Law and society

Some trans women want it to be difficult to get a gender recognition certificate, not knowing it is irrelevant in real life.

The fee to the Gender Recognition Panel has been reduced to around £10, and the response was mostly a yawn. We still need a letter from a specialist psychiatrist on an approved list, which might cost hundreds. I commented that ICD 11 confirms I am not ill. Why should I need a doctor, to confirm I am not ill in a particular way?

S. said there should be medical involvement. What about someone still on the waiting list, who has been expressing themself in their true gender for two years? She said they would be able to get a GRC. When T. corrected her- you need a psychiatrist from the “T493 list”- she said “Whilst the current system in place is perhaps not ideal for everyone, it does work successfully for the majority”. She has “come out the other side all smiles”.

J. has just had a referral for GRS, and is “glad there are checks and balances in place”. B. has just had GRS and getting her GRC was “the simplest”. T. commented the current policy is wrong, especially with waiting lists as long as they are now, and a longer wait for the second interview after which you might get hormones. Private waiting lists are lengthening too.

This was an argument between trans women on the medical route. Three of us, whether we had completed it or not, cared about those waiting. Three had completed it, or almost, and did not. The lack of empathy, with people who were in a position these women had been in quite recently, saddens me. Two had left trans groups, “attacked by the trans police”- or, challenged for their too-rigid views.

One characterised “self-identification” as a “camp male with a beard who insists they are lesbian, but don’t intend physical transition”. So, how does the law affect how society treats such people?

Imagine Dave, a cross-dresser turned on by appearing female, who thinks transsexuals are a class apart and has no intention to socially transition. His pronouns are he/him, most of the time. Dave goes to the pub dressed female, and into a women’s loo.

People can’t tell if Dave is protected under the law or not. He could be someone who has decided to transition but is not that good at expressing female yet. Or Dave, after years of practice, might look more feminine than some trans women. So most people will not object. He’s not protected under the law, and if he wanted to sue a pub that would not let him in he would have to lie, but he usually won’t have any problem out in public. People might not know details of the law beyond a vague idea that trans people are protected, and won’t have any reason to believe he is not.

If he does something objectionable, people might object, but not because he is “only” a cross-dresser. Trans people can be excluded from spaces, generally in circumstances when cis people would be excluded too.

Now consider Stephanie, who has had GRS and has a GRC. If she is read as a trans woman, an anti-trans campaigner might object to her in the women’s loo. She is protected by the law, but that does not guarantee she will not face bigotry.

Even in South Carolina under the “bathroom bill”, a cross-dresser might get away with going into a women’s loo. If anyone noticed they might not want the effort of objecting. Sometimes women with a masculine appearance face objection. It’s a matter of luck.

Sandra is still on the waiting list for the gender clinic, so can’t get a GRC, but has changed her name and is now expressing herself female. She can get a bank card and driving licence in her new name. She can get a passport marked F- she may need to change GP. A GRC might make slight technical differences to her rights to marry, but otherwise would be useless. The law already treats her as a woman. Mostly, society will too. For the law to say she is a woman is very little more. That’s what a gender recognition certificate means. Already, she would have a good discrimination claim against a business excluding her from its women’s changing rooms.

Harnaam Kaur, a cis woman with a genetic anomaly and a full beard, might be stared at, or face objections in the women’s loo, but a beard does not make her a man.

What would GRC reform achieve? It would be the law, which helps to mould society, acknowledging trans people. It would be symbolic but would have a real effect on society as a whole. What does the denial of GRC reform, and the loud campaign of Tories and Republicans, achieve? A moral panic, and increased hostility to trans people whether we have had surgery or not. Their refusal to modernise the law, and insistence on “checks and balances”, produces unjust suspicion against post-operative trans women as well as cross-dressers.

Here’s Abigail Thorn. I am a fan. I looked at her oldest currently available video when she did not have a decent microphone, but was developing her comedy and clarity of explanation of complex concepts, already at a high standard. Now she has professional recording equipment, a studio, props. Her Amy Coney Barrett video, with her male voice but looking feminine, feels so strange.

She says there is a difference between passing as a cis woman and being seen as feminine so read as a woman. She says when she first went out dressed female she was seen as a bloke in women’s clothes, then later she was seen as a woman, even if as a trans woman. I find her charismatic- she seemed an attractive man, with that beard, but now is gorgeous. Her voice is warm and lovely, and the few hints of sounding like a counter-tenor will fade away. I am feeling self-conscious about my appearance. And, usually, I am treated with reasonable courtesy. My GRC does not affect that at all.

3 thoughts on “Law and society

  1. I had procrastinated and practiced my presentation, alone, for so long that I think my first public outing was better than the guy-in-a-dress thing. Otherwise, I totally agree with Abigail Thorn. While I may be aware that some (OK, most) people will see me as being a transgender woman, I am seeing myself as a woman. There are so many adjectives, other than transgender, that I would like people to perceive as worthy in describing the woman I am. Smart, witty, caring, funny, and even pretty, are what I try to project. If transgender should still be used, it almost always will only be, at worst, the second adjective. At best, we’ll forget the trans thing altogether.

    Liked by 1 person

      • No, a psychiatrist’s analysis is not necessary for one to know that they are trans. By the time a trans person has jumped through all the governmental hoops, though, a psychiatrist’s services may well have become necessary. Imagine what would happen if a politician would be required to acquire a psychiatrist’s letter before assuming their official position in government. Really, though, they should have to get one before even declaring candidacy. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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