Frequently Asked Questions

“The Government believes that transgender adults should be free to live their lives as they wish, with dignity and free from discrimination.” It appears that the Government believes trans people are a useful hate-group, to divert attention from their disastrous mismanagement of Covid, Brexit and the economy. That’s what the Sunday Times article indicates. When the first sentence after “Thank you for your correspondence” bears no relation to the facts indicated by Government statements, I feel queasy unreality and my fear is heightened, not damped down. Some of the answers are slightly reassuring.

“We are currently dealing with an extremely high volume of enquiries about the Gender Recognition Act, the single-sex exemptions under the 2010 Equality Act and about healthcare for transgender people.” Well, that’s what happens when the minister makes a statement indicating she will trample on trans rights- trans people, allies and phobes start writing.

“Changes are intended to make the process of applying for a gender recognition certificate (GRC) less bureaucratic.” The Scottish government proposed granting one on affirming a statutory declaration before a solicitor or JP. That would be considerably less bureaucratic. Not having to provide evidence of using your real name for two years would be a start. Not having to provide medical evidence would be an indication that the government realised no-one does this on a whim, and no-one would do it to attack women. They want to ensure applying is still “a serious and meaningful undertaking”- well, the Scottish proposals achieve that.

Is the Sunday Times correct? They’re not telling. “We intend to publish our response to the consultation before Summer Recess, which begins on 21 July 2020.”

On the Equality Act 2010, they write, “Exceptions in the Act also allow for the exclusion of transgender people from single-sex facilities where this is necessary and proportionate… We are looking into how we might provide greater clarity in this area as part of Government’s response to the Gender Recognition Act consultation.” “Greater clarity” might mean that excluders felt more able to exclude trans women.

This Government is committed to improving services for those undergoing gender reassignment and to challenging transphobia in the NHS. NHS England have funded the development of specialised training through the Royal College of Physicians’ accredited credential on trans health.

There are not enough specialist psychiatrists, so the waiting lists are huge and growing. They say the NHS is working to make trans care more local, and “establishing a more modern and flexible care model”.

What did Truss mean when she said, “I think it’s very important that while people are still developing their decision-making capabilities that we protect them from making those irreversible decisions”? The FAQ is placatory. “We are clear that protecting young people is about ensuring the appropriate processes are in place, rather than withholding support, and we will be exploring what this means with the Department for Health and Social care who lead in this area. We are absolutely committed to making sure all young people have access to appropriate and timely psychological and medical support. The wellbeing of all young people is our priority.” Truss in her statement gave credence to the paranoid myth that young people need “protected” from doctors. She should make a public statement if she does not believe that myth, not rely on this FAQ.

“We know that transgender young people are more likely to experience poor mental health than people who are not transgender. The wellbeing of all young people is our primary concern. We are taking action to improve mental healthcare for LGBT people and we are working with DHSC to develop plans for reducing suicides amongst the LGBT population.” One quick and simple way would be to stop “Government sources” and ministers from making statements indicating a crackdown on trans women in women’s spaces.

“Will the Minister for Women and Equalities speak to both transgender health experts and children’s rights experts before making any decisions around access to healthcare? Yes…” Well, that is the minimum required by administrative law- decisions must be based on adequate knowledge and consideration of relevant facts. That does not mean that Truss will not consult her own prejudices and the benefits to an incompetent right-wing government of establishing out-groups to hate. “Clinicians should continue to provide support to people accessing Gender Identity Clinics [for adults] and the Gender Identity Development Service [for under 18s] in the same way as they have done till now – based on clinical need.” That they have to state doctors will continue to provide treatment indicates how toxic the government’s shit-stirring has been.

The FAQ does not reassure me at all.

A “nuanced debate”

What possible answer is there to “Do you condemn death threats?” but “Yes”?

Keir Starmer’s spokesperson was asked about JK Rowling’s screed on trans, and replied,

“This is a nuanced debate, a very important debate, and what Keir wants to do is work closely with all sides of this debate in scrutinising the government proposals and ensuring that we remain committed to trans rights.”

Did Sir Keir stand by the last Labour manifesto on trans recognition? “Keir stood on that manifesto and Keir has a proud history of supporting advances in human rights across a variety of areas.” He need not say, to most of his audience, that the manifesto of a party that lost is as valuable as a month-old newspaper.

Did anyone send death threats? It is loathsome if they did, but even if they were trans, I am not responsible for them any more than I am responsible for Bad Things done by my fellow left-handers.

This led to wailing and gnashing of teeth on trans facebook. “I will never vote Labour again,” wrote someone who perhaps prefers Tories. What part of “ensuring that we remain committed to trans rights” does she not understand? “Nuanced debate” allows Sir Keir to dismiss out of hand the anti-trans rantings, while denying he is doing so.

The Times, a paper which can only be trusted to Murdochian levels of truthfulness, screamed “Labour Stands Back From Gender Debate”. “Measures designed to prevent people with male anatomy using female lavatories and domestic violence refuges have also been included in a package drawn up by Liz Truss, the equalities minister.” Well, honestly. Do they expect me to carry confirmation of surgery about my person? Who would be entitled to inspect it?

