. Pathologising trans identities dehumanises us and invalidates us. A woman’s rights organisation said each trans person is “an expert in their life”. Why should our lives be scrutinised so much more than other people’s?
The Communication Workers’ Union said, “We believe the requirement for a medical report is demeaning, intrusive and distressing… burdensome and expensive.” Such a report could cost £100 or more.
Of those who answered, 78.6%, 64,260 people, said there should be no requirement for evidence of living in the acquired gender. A few said the evidence “demonstrated sincerity and commitment”, but that is demonstrated by the decision to transition, which no-one undertakes lightly. Why should it be harder than marriage is? That only requires 29 days’ notice. A few haters said that the two years “protects society” from trans people. But it can be difficult to get the evidence. If living with parents or partner, bills are not in your name, and they tend not to be paper anymore. You don’t have wage slips if you are self-employed.
The Law Society said there should be no “arbitrary time test”, which adversely affects young people.
Two years is too long: we live in a legal and social grey area. Cis people don’t need to prove themselves. Even of those who said there should be some delay period, some said it should be six months or less.
Should there be a “period of reflection” between applying and getting a GRC? No. People said we agonise over the decision before transition. It’s just another barrier.
People said trans people know our identity best, and legal recognition should be quick, transparent and accessible, like applying for a driving licence.
Should there be a Statutory Declaration, which has penalties for false statements? I said yes, along with 57.1% of respondents. Should it state that we intend to “live permanently in the acquired gender until death”? 55,780 answered, with a small majority for “No”, and respondents through Stonewall especially were against.
People said the process should be “simple, quick, cheap and accessible to anyone”, without additional evidence requirements, but have a level of gravity- there is ritual in affirming a Declaration, and it is good to have rituals around gender change. Having that ritual would normalise self-determination, making it more socially acceptable.
Some said the very concept of “safeguards to show seriousness of intent” was objectionable- it is the idea that people declaring our gender cannot be trusted.
60.0% objected to the current spousal consent rules, and only 10.7% were in favour. 48,610 people against the rules made further comments, such as, the requirement reduces the trans person’s autonomy. Gender is a personal matter.
NUS Women said, “Requiring trans people to gain the permission of their partner in order to legally change their gender allows abusive spouses to use their power to hold trans people’s identities hostage, potentially compounding other existing forms of abuse.”
Of those who answered, a majority said the fee should be removed. The fee for a marriage certificate is £10, for a name change £14. Cost is a barrier, and there are substantial other costs of transitioning. Alliance for Choice, which campaigns for abortion rights in Northern Ireland, pointed up costs of private medical reports.
Clyde & Co Ltd, a global law firm, said the offence of outing should be broadened to anyone who intentionally and maliciously discloses trans people’s protected information.
Gender recognition does not affect women’s spaces, which are protected by the Equality Act. However 33.5% of respondents to the consultation thought they would be. This ignorance may have made the opposition to gender recognition in the consultation higher.
Many respondents explained how women’s spaces would be unaffected. They said services undertook individual risk assessments on service users, and should exclude dangerous users, not trans women. Respondents said trans people had historically used women’s spaces without issues.
Galop, an LGBT anti-violence charity, said, “In Scotland in particular there has been a longstanding history of domestic and sexual violence services being inclusive of trans people (Stonewall Report 2018). Galop believes that lessons from this good practice can be learnt across the whole sector.”
While hate groups said including trans women affected statistics on women generally, the report says “respondents with statistical expertise highlighted the current practice of gender self-reporting, the low prevalence of being trans (and its statistical (in)significance in diverse datasets), and the balancing out as a result of trans women and men self-reporting their acquired gender.”
The report says that responses from providers of domestic violence support were generally positive. “Many thought that changes to the GRA would have no implications on their services, with some thinking the changes would even help them in seeking to offer a more inclusive service.” Many reported there had been few problems so far.
78 out of 130 organisations responding said they were confident to interpret the Equality Act restrictions on trans people. Some of the organisations saying they were not did not provide single sex services. Those who were confident said they had direct experience, or clear guidance in the organisation. Some said funders pressured them to be trans inclusive. If an organisation might want to exclude simply because a user is trans, that is a good thing.
Respondents said GRA reform would cause positive change in wider society, increasing gender equality, and more gender neutral spaces.
If only the government would take note of the consultation! A simple reform which would make life much easier for trans people is supported by the overwhelming majority of people who care about it. Feminist organisations step up and support us. The government, however, wants to foment culture war whenever possible, and does not pass up its chance to persecute trans people. More on this soon.