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The Gender Recognition Act 2004: consultation on reform

A consultation to review legislation that governs how a person may change their gender

The Government is seeking public response to a consultation on gender recognition reform. The proposed changes could have long-lasting and far-reaching consequences, so we encourage you to take this opportunity to have your say.

Background to the consultation

Trans people can change their legal gender by meeting the requirements set out in the Gender Recognition Act 2004. Since the Act came into force, 4,910 trans people have been issued a Gender Recognition Certificate. The Government has launched a public consultation on how to best reform the law in England and Wales.

The Government want to introduce self-identification and remove the current legal and medical process.

The consultation suggests that any changes to the law will be limited and are simply designed to make the lives of trans people easier. However, there are significant concerns that, in changing the process, the needs of those with the rare medical condition of gender dysphoria get lost. There are also concerns that a number of unintended consequences may follow from the rush to legislate in this area.

We are part of a growing coalition which is urging caution including feminists, free speech advocates, religious groups and some within the LGBTQ+ community.

It is extremely important that people respond highlighting any concerns they have. Please add your voice to ours.

The full consultation document is more than 80 pages long, so please don’t let that scare you from responding to the questions you particularly want to answer. The consultation closes at 23:00 on Friday, October 19 2018.

We urge our members to respond to this consultation as individuals and churches. It is not mandatory to answer every question, but please use your own words.

Below are suggested responses linked to the questions in the consultation that can help inform your own responses.

Responses need to be made online at: www​.bit​.ly/​g​r​a​r​e​s​p​ond18

We will be responding to the consultation fully before it closes, and further resources from the Evangelical Alliance will be available soon.

Key questions to answer

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

Yes.

We are concerned at the attempt to de-medicalise this area. There is troubling but clear evidence that those presenting with gender dysphoria are more likely to experience mood disorders, anxiety disorders, autism and attempt suicide. We would be concerned that the proposed changes would make trans people less likely to seek medical attention. They would also undermine the pain experienced by those who experience gender dysphoria.

Changing the process to an administrative act, opens up the process to abuse and leaves the government collecting data on people’s gender identity and not their sex.

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

Yes.

This requirement protects against misuse of the system and preserves its integrity.

Question 5. A series of questions about the current gender recognition system.

Yes.

A person should have to provide evidence showing that they have lived in their acquired gender for a significant period. Removing this requirement along with the others stated above would leave the system open to abuse. Given the substantial nature of the change being discussed the two year period seems reasonable.

Question 6. Currently, applicants for a gender recognition certificate must make a statutory declaration as part of the process.

Yes.

Making a statutory declaration is a reminder of the seriousness of the change being contemplated. It also prevents misuse of the process. However, the declaration must not prevent a person returning to their birth sex.

Question 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?

Yes.

Spousal consent is essential to prevent forced marriage — a spouse being forced into a same-sex marriage against their will. The marriage covenant involves significant and life long commitments between spouses who agree to limit ourselves and their personal freedom for the sake of another. The sex of a partner is an essential part of marriage. Spouses should always be informed of any change and should have to consent, noting that if they do not consent, the person seeking transition can still pursue a divorce under the existing provisions of Gender Recognition Act and then transition.

Question 13. 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?

Yes.

We must maintain the single sex provisions in the Equality Act 2010 to safeguard single sex facilities, services and spaces.

Question 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?

Yes.

Religious organisations should continue to be exempt from employing a trans person if this would conflict with their beliefs.

Question 15. Do you think that the operation of the communal accommodation exception in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the Gender Recognition Act?

Yes.

Changing the Gender Recognition Act will increase the pressure to allow biological males into single-sex facilities such as dormitories and shared bedrooms affecting schools, universities, prisons and hostels.

Question 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?

Yes.

It is important that clergy are not required to solemnise marriages for people who have changed gender. Without sufficient protection ministers might be forced or tricked into performing same sex marriages.

Questions 19. Do you think that changes to the Gender Recognition Act will impact on areas of law and public services other than the Equality Act 2010?

Yes.

There is the potential for significant negative impacts on free speech.

Question 20. Do you think that there need to be changes to the Gender Recognition Act to accommodate individuals who identify as non-binary?

No.

Including a non-binary category’ would cause further confusion particularly undermining marriage and family law. The government itself also recognises significant problems and costs in relation to recognising a third sex’.

Question 22. Do you have any further comments about the Gender Recognition Act 2004?

  • We have compassion for those who suffer from gender dysphoria and are deeply concerned that they have been overlooked in these proposals in favour the ideological movement over the rare medical condition.
  • The proposal to remove any legal and medical steps from the process underestimates the seriousness of what is involved.
  • There are significant safeguarding concerns that the most vulnerable will be put at risk by moves to self-identification.
  • The proposals may lead to forced marriages by removing spousal consent.
  • Churches and ministers may be forced into performing same-sex marriages undermining previous exemptions.
  • The proposals are a threat to free speech and risk compelling speech — forcing people to partake in what they would see as a fiction or untruth.
  • Only 18 per cent of people support self-identification according to a recent YouGov poll.

Act now

The consultation closes on Friday, 19 October 2018 and we need lots of responses to make our concerns clear to the Government. Remember you do not have to answer all the questions.

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