Labour Shadow Ministers spoke up. The Shadow Home Secretary said, “we need to listen very carefully going forward in what is an extremely sensitive area”. The Shadow Justice Secretary said, “I’m not sure the government just scrapping plans and then leaking it out in a newspaper is the way to deal with this, you need a much better way that’s sensitive, that seeks consensus and respects everybody’s rights.” So the Times reports TV interviews. These are not positive commitments to trans rights, but there have been such commitments before.

It is beneath the dignity of the Leader of the Opposition to comment on the calculated nastiness of “A Government Source”, however prominent its platform. When a minister makes a statement, the shadow minister should make the appropriate response, which I am hopeful will be to oppose, on the side of trans recognition, with a truthful account of the actual position rather than fearmongering about claimed threats to women’s spaces.

Meanwhile, “a nuanced debate” is a meaningless phrase, saying “ask me later”. Nuanced means you can’t pin him down to one “side”.

The statement by A Government Source is froth. Johnson wants to distract from his complete failure on covid deaths, on care homes, schools, lockdown, reopening, everything. An actual statement on trans rights would be useful, but I could think of little else before Liz Truss, the responsible minister, appeared in the House of Commons yesterday, and she said nothing.

I may cut down my news consumption. Much of what Mr Trump does is distraction, and reading the breathless coverage, even the magisterial disdain of Michelle Goldberg, just gets me wound up to no purpose. Instead I have read one book, “Surviving Autocracy” by Masha Gessen, and even considered reading John Bolton’s when it comes out, though he is a monster, who joined Trump’s regime because he thought he could use it to bomb Iran. But day to day Trump coverage is no more valuable than any other reality show. There is of course Gerry Adams’ response to “Do you condemn,” but he was in specific circumstances which do not apply now.

Both the Trump and the Johnson governments are doing real harm to people, but that’s all the more reason to keep my head clear.

PM scraps plan to make gender change easier?

The Sunday Times has a front page article headed “PM Scraps plan to make gender change easier”. The article contradicts the headline- it will be easier, just not as much easier as hoped. The article says nothing new, in the most obnoxious way.

The Sunday Times claims to have received leaks about gender recognition in England and Wales. It claims that gender recognition reform has been “scrapped”, or “ditched”. “New protections will be offered to safeguard female-only spaces, including refuges and public lavatories, to stop them being used by those with male anatomy.” The Government Equalities Office has previously said they intend to publish the response before 21 July when Parliament is closed.

“A source”, possibly Dominic Cummings himself, is quoted. “In terms of changing what is on your birth certificate, you will still have to have proper medical approval. And you’re not going to be able to march in and find a hippie quack doctor who is willing to say you’re a woman. That’s not going to happen. The original draft was not what people had in mind so it has been rewritten. There will be big moves on safe spaces and women-only toilets.”

According to the ST, “More than 100,000 responses were received to the consultation. Insiders say about 70% of those backed the idea that anyone should be able to declare that they are a woman or a man. However, officials believe the results were skewed by an avalanche of responses generated by trans rights groups”.

Well, considering the desperation with which anti-trans campaigners begged people to respond, I would say people who cared about the issue one way or the other responded, and (oddly enough) people who didn’t care enough to respond didn’t respond. The Scottish consultation had an overwhelming response in favour of self-declaration.

“Quack” doctors. Well, giving a false assessment would be unethical for a doctor, who might be disciplined. And now there is an official list of specialist psychiatrists: you cannot get a GRC without a letter from someone on that list.

The Times says local authorities are providing gender neutral toilets, but central government guidelines will prevent that.

It says “Safeguards will be put in place to protect ‘safe spaces’ for women, reaffirming provisions in the Equalities (sic) Act…. polls suggest voters are sympathetic to trans rights but do not support transgender women with male anatomy accessing female-only facilities such as prisons and changing rooms.”

Well. At present, the Equality Act has a two stage process. First, spaces can be women only. Then, they can exclude trans women as well as all men if that “is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”. It does not say anything about anatomy, and demanding that we have surgery would infringe our human rights- and demanding to check if we had would infringe our right to privacy. Stopping assaults on women, for example, would be a “legitimate aim”, but excluding trans women would not be a “proportionate means” to achieve that, or any means at all.

As the ST says, this “will fuel the culture war gripping Britain”. That will please Rupert Murdoch and BoJo Johnson.

Liz Truss has already said women’s spaces will be protected. I don’t think The Sunday Times front page splash adds anything. I wrote to my MP, who has a junior position in the government, on 19 May. On 5 June he replied that he would not see me, but that if I wrote to him with my concerns he would put them to the relevant ministers. I wrote back, twice, requesting to see him but have had no reply. The second time, I wrote, “I appreciate that, as Burke said, you give your judgment, not just your voice; I appreciate collective responsibility; but if you think I, or someone indistinguishable from me, is a danger to other women I want to look you in the eye as I hear it from you.”

