Kemi Badenoch and international gender recognition

The government proposes to take away legal rights from trans people. This is new. Previously, they have denied our legal rights, or proposed additional rights only to refuse them, or threatened to block rights. Now, the Minister “for” women and equalities, Kemi Badenoch, proposes to take rights away. But, will this happen? Probably not. If it did, would it affect any trans people? No.

The Scottish GRR Bill proposes to recognise the gender of people who have changed gender in their country of origin automatically, but now anyone who comes to the UK after a gender change has to apply for another GRC, under GRA s1(1)(b).

Immigrants can get a British GRC if they already have GR abroad. They need evidence of that GR, probably some sort of official document, and a statutory declaration of whether they are married or in a civil partnership. They need to be from a country or territory approved in a list. That list is in The Gender Recognition (Approved Countries and Territories) Order 2011. It includes most of the US, Australia, Canada, and EU, and some other Council of Europe countries. It includes South Africa, South Korea and Uruguay.

Kemi Badenoch proposes to remove those countries if their GR system is not “equivalently rigorous” to the English system. She writes, “It should not be possible for a person who would not satisfy the criteria to obtain UK legal gender recognition to use the overseas recognition route to obtain a UK Gender Recognition Certificate. This would damage the integrity and credibility of the process of the Gender Recognition Act.”

This does not affect Scottish GRCs under the new system. They will still be UK GRCs. But someone from Uruguay or Malta, say, with GR at home, would need a diagnosis by a specialist psychiatrist. That makes no sense, and doctors object. This is ridiculous. The English system has no credibility.

From the UN report on gender identity, these countries use self-declaration: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, and Uruguay.

So, what if someone trans from that list comes to the UK after the UK no longer recognises their GR?

Well, they will still have their original passport, which will give their correct gender. If their driver’s licence is recognised, you don’t need a GRC to get a British licence showing your correct gender (it’s coded in the driver number). If they get “Indefinite leave to remain” in the UK, then they still use their original passport. If they get British citizenship, gender on the passport does not require a GRC.

If they get married, their gender on the marriage certificate will matter to them, but might not require a GRC. Would a registrar insist on writing that a trans woman bride’s previous status was “bachelor” rather than “spinster”?

If they married abroad, that should be recognised whether their gender is recognised or not. Britain recognises gay marriages. England recognises a foreign marriage if it was valid according to local law when it was carried out, and if any previous marriages of the parties were dissolved in a way English law recognises.

Certainly it won’t affect what toilets they use, or even if they can use a women’s refuge.

The GRP gives statistics of the number of GRCs granted, but not whether they are granted to British people or to immigrants. There were 256 in July to September 2022.

Possibly, nobody will be affected by the new regulation. The government, unable to govern the country or avoid recession, resorts to mindless posturing. If they wanted to take action about sexual violence they could fund refuges or prosecute rape. There is no potential incident of sexual violence now, which would be prevented by the regulation. It is done solely for Badenoch to pretend to be protecting cis women by reducing trans rights, and demonise trans people.

They are removing trans people’s rights. They have not done this before. It is the first time LGBT+ legal rights have gone backwards in the UK since Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988.

But, the regulation cannot be introduced without a vote approving it in Parliament. This is the procedure. First, it would go to the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. They must ensure it is legal. They should recognise that it breaches human rights and international human rights treaties, and block it.

If it got past that committee, it would be referred to a Delegated Legislation Committee, where any MP can speak. In rare cases, SIs go to the House of Commons for a debate.

If passed, the regulation could be challenged by seeking judicial review. The challenger would have to be a native of one of the countries removed. They might not need to have had their gender changed, or even to be trans. They could show that a potential right had been removed, and argue this was wrong.

It makes me terribly sad. Kemi Badenoch does this not to prevent sexual violence but to attack trans people and foment culture war. The civil service time spent looking at other countries’ GR procedure could be used to imitate them, but instead is used to condemn.

The Scottish Daily Express linked their report to the GRR Bill. The Times claimed that this would allow Westminster to cease to recognise Scottish GRCs, but there is no such power in the Gender Recognition Act. The Guardian did a hostile article, calling it a “trans travel ban”. Well, it is quite unpleasant if New Zealand recognises your transition but your paperwork reverts when you come to the UK. You would still be socially transitioned but there would be this state hostility to your transition.

19 thoughts on “Kemi Badenoch and international gender recognition

  1. This seems part of the endemic posturing of a government in its death throes but, alas, still with their corpse-like hand on the tiller. And a desperate effort to inflict some pain and worry, however small and unnecessary (even impossible to carry through), on trans people – to stoke the hatred and froth enough to keep it going and remind people that ttrans-people are a “threat” to something somehow. Maintain the narrative, emulate the US Republicans one last time, for some reason.

