GENDER RECOGNITION ACT
In the summer of 2017, the UK’s Conservative Government announced proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act and declared there would be a public consultation. This finally started on 3 July 2018 and closed on 22 October 2018. I have archived the information this page contained about responding to the consultation here.
This page is for links to news stories and articles pertaining to transgender rights law amendment and self-ID.
97% of respondents said no.
Only 18 percent of respondents – 13 percent of Tory voters, 18 percent of Lib Dem voters, and 24 percent of Labour voters – support following a self-identification standard without a doctor’s approval.
News stories, articles and blogs
‘Self ID will stop women competing on an equal playing field’ Morning Star 15.07.19
“In a sign of ever-growing public concern about proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act which could permit people to self-identify their sex, 750 women’s rights activists and supporters gathered last week to hear from high-profile sportswomen and scientists about the impact of permitting male transgender athletes to compete against women in sports.”
Questioning gender self-ID is not heresy Sunday Times 28.04.19
“At the heart of the dispute is, I think, the suspicion held by many feminists that not all transwomen are really women. Some of them, they think, are really men who present themselves as women but have no intention of actually transitioning. At its bluntest, it comes down to this: if you have a penis and a beard, you’re not a woman and no amount of pressure or name-calling will persuade these feminists this is not the case.”
Reforming the Gender Recognition Act must not abolish the biological meaning of sex Ian McWhirter 18.04.19
“Intolerance has infected this debate to such an extent that it is almost impossible now to discuss it rationally. Since I became involved, an increasing number of women have approached me privately saying that they have been silenced. This includes politicians, academics and media figures – hardly shrinking violets.”
Don’t make trans switch easier, say public The Times 05.01.19 (maybe behind paywall)
“The public are happy for transgender women to use women’s changing rooms and lavatories but do not think it should be easier to change gender legally, a poll for The Times has found.”
“Maria Miller has today accused the government of “mishandling” its approach to transgender issues, saying that many trans people cannot access healthcare, which is a bigger issue than being able to self-define your gender. (Currently, the gender recognition certificate process involves two years living “in role” and a medical diagnosis of dysphoria, although it’s easier to just change your passport and other documents.)”
2021 census will ask your gender identity The Times 16.12.18
“Everyone aged 16 and over will be asked in the 2021 census if they wish to declare their gender identity. There will also be a new voluntary question about sexual orientation.”
Why we’re lying to ourselves over trans rights Toby Young 01.12.18
“On 21 November, a debate took place in the House of Commons about proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier for transgender people to self-identify as men or women. Among the public, this is a widely discussed issue, with most echoing the concerns of feminists about the risks of allowing biological males to enter women’s changing rooms, etc. But until last week the issue hadn’t been debated in the Commons, partly because MPs who have reservations about changing the law are afraid to speak out.”
Gender recognition, self-ID and next steps Julian Norman Counsel Magazine December 2018 edition
“As the government’s consultation over proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (‘GRA’) closed, debate on and offline continues to rage – sometimes literally – over what exactly this will mean. Will reform of the GRA be purely a matter of simplifying an administrative burden, or will it inevitably have an effect on the Equality Act 2010 (EqA) and what it means, in law, to be male or female? Is this a zeitgeist-rattling sign of social progress, or a backwards step towards a philosophy that regards gender roles as innate?”
Take it from a trans person: Corbyn is wrong about self-ID Zuzanna Mroz 26.10.18
“In making his comments, Corbyn sent a clear signal that, even if the Government chooses to heed warnings from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and various women’s groups and scrap the proposed reforms, Labour will include self-declaration in its next election manifesto.
Such a change is both unnecessary and dangerous. In fact, the current system strikes the right balance between empowering legitimately trans people to change their legal gender and receive a high standard of medical care on one hand and providing reasonable safeguards to prevent abuse of the system on the other.”