After the ST leak, we know nothing more than before. The Government Equalities Offices has a list of faqs for correspondence about gender recognition and single sex spaces. It says the gender recognition process will be less bureaucratic but “remain a serious and meaningful undertaking”. So there will be some loosening, just not all we might want. It says Liz Truss’s comments on single sex spaces “were intended to reiterate the importance of maintaining single-sex spaces, as provided for in the Equality Act. If any changes were to be made to the Act – as with all legislation – they would go through the appropriate processes of engagement.” The Equality and Human Rights Commission was asked to produce new guidance, which might make it easier for women’s services to exclude trans women: now there is uncertainty, and they might not want to risk court action. However some women’s services exclude all trans women with impunity.

Liz Truss and Anna Akhmatova

The world is changed utterly, since December, but one thing that continues is conservatives seeking out vulnerable minorities to hate, so as to spread division. Trans people, especially trans women and children, have been targeted by Liz Truss, “Minister for” (actually against) “Women and Equalities”. I will write to my MP.

Truss says she wants “Protection of single sex spaces”. She is lying. Gender Recognition has no effect on single sex spaces, which are governed by the Equality Act.

She wants us “Free to live our lives as we wish”- as long as we behave in increasingly constrained acceptable ways, restricted for the good of others. “Checks and balances,” she says. Oh, totally reasonable rules for the good of everyone. Ha.

And she says she wants to “protect” children and young people. Truss claims she is better qualified than specialist gender psychiatrists and endocrinologists to determine what is good for under 18s, and that is to make sure none of them have treatment to aid transition. She produces the Tory bugbear, the ordinary child hoodwinked by trans ideology rushing heedless into “irreversible decisions” to prevent trans children getting the care they need.

Meanwhile I went out for my daily exercise, and also wanted to take some photos of the eerie silent world we are now in. This out of town shopping centre would have been hoaching, but for covid 19.



And it was odd to see a Police Community Support Officer walking along this unmetalled road. We are allowed to be there for exercise, and I want to be there for time in nature, too, time with the birds and the lakes, to preserve my mental health. It is a lone young woman, I don’t think she’ll be arresting anyone, but she might be seeing if there were breaches of rules for a more heavy handed presence later. I saw her twice, both times studying a phone.

I am frightened, by a conservative government which handles the crisis badly, with more people dying of slow suffocation here than elsewhere in Europe, and with the deaths not accurately counted, but which still finds time to promote hate- quietly, subtly at first, with this new target. I am fearful for my vulnerable friends. And the world is beautiful. Never has the contrast been so sharp for me: it is always there, but it is so much stronger now.

Fear and loss.
Wonder and beauty.
Death and God.

Anna Akhmatova puts it beautifully:

Everything is plundered, betrayed, sold,
Death’s great black wing scrapes the air,
Misery gnaws to the bone.
Why then do we not despair?

By day, from the surrounding woods,
cherries blow summer into town;
at night the deep transparent skies
glitter with new galaxies.

And the miraculous comes so close
to the ruined, dirty houses
something not known to any one at all,
but wild in our breast for centuries.

I am afraid. I read a piece in the New York Times about how covid suffocates people so they don’t realise it, and immediately ordered an oxymeter. It is predicted to arrive in June. There is a small risk of my dying in the most hideous way, and a much greater risk for all the people I know who are over 70 or with certain conditions. Liz Truss chooses this moment to announce her campaign against trans people. Trans children must not be treated, as a political decision. Single sex spaces- No Transwomen!- must be maintained or extended. This is couched in terms of “protection”- protecting vulnerable women and children from the Trans Threat. I am more afraid than ever, and today the sunshine is beautiful.

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I wrote that, and then thought, possibly I should give the minister the benefit of the doubt, until I hear more. In Scotland, the government offers a good reform, but still talks about single sex spaces. It is reassurance for the phobes rather than a serious threat to our rights. I am fearful and unknowing at the moment and it reduces my ability to trust. Then I remember she wants to stop treatment for children, and that is unequivocal. She trusts Daily Mail editorials over doctors. She trusts herself over specialist psychiatrists.

How gender recognition could change society

Gender recognition may cost people. An increase in the numbers of people obtaining legal gender recognition might increase the likelihood that a business would encounter a transitioned or transitioning employee or customer. This may require such organisations to incur costs in formulating policies. Or indeed costs in training staff.

I was black affronted at that. No-one should profit from blighted lives. If gender recognition encourages people to transition and live as ourselves, we will flourish and live better. So we will contribute more to the economy, incidentally. And if businesses encounter more transitioned people, we become familiar. People realise our eccentricity does not really matter. We might buy more from them.

This was from the business regulatory impact assessment for the Scottish Government’s gender recognition consultation. Yes, these things are dull, and occasionally they show us how others see us, as a potential problem. What if an employee says something rude? I might be liable to a court case! Oh, mercy-me…

The impact assessment on the Registrar General for Scotland, which would take over from the English-funded Gender Recognition Panel, suggests set-up costs of £300,000-£350,000, running costs of £150,000, and annual applicant numbers of around 250, extrapolated from Irish and Danish numbers. Scotland has around a twelfth of the UK population. In Great Britain there were about 2,500 applicants last year, a huge increase: in 2016 it was about 250, and there were only 4910 GRCs issued from 2004-2018. So even though we have to pay high fees and get medical certificates, and even though there was a promise of a simpler system, and even though it is purely symbolic and entitles us to nothing at all in itself, we are still seeking GRCs, and have reached the levels the Scottish government expects on a self-declaration system: this means the numbers expected all have specialist psychiatrist’s diagnoses. The idea that anyone seeking a GRC would not be a “real transsexual” is a myth.

The Scottish government is willing to spend £1000 per applicant for three years (factoring in the set-up costs) falling to £600 per applicant after that.

Under the current scheme there have been two appeals against a refusal to grant a gender recognition certificate, one in the High Court in England, which was successful. I have not found the Court of Session appeal.

Widows and widowers can get a pension from their deceased spouse’s pension scheme. When civil partnerships started in 2005, this right only applied to pension contributions made after 2005. Similarly with equal marriage: a gay marriage survivor of a deceased partner would only get a pension based on contributions since 2005. Less money if you’re gay.

However the Supreme Court reversed that in 2017. Pensions for surviving spouses are equalised.

Trans people are disadvantaged, but the Fairer Scotland Duty Assessment cannot state how many more of us are homeless or jobless than the general population. They do say that 53% of trans people, and 42% of cis people in Scotland, have an annual income less than £20,000. And among 35-44 year olds, 6% of cis people are not in education or employment, but 21% of trans people.

National Records of Scotland are proposing to include a trans status question in the 2021 census. TERF Joan McAlpine, MSP, intervened to ensure the question did not “conflate sex with gender identity” when the Bill was introduced in June, and TERFs are still huffing away about it now. The question is apparently not yet drafted, though “A binary sex question with self-identification guidance therefore supports participation for all people with the census and clarifies to data providers and data users the basis of the question.”

Having different fees for a GRC, for people with different income, could cost more in administration than the higher bands raised. If the Registrar decides to charge fees there will be yet another consultation.

There’s a Data Protection Impact Assessment on how data on gender recognition will be stored, at which point I finally glazed over.

Gender Recognition Reform in Scotland

The new draft law on gender recognition in Scotland has been published. There’s another consultation on it, which shows how far the hate campaign against trans women has come. The proposal is good enough, but the commentary and blog posts talk incessantly of “women’s rights”- the commentary says there is no threat to women’s rights, of course, because that is simply true, but raising the matter will encourage anti-trans campaigners to complain. Continue reading

Maria Miller

Maria Miller MP spoke out for trans people last week. She is the kind of Tory who might not do too much damage to the country, if she were in opposition: she was a Remainer, but last month spoke out for the Prime Minister’s Brexit arrangements. She overclaimed expenses, and the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner recommended she repay £45,000, and she wanted to reduce the abortion time limit to twenty weeks, but she also wanted to extend abortion rights to women in Northern Ireland. As far as possible, she is a moderate Tory.

She said the government was doing nothing for us, almost as clearly as she could. The government had focused its work for trans people on GRA reform, while “many trans people don’t have access to basic healthcare”. And on GRA reform little has been actually done.

Well, yes. GRA reform affects whether we can get a different gender marker on birth and marriage certificates, and that is it. The hatefest which has followed, with confected arguments about what it means and the obsession with trans people in certain media- only to make us an Out-group, whom it is acceptable to hate- has been exacerbated by the government’s delay.

The transphobe Helen Lewis attacked Maria Miller. She misrepresented the case from the start.

The heart of the fake feminist case against trans recognition is that there is some imagined threat to single sex services. Helen Lewis continues to claim that: in her latest article she linked to an earlier one, claiming that GRA reform means men in women’s spaces. That’s governed by the Equality Act, but Lewis continues to express concerns about self-ID and its impact on single-sex spaces.

Lewis claims she has been abused as a TERF, and as transphobic, though she believes trans women are women and trans men are men. Well. Is she a transphobe? She claimed a law reform which gives a right to an extract birth certificate threatened women’s spaces. That’s spreading falsehoods and fear against us.

I’ve just checked marriage certificates. There is no gender indicator on the current marriage certificate. My GRC stops me forming a civil partnership with a man, but allows me to form a civil partnership with a woman (if I could find one). GRC reform affects no-one, hardly even trans people. I haven’t shown my new birth certificate to anyone. Though it was expensive to get it, and once it was possible to get a birth certificate marked F I wanted it.

Lewis’ transphobia lies in her insistence on surgery. What used to be called “sex change surgery”, she writes, as if other names are beyond her. She distinguishes between “transsexuals” (good) and “transgender people” (bad). If you don’t hate your genitals and desire surgery, you are not proper trans. However the DSM and ICD do not require a desire for surgery for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

If trans women are women, and trans men are men, trans women should be in women’s spaces. Stop fearmongering about us.

Debbie Hayton wrote in the Morning Star that The government’s handling of transgender rights has been mismanaged from the start- delays in access to healthcare are harming trans people’s quality of life. I find this unobjectionable; but trans women who hate her because she supports the terfs and transphobes objected to her even saying this. It’s tragic. That anyone calls for more funding for trans health is a good thing, whatever their views on anything else.

To cleanse your palette after all this: a summary of human needs from Radio 4. Apparently we need autonomy, competence and relatedness: we need freedom of choice, we need to feel we are quite good at doing something and we need to have social bonds with people. Yup.

Gender recognition consultation: questions and answers

The consultation on Gender recognition closed on Monday 22 October at noon, extended from Friday 19 October at 11pm because the servers could not cope with demand. This is what I wrote, and I would love to hear what you think. How can an individual give evidence strengthening the case for gender recognition?

The first questions are about the process. What should you have to do to prove you are serious, or to prove you are trans, before you can get a GRC? They go step-by-step through the process.

1. If you are a trans person, have you previously applied, or are you currently applying, for a Gender Recognition Certificate? If yes, please tell us about your experience of the process. If you have applied, were you successful in obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate?

I got my GRC in January 2006, more than three years after transitioning. I found it extremely expensive and intrusive. I had to pay for further medical reports. Proof of living as a woman was easy for me, as my employer had been supportive and I kept my job from before, so I had monthly wage slips. If I had not had a job, or my job had been more precarious, I would not have got the evidence so easily. Someone might change their name and presentation but have difficulty getting their bank or the passport office to recognise that: the passport office demanded a letter from my GP.

I had no difficulty understanding the requirements, but I had a degree and a professional job. I had a friend who was a solicitor who could hear me affirm the statutory declaration.

I received a GRC without further correspondence, but I had to wait for a response. I knew I was trans. I should not have to have someone judging that.

2. If you are a trans person, please tell us what having Gender Recognition Certificate means, or would mean, to you.

I have not shown it to anyone. I have not felt the need to tell anyone that I have one, except when discussing gender recognition and what it means. It has not affected my right to marry or get a pension earlier. But it means that my womanhood is affirmed by the law, and when my womanhood- my right to be me, my right to express myself as I truly am- is challenged thoughtlessly in the press, in the street and throughout the culture, that means a lot to me. The law is on my side.

3. Do you think there should be a requirement in the future for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria?

No. There are different terms, including “Gender identity disorder”, and other terms may be coined in the future. The draft ICD says that gender incongruence is not a mental illness, and says The individual experiences a strong desire to be treated (to live and be accepted) as a person of the experienced gender. That is, the diagnostician is judging on the basis of what the patient wants. But I know what I want. I should not need a psychiatrist to validate that.

Gender dysphoria should not be medicalised. Some people will want to see a doctor, to discuss how they feel and what they want to do, and to have medical treatment. Others don’t, and should not need to.

4. Do you also think there should be a requirement for a report detailing treatment received?

Ew! No! You’re asking what’s between my legs. Gross! How dare you!

That is a dehumanising question. People would be sitting in judgment on me, as if transition was an inherently suspicious activity and I had to prove I was genuine. But trans is part of ordinary human diversity. Some people are trans- “Get over it!” as Stonewall says. I should be believed I am trans unless there is evidence otherwise.

The New Zealand parliament is considering its Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill. The NZ Human Rights Commission provided useful evidence to the select committee, recommending that no diagnosis or evidence of medical treatment should be necessary.

5. Under the current gender recognition system, an applicant has to provide evidence to show that they have lived in their acquired gender for at least two years.
(A) Do you agree that an applicant should have to provide evidence that they have lived in their acquired gender for a period of time before applying?

No. Transition is not something anyone undertakes lightly. We have wanted to for a long time before we do it. We might spend a long time planning and preparing: I spent eighteen months after deciding I would do it. It is a risk and a challenge. We learn who our friends are.

Now, some people who have transitioned are validated by the law, and some are not. We are all committed to transition. The time I needed that validation was shortly after transition. I was being insulted in the street, and losing friends. The moment I changed my expression at work, or changing my name, was proof of my commitment.

(B) If you answered yes to (A), do you think the current evidential options are appropriate, or could they be amended?
(C) If you answered yes to (A), what length of time should an applicant have to provide evidence for?
(D) If you answered no to (A), should there be a period of reflection between making the application and being awarded a Gender Recognition Certificate?

No. For all the uses a GRC could have, either as evidence or as psychological reassurance, its greatest need is just after transition.

6. Currently applicants for a gender recognition certificate must make a statutory declaration as part of the process.
(A) Do you think this requirement should be retained, regardless of what other changes are made to the gender recognition system?

Yes. Anyone can make a statutory declaration in front of a magistrate. If the required terms are freely available on line, so that a draft could be downloaded and changed to fit the applicant, it should be simple enough. The statutory declaration gives solemnity to the occasion. It protects by criminal sanctions against frivolous or fraudulent applications.

(B) If you answered yes to (A), do you think that the statutory declaration should state that the applicant intends to ‘live permanently in the acquired gender until death’?

No. I am clearly trans. I have the diagnosis, and I have been transitioned for sixteen years. When I transitioned, I had heard of people reverting, and thought I might find myself reverting- but even if in five years’ time I was trying to live male again, I knew that I had to transition, to try it, before I could be reconciled to that. Seeking a GRC, with a statutory declaration, is sufficient proof of serious intent.

(C) If you answered no to (A), do you think there should be any other type of safeguard to show seriousness of intent?

I can’t think what that would be. If you have a suggestion, please comment below. Possibly, just wanting to apply is sufficient proof of seriousness of intent. What cis person wants to declare themselves trans?

8. Currently, applicants must pay £140 to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate.
(A) Do you think the fee should be removed from the process of applying for legal gender recognition?
(B) If you answered no to (A), do you think the fee should be reduced?

Possibly, the Stat dec should just go to the registry where your birth certificate is, then they could issue the GRC and the revised birth certificate. Why should there be a central body dealing with gender recognition, or a register of GRCs? This should not be complex. People are trans. So there should be no fee beyond that for the additional birth certificate.

The Government is keen to understand more about the financial cost of achieving legal gender recognition, beyond the £140 application fee.
(C) What other financial costs do trans individuals face when applying for a gender recognition certificate and what is the impact of these costs?

Costs of getting medical evidence might double the fee. Solicitors may charge for drafting and swearing the Stat dec. Clearly, something is putting people off. I have been unemployed, and when unemployed would not have been able to afford a GRC.

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The consultation asks about the effects of gender recognition on other people. Of course there aren’t any, not that should prevent gender recognition; but the consultation gives a space for gender critical feminists to claim the end of women’s rights or autonomy. I hope the government does not use their ravings as an excuse to ignore our international human rights.

7. The Government is keen to understand more about the spousal consent provisions for married persons in the Gender Recognition Act. Do you agree with the current provisions?

No. Now, a married person can apply for a GRC with a statutory declaration from the spouse consenting to recognition. If the spouse does not consent, the person applies for an “interim” GRC which either party can use to apply for the marriage to be annulled. After annulment, the person can get a full GRC. There have been 196 interim GRCs, and 130 of them have been converted to full GRCs.

Marriage should not give rights of control over the spouse. Anyone should be able to get their gender recognised. Either party might want a divorce after the gender was recognised, and existing law would allow either to claim it.

9. Do you think the privacy and disclosure of information provisions in section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act are adequate?

It’s a criminal offence to out someone in particular circumstances, but no-one has ever been prosecuted for it. It should be a crime to out someone with the intention of causing them harm, and a crime recklessly to out someone where harm has resulted. More here.

10. If you are someone who either has, or would want to undergo legal gender transition, and you have one or more of the protected characteristics [grounds for protection against discrimination], which protected characteristics apply to you? You may tick more than one box. Please give us more information about how your protected characteristic has affected your views on the GRC application process.

Well. White people are protected against race discrimination, and men against most sex discrimination. Cis people are not protected: anyone can lawfully discriminate in favour of trans people. Anyone is protected against discrimination on grounds of age. Sexual orientation means orientation towards the same sex, the opposite sex, or either sex: so if you change gender, you change orientation too unless you are Bi. But perception matters too: if I am perceived as gay, and discriminated against because of that, even though I am not perceived as trans, I would have a claim even if I am straight. Proof of motivation can be difficult.

If I were to claim equal pay for work of equal value, the person I compared myself to would have to be male. Men are likely to be paid more, but these claims are difficult.

11. Is there anything you want to tell us about how the current process of applying for a GRC affects those who have a protected characteristic?

There is nothing in the consultation about young people. At the moment, you cannot apply for a GRC before the age of 18, and might not have the evidence then. The Scottish consultation proposed allowing 16 year olds to apply, and various ways parents could affirm for younger children. Mermaids, the charity for trans youth, has a statement on this.

This is also the space for the gender critical feminists to do their stuff. All accusations that gender recognition means the death of feminism, the end of women’s rights and an irruption of men in women’s spaces, perving and assaulting, go here.

Yes, I am mocking. No, I am not taking those accusations seriously, because they are completely groundless and increasing gender recognition elsewhere has furnished no evidence to support them.

Then there are a series of questions on how gender recognition might affect people with rights under the Equality Act exemptions. Initially, I thought them stupid questions. They depend on the interpretation of the Equality Act, so are issues of law rather than fact. After gender recognition, we remain “transsexual persons” according to that Act. They give an opportunity for anyone to claim they are affected, and explain why. I don’t think there is any reason anyone would be affected.

12. Do you think that the participation of trans people in sport, as governed by the Equality Act 2010, will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?

No. Women remain subject to gender tests. Sports bodies can make rules about safety and fairness, and clearly could ban a trans woman who had not had hormone therapy on those grounds.

13. (A) Do you think that the operation of the single-sex and separate-sex service exceptions in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?

No. They can still exclude trans people in rare, particular cases.

(B) If you provide a single or separate sex service, do you feel confident in interpreting the Equality Act 2010 with regard to these exemptions?

I can see that some people might not feel confident. Excluding someone leaves you open to a claim of discrimination, and even if you are likely to win you still face worry and expense. But if there is a good reason (a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim) they may exclude.

(C) If you are a trans person who has experienced domestic abuse or sexual assault, were you able to access support?

I have not, thank God, but I understand some services include trans folk. Why should they not?

14. Do you think that the operation of the occupational requirement exception in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?

No. Single sex services will still be able to employ cis people of that sex. The consultation document explains that the Equality Act exemptions will still apply. But, again, there is room for the “Help help the sky is falling” interjections. I hope they only want junior civil servants to get a good laugh. I fear such meretricious objections will be taken seriously.

Similarly, single sex communal accommodation (q15) and armed forces combat effectiveness (q16) will not be affected. The government don’t think insurance (q18) will be affected, and nor do I. Q19 refers to other public services, including hospitals and prisons. There are provisions for dangerous cis women to be placed in the male estate, so these will continue to apply to dangerous trans women. Prisons are underfunded death traps, unfit for human habitation, and a disgrace, but that is not going to be affected by gender recognition.

17. Do you think that the operation of the marriage exception as it relates to trans people in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?

No. Religious people are officially allowed to be bigotted against us, because of their “beliefs”. Then again, it should be. A baptised member of, say, the Assemblies of God or the Jehovah’s Witnesses should be able to force them to recognise her/his gender. But there is no proposal to change this law.

Q20 asks about non-binary gender, and that’s tomorrow’s post.

Gender Recognition reform

Should we be able to change our gender without medical evidence? Of course. I know who I am, and you do too. Will we be able to? I hope so. The government consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act has now been published, along with “Easy-read” documents explaining it aimed at people with learning difficulties or low literacy.

The government estimates there are between 200,000 and 500,000 trans people in the UK. 4910 of us have gender recognition certificates, recognising our true gender. Not all that half million have transitioned: my crude estimate puts that at about 40,000. By transition, I mean, changing name and gender expression permanently, as I have done. I have a woman’s name, clothes, hairstyle. My mannerisms are my own, but before transition I attempted to make them manly and now no longer do so. My voice is variable, as I did not work hard enough at the speech therapy exercises.

That means the number who have transitioned is far less than the number of trans people. Some might be in complete denial and internalised transphobia, some might express themselves in their true gender in private, or in closed, secretive clubs, some might think they had a sexual perversion rather than gender incongruence, some might express their true gender in public, but not all the time. Some might express their true gender in words and mannerisms, but not in symbols like clothes. Any amount of true gender expression might go with any level of self-acceptance, from total denial and shame to full acceptance.

At the moment, there is gender recognition for people who transition, seeing a specialist psychiatrist, getting a diagnosis, changing their name and living in their true gender, though not necessarily passing. The consultation asks if the process should still require

medical evidence,
evidence of living in the true gender for a period of time,
a statutory declaration leaving a frivolous or fraudulent application open to criminal prosecution, and/or
the intention to “live permanently in the acquired gender until death”.
“Should there be any other safeguard to show seriousness of intent?”

The questions are not written to lead to either answer. You are invited to say yes or no, and why. There is no clear indication of the government’s intent.

The purpose of a consultation, a cynical civil servant (that may be a tautology) told me, is to get evidence to support doing what you wanted to do. I fear the Tory government. I fear that they want evidence to justify them being restrictive. I fear Brexit means not bothering about human rights any more. But the question is, what harm would it do? If someone wants their true gender recognised, why shouldn’t they have it?

I hope reform will mean more people transitioning, and being more visible. We will still be seeing psychiatrists because we want to make sense of our feelings, consider other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and discuss what to do. Then we will change name and gender presentation, intending for that change to be permanent, and then get a GRC. Because transition lets us be fully ourselves, express who we really are, stop living a lie, stop pretending. Gender is restrictive and Procrustean, and this is our way of escaping it.

Some people worry that someone might get a GRC without transitioning, still presenting in the birth gender sometimes or even all the time. Would anyone actually do that? Would cis men get a GRC as a woman to enter women’s spaces? Would trans people get a GRC without an intention to permanently transition? If a woman can go out with short hair, no makeup, t-shirt and jeans, what does “living in the acquired gender” mean, anyway? Would a man pretend to have a GRC, in order to get into women’s toilets?

I don’t think anyone would. Would a cis man want to declare he is a woman, either in front of a magistrate or at a toilet door? There are contemptible game-players about, who might, but they have other ways of being arseholes. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility, and not so likely to be a reason to prevent trans people getting gender recognition.

What I want from this reform is for being trans to be less of a big deal. Making it easier makes it more normal. The result is to blur the boundaries between genders so that people can express themselves more freely. It might reduce the pressure to have surgery and hormones: if a trans boy can be accepted without question or continual “mistakes” about his pronouns as a boy, he might not need to wear his binder so tight. Telling him he’s a girl, really, puts more pressure on him to prove himself.

There is enough of a difference between male and female presentation for trans to have meaning. Trans people often have visible signs of our birth gender which drive us to signal our true gender more clearly.

The consultation is a chance for trans people to become more visible and more accepted. This will reduce the hurt and fear around trans people. We will be part of ordinary human diversity. We will be safer as a result. People will blossom and flourish as our shame decreases. We will express ourselves as we truly are.

My estimate of the number transitioned I got as follows. 6900 trans people (excluding non-binary) responded to the government’s National LGBT Survey. 9.4% of them had a GRC (11.6% of 5600, excluding those unaware of the GRC procedure). 4910 people have a GRC. So, if the proportion of trans people in the UK who have a GRC is the same as the proportion of respondents who have a GRC, 52,153 are trans; but 16.6% had not started transitioning, so 43,495 have started transitioning. This takes no account of whether any particular group would be more likely to respond to the survey, whether people who have not started transitioning, people transitioning or people who have completed transitioning, so is an extremely crude figure. So I have limited it to one significant figure. I am quite sure the order of magnitude is correct. If there are 500,000 trans people, only a small fraction of those would transition or consider transitioning. People identifying as non-binary were not asked if they had a GRC, and they might. So that would change the figure. As GRCs have been awarded since 2005, some people with GRCs will have died, and some may have reverted, so the number of people living in the acquired sex with a GRC will be less than 4910. About 7500 non-binary people answered the survey.

Gender Recognition Act reform

What might the government do to change gender recognition in England and Wales? We don’t know, but can guess. We don’t even have the consultation yet but do have the Scottish consultation, the report of the Women and Equalities Committee, and Justine Greening’s announcement of the English consultation, made on 23 July 2017.

The announcement promised New measures to deliver greater equality for the LGBT community… ahead of the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. That’s accurate. The criminal offences were not completely expunged from the statute book until this century. Initially, there was a narrow defence to a charge of gross indecency or sodomy, which applied in restricted circumstances. Homophobia was still everywhere, and “normal”.

The new rights for gay men were underwhelming. Men who have had sex with men, even once, could not ever give blood, and that humiliates people who want to do a good thing for society. You can’t because you’re gay. Then a time limit was put in- they could give blood if they had not had sex with a man for a year, which is quite an intrusive question. The proposal was to reduce this to three months, but many people would find that an unbearable sex famine. Stonewall’s response was that there should be individualised risk assessment. Of course- what about faithful couples? The three month limit has now been implemented. These rules are in place to keep blood donors and the patients who receive their blood safe, said the press release.

Given the Women and Equalities Committee report, the new rights for trans people are underwhelming too. They are first described as Proposals to streamline and demedicalise the process for changing gender. It is not a consultation on trans rights, but on the Gender Recognition Act alone.

Proposals will include:

Removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria before being able to apply for gender recognition. The current need to be assessed and diagnosed by clinicians is seen as an intrusive requirement by the trans community; and

Proposing options for reducing the length and intrusiveness of the gender recognition system.

The gender recognition system is intrusive because it requires documentary evidence of expressing our true selves for two years, as well as that medical evidence. And our promise to live in the acquired gender life long is not enough: the statutory declaration which we swear to that effect must be assessed by the gender recognition panel.

However while in Scotland the consultation proposed a simple statutory declaration, the English announcement is considerably more guarded. Many options would “reduce the length and intrusiveness” other than a simple stat dec, and we might even still have to wait two years before starting the process.

While the Committee proposed reforming the Equality Act, to restrict the circumstances in which we could be excluded from women’s spaces, the announcement refers specifically to the Gender Recognition Act and procedure under it. The Equality Act was never on the table.

Suzanna Hopwood of the Stonewall Trans Advisory Group said “I am really pleased… the current system is demeaning and broken.” Indeed it is, and no nearer being fixed now than nearly a year ago.

So it is false for A Woman’s Place to claim that self-ID would mean becoming a woman simply because you sign a form. It is false for them to claim that anyone’s rights would be affected, apart from trans people’s. They are fear-mongering. Making such statements as they do, they have an obligation to establish the truth: if they are ignorant of it, that does not excuse their circulating falsehoods. People should ignore them.

Unfortunately, the Sunday Times is spreading the misrepresentations, fear and lies: “Men identifying as women [they mean trans women] were permitted to swim in the ladies’ pond on Hampstead Heath in North London and a woman with a fear of men was locked in an NHS women’s psychiatric ward with a burly 6ft-tall transgender patient.” They also wrote, “Ministers have vowed to defend women’s rights to exclude transgender people from female-only spaces such as changing rooms, lavatories and swimming sessions. In a significant victory for campaigners, the government has promised not to put the rights of those who identify as women ahead of those who are biologically female.” But there was never any intention of changing the Equality Act. The campaigners have been wasting their time, and won nothing.

That Sunday Times article quotes the government’s response to a petition from gender critical feminists. It adds nothing. “That does not necessarily mean we are proposing self-declaration of gender,” says the response, but they are having a consultation: why consult, if you have decided the outcome beforehand? The Guardian was initially cozened into publishing the same non-story, including an insulting comment from A Woman’s Place, but later added a comment from Stonewall putting the record straight. “The exemptions to this rule only apply to sensitive and complex services, for example refuges, where services can exclude trans people if they can demonstrate that is absolutely necessary, for example if inclusion would put that trans person at risk. However, these exemptions are rarely used and in almost all situations trans people are treated equally as is required by our equality laws.”

That Sunday Times article is a propaganda coup for the transphobes. There was no victory. There was no change proposed to the Equality Act. But they have spun this as them winning concessions pledging to retain the Equality Act exemptions, and their staunch press allies have gone along with it. Further, they have spun those exemptions as a right to exclude, which only applies in restricted circumstances. We need to point out how narrow the exemptions are.

There were a lot of good answers to the consultation, now published and summarised here.

In December 2019 the Scottish government published a draft bill and a further consultation.