    It won’t materially change anything, as you say, but it does make the UK obviously anti-trans, which is the goal here, I think. Most people here assume that trans-rights are actually pretty good, that to transition is a simple process and that’s just fine. When I mention years long waiting lists to be seen I am met with genuine surprise and shock, but this gives way to a nonchalant shrug and the same reaction the next time it comes up, as if they hear it again for the first time. Badewnoch’s, and the TERFs/GCs generally, mistake is to mine for virulent hatred in their moves rather than cold indifference. Maybe that will be their undoing – most people are warm to trans-people, but unwilling to take action – so to mine for hatred may evoke something stronger than sympathy in time.

    Goodness, I have left a wall of text here! It is meant as hopeful and to thank you, once again, for the time and effort you put into to keeping us all informed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Their tactic to produce virulent hatred, or fear, is to pretend that trans rights are so generous that “predatory men” are using them, or might use them, to attack women and children.

      All we can do is watch. I hope Labour would make English gender recognition easier if elected.

      Walls of text are fine by me. Always good to hear from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Puzzling how they think this will actually work in practice. For me, a Canadian, my birth certificate has been formally amended to reflect my gender, there is no special certificate, and all of my provincial and federal documentation says “F” on it. The UK would have no documentation available from me, or Canada, that has an “M” on it, unless they plan on refusing to recognize birth certificates now. Now that would be a wild one!

    The other thing, from the perspective of someone who used to spend a significant amount of time in London and Birmingham pre-COVID and pre-transition, I would not currently travel to the UK. It’s mostly a function of feeling safe, just as I wouldn’t generally travel to much of the US now. The level of mindless hate being directed at trans people simply keeps me away. It’s shame too, I really do love central London, but I’ll have to wait for something less putrid than what is in Westminster and 10 Downing today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am sorry you are not coming here. It is our loss.

      Unfortunately, yes- they refuse to recognise birth certificates, and always have. As soon as you land in London, despite your passport, bc and any other documents, English law calls you male. It would not stop you using women’s services, despite what the haters say, but if you wanted your gender formally recognised in England you would need a British GRC. You would use the s1(1)(b) procedure- you would just have to prove you had GR in Canada. But if your province or territory now has self-declaration, Badenoch proposes to stop recognising its gender recognition, so to have your gender recognised in England you would need a diagnosis from one of the psychiatrists on the British approved list.

      The sane reform would be to recognise your gender as what your country of birth, or usual home country, calls it- but the UK has never done that and Scotland can’t now. But it does not affect day-to-day use of services.


      • I’m still missing how that works. How would English law call me “male” in absence of any information that says that? Someone at the border arbitrarily assigns genders based on inspection? I’m still lost on that in practice as for British law to determine a gender on its own there would have to be someone making a decision to assign that.


        • English law would not call you “male” unless someone asked it to think about it. Possibly if you made a claim for sex discrimination (but not gender reassignment discrimination). Possibly if you wanted to get married here. Most of the time, people look at you, they react to you based on cliches and first impressions, or a deep understanding of privilege and the kyriarchy, or whatever it is they do. It’s kind of like floating in the atmosphere, unspoken until someone speaks it.


          • That was where I was going with respect to “in practice” here. Even under the circumstances you describe, somebody would have arbitrarily decide and/or order special medical exams based on a dispute of my information because they decided I was insufficiently feminine or something. I could see that leading to big lawsuits because that would get a lot more cis women than trans! Otherwise, I would assume that they would take my legal documentation from Canada at face value.

            Feels like, as usual, the transphobes are operating under the “we can always tell” idiocy that they cling to.


            • I don’t know how well you “pass”, I hate the concept, but suppose you walk into a women’s loo and someone thinks you are trans. In practice, they probably won’t care enough to object, even if they think you’re a man. But suppose they did. If you were excluded from that loo, you might raise a claim of discrimination under the Equality Act. It would have to be discrimination on the ground of gender reassignment- you are not, obviously, being excluded because you are female.

              Suppose you got a job here, there was a man paid more than you for the same job, and you wanted to claim equal pay. The lawyers for the respondents might want to know, what was your gender assigned at birth, and whether you had a British GRC. They would not need a medical examination. Would you lie to them? Would you risk perjury? Then the court might find that according to English law you are male, and therefore the appropriate comparator in a sex discrimination case would be a woman.

              It is all the more certain that according to English law you are male when in England, because there is a procedure for changing that. There would be no need for such a procedure if English law recognised the Canadian gender change without it. And if Kemi removes Canada from the list of countries to which s1(1)(b) applies, you would need a diagnosis from a British psychiatrist.


    • Not yet. The last day they can try is Thursday 19th. Then there would be a challenge in court, which would take months. But, the British government has never blocked a Scottish government Bill, so it would have far greater consequences for Independence than for trans people.


        • They might calculate that increasing Scottish support for Independence would reduce Labour votes in Scotland more than Conservative votes. I don’t think they want any long term goals for the good of the country, such as, preserving the Union. If they wanted to preserve the Union with Northern Ireland they are not going about it sensibly. I think they just want power.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. In the end I see excessive gate keeping more about deligitimizing because there is still a predominance in thinking that trans people are ill. In the US one state is proposing a bill to deny trans care to anyone under 26 which would infringe on their rights under the American constitution. Add everything up around the world and its more about protecting the masses from us.


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