Transgender politics focuses on who determines someone’s gender Economist 25.10.18
“Transgender claims can affect the lives of non-trans people. For example, once you abandon anatomy, attempts to help children determine for themselves whether they are boys or girls soon fall back on stereotypes: if you’re a leader and planner you’re a boy; if you’re nurturing and a gossip you’re a girl.”
Trans extremists are putting equality at risk Trevor Phillips in The Times 22.10.18
“The disaster of the public consultation process on gender recognition has revealed a government so terrified of being labelled transphobic that it is ready to destroy half a century of painstakingly assembled anti-discrimination legislation to the detriment of every woman, person of colour and disabled individual in Britain.”
Making gender identity an issue creates confusion, self-doubt and worry in young people Melanie McDonagh Mail 21.10.18
“Now the golden rule in politics is: never consult on anything to which you don’t know the outcome before you start. So, I guess that means the Government has already made its mind up to pass the Gender Recognition Bill into law, which would allow anyone to identify as a different gender without so much as a doctor’s certificate, let alone surgery.”
The Politicisation of Public Bodies and the Gender Recognition Act Jo Bartosch 19.10.18
“Today’s Stonewall advert was a clear rebuttal to the one placed by Fair Play for Women and Girls. Since before the launch of the Gender Recognition Act, consultation grassroots groups such as We Need to Talk, Fair Play for Women and Woman’s Place UK have been pushing for an open discussion of the proposals. In response, women trying to meet have been physically assaulted, threatened, reported to employers and, in one case, subject to a bomb threat. One might almost call this domestic terrorism, and yet GCHQ have opted to publicly support trans’ rights lobbyists who have used these brutal intimidation tactics.”
We must reject ‘self-identification’ Spiked 19.10.18
“Self-identification reduces biological sex to insignificance and privileges an invented concept of gender, which, as trans-activists rarely tire from telling us, is what is in our heads, not between our legs. What it means to be a man or a woman becomes no more than a feeling.”
“Personally, I believe that it’s possible for someone born male to be a woman – a “real” woman, whatever that means – and vice versa. Male and female are biological categories, but “man” and “woman” are social ones. I see it like citizenship: you can be born in Dhaka or Dresden, and end up just as British as someone born in Doncaster.”
Transgender law reform has overlooked women’s rights, say MPs Guardian 17.10.18
“Senior MPs have called on the government to reconsider plans to make it easier for trans people to have their preferred gender legally recognised to ensure that the reforms are not detrimental to women’s rights. Maria Caulfield, the Conservative party’s former vice-chair for women, said the parliamentary inquiry into transgender rights, which informed the consultation that is due to end on Friday, was “fundamentally flawed” and failed to consider the wider implications of the proposals for women.”
Not all transsexuals think ‘trans women are women’ Debbie Hayton 17.10.18
“Despite what some might think, being transsexual doesn’t mean I was born in “the wrong body”; I was born in my body. There was nothing wrong with me – the problem lay with a society that forced me into gendered roles because of my sex. The restrictions and expectations became an ever-increasing burden that eventually crushed me. I transitioned to escape.”
What’s sex please, we’re British Caroline Criado Perez 16.10.18
“There’s just one problem: the government has, to date, provided no evidence whatsoever that it knows the difference between sex and gender. The proposed changes are to what is called the Gender Recognition Act. But the Act does not provide for changing your gender. It provides for legally changing your sex. Your gender recognition certificate as a trans woman does not state that you are a woman. It states that you are female.”
“Government suggest removing all medical gatekeeping and the crafted bonds of trust that establish medical necessity to change our legal status. We believe these safeguards are vital as a show of respect from us to society when seeking access into protected spaces such as toilets. Nobody should just demand this by right.”
Gender Recognition must be grounded in objective evidence Debbie Hayton 13.10.18
“As the Government Consultation on reforms to The Gender Recognition Act 2004 comes to a close, we should reflect on what is at stake. As a transsexual person I have a particular interest. While I understand the superficial attraction of self-declaration, a procedure based purely on an assertion of our own feelings, any process lacking objective evidence is vulnerable to abuse.”
How many fingers am I holding up? Sian Sullivan 04.10.18
“For some people the assertion ‘trans women are women’ does something similar to the Party slogans devised by Orwell. It messes with categories in various ways traced below, at the same time as truthfully conveying a contested reality towards which contemporary society is being pushed.
The present significance of the assertion in the UK revolves around a current public government consultation for reform of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) (deadline 19th October). Reform has been proposed so as to improve the rights of trans people who do not identify into adulthood with the sex recorded on their birth certificate.”
Why self-identification should not legally make you a woman Kathleen Stock 01.10.18
“A range of structural inequalities between females and males are widely recognised. These material facts about female oppression must be acknowledged when we think about two questions at the heart of a bitterly disputed UK government consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act. The first is whether self-identifying as a woman without medical certification should be sufficient criteria for legal gender reassignment. The second is whether self-identifying transwomen should be allowed into women-only spaces, and have access to women-only resources.”
The all-male national executive voted on Thursday night in favour of allowing gender self declaration by eight votes to three, the Telegraph understands. The vote will now go out to each region to consult on. Female members say they were not consulted and warned it will have huge implications for women, who make up just seven per cent of the force, regarding changing facilities and single sex dormitories.
Women are right to have concerns over trans reforms Debbie Hayton 13.09.18
“Transgender people like me change our legal sex and hence our access to facilities — everything from high street store changing rooms to prison cells. What works for one works for all: trans women, fetishists and even abusive men seeking access to women. It is a safeguarding nightmare.”
Women’s Rights and the Proposed Changes to the Gender Recognition Act The Oxford Human Rights Hub 17.8.18
“The effect of this proposal becoming law would be to erode the very concept of woman. It will erase women’s lived experiences, and undermine women’s rights. Being a woman is about sex and biology, in that our bodies determine so much of our experience, and also about the way we are constructed socially, which also helps determine our lived experiences. It is not about how a person feels or what they claim to feel.”
As the government launches a consultation on the Gender Recognition Act, seeking to streamline how transgender people register their new identities, some would say the move has been long overdue. But not Dr Nicola Williams, a research scientist specialising in human biology, who argues changes to the law could compromise female-only spaces.
The Gender Recognition Act consultation The Answer’s 42 blog 29.7.18
“This consultation is biased in favour of the beliefs of a small minority of psychologically unhealthy people who’ve adopted a catch-all explanation for their conditions, for a variety of reasons. The original act is deeply flawed. The proposed changes would make things worse.”
Some gender-critical voices are not being heard as they should James Kirkup 16.7.18
“Recent parliamentary debates on the transgender issue have demonstrated that politicians will queue up to proclaim their support for trans rights, something that can only be seen as positive. But those politicians (and I know a significant number) who see the need for better treatment of trans people at the same time as worrying about the potential impact on women and their legal rights are not so eager to speak. In those parliamentary debates, many chose to stay silent.”
It isn’t transphobic to question transgenderism Spiked online 11.7.18
“Clearly, when it comes to changes to the Gender Recognition Act, there is much that needs to be discussed. But the government’s consultation will ring hollow if any criticism of self-declaration is silenced either through physical intimidation or the tyranny of transgender activists. We need the freedom to say that being a woman, being female, is more than an instinct or a feeling.Clearly, when it comes to changes to the Gender Recognition Act, there is much that needs to be discussed. But the government’s consultation will ring hollow if any criticism of self-declaration is silenced either through physical intimidation or the tyranny of transgender activists. We need the freedom to say that being a woman, being female, is more than an instinct or a feeling.”
Society needs to dismantle sexism before revising legal definitions of sex Debbie Hayton 11.7.18
“Until society manages to dismantle sexism, therefore, we should be very careful when we revise legal structures that define people according to their sex. Although it is progressive to celebrate gender and encourage the freedom of gender, if we ignore sex then we ignore sexism. The proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act may have triggered the debate in Britain, but the issues run much wider.”
Labour and Tories finally see the truth about the gender debate James Kirkup 4.7.18
“The simple fact is that people with penises, whatever word we use to describe those people, are biologically different to people without penises, and that difference matters to many women in a way that cannot be dismissed as bigotry. It is, again, a simple fact that people with penises have the potential to commit certain acts of violence and abuse against others. That fact is the reason Parliament and society accept the concept of single-sex spaces: women have a right to keep someone with a penis out of those spaces.”
Improving the climate of debate around proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act Open Letter published in the Morning Star 3.7.18
“Some trans rights activists even continue to justify the use of violence, meaning that many women are simply too frightened to attend meetings that are both public and lawful in order that they may discuss their own rights.”
Changing the concept of “woman” will cause unintended harms Kathleen Stock in The Economist 6.7.18
“They want to change the law to allow gender self-identification via an administrative process of self-certification as the only criterion for legally changing the sex recorded on one’s birth certificate. However, I’ll now suggest that such a move is not cost-free. In particular, certain harms to original members of the category “woman” should be weighed against any gains.”
Gender identity needs to be based on objective evidence rather than feelings Debbie Hayton in The Economist 3.7.18
“Feminists can be robust in their approach, but they do have reasonable concerns: women would certainly be affected by a changed legal definition of what it means to be a woman. If future society becomes more conservative and dismissive, the outlook for trans people could become grim. Even if rights and protections are enshrined in law, they have little value if people do not respect them. The requirement to produce objective evidence might be seen by some as an affront to our dignity, but it justifies our claims without relying on our feelings or self-declared identities.”
A system of gender self-identification would put women at risk Kristina Harrison in The Economist 3.7.18
“The allegation of transphobia is not only being made against those who are actually hateful towards trans people, but is now used for anyone who dares dissent from the claims of this ideology or who supports sex-based rights. Being labelled transphobic can lead to harassment, and harm one’s reputation and career. That fear greatly affects people’s willingness to speak out. It is surely no coincidence that not a single female MP, and only one male MP that I’m aware of, have publicly questioned any aspect of these controversial proposals. This is not healthy for democracy, and does not serve trans people well.”
“I outed myself when I started to challenge postmodern thinking that suggests our sex depends not on our chromosomes, but what is in our heads; something that is not based in facts and evidence but in feelings and opinions; something that has established the mantra transwomen are women.”
Academic philosophy and the UK Gender Recognition Act Kathleen Stock
“Something is afoot in academic philosophy. Beyond the academy, there’s a huge and impassioned discussion going on, around the apparent conflict between women-who-are-not-transwomen’s rights and interests, and transwomen’s rights and interests. And yet nearly all academic philosophers — including, surprisingly, feminist philosophers — are ignoring it.”
“As a transwoman, I am delighted that Parliamentary time is being devoted to trans rights. Trans people continue to face systemic discrimination and bias, so it is timely to review the legislation. However, the more I reflect on the two specific proposals in this motion, the more anxious I become.”
“There are currently 91 women taking part in #ManFriday, revealed the mother-of-two, all of whom self-ID as men every Friday to access men-only spaces.
‘We don’t change anything about our appearance, or pretend to be in the process of transitioning, just state that we are men.'”
Gender, the GRA and Women’s Rights Leyaterra
“It should be clear too that the trauma male violence creates for the female population is both not our fault and inevitable, and that victims are the most likely to self-exclude, and indeed to suffer most from any further impact created by a policy of self ID. It’s also victims who are often accused of bigotry for being affected by male violence – which is horrific victim blaming and totally unacceptable.”
I lived for a short time to all intents & purposes (outwardly) as a very feminine heterosexual man – a Twitter thread by Kristina Jayne Harrison
“The truth is women, men & transsexuals are fighting together against Self ID and whilst women rightly lead
11) the contributions of transsexuals & of male allies have been important. A handful of transsexuals have done more to openly oppose the imposition of gender self identity in this proposed amendment of the GRA than the entire women’s PLP and the Women’s Equality Party combined.”
Is Jeremy Corbyn right that trans people should be allowed to self-identify their gender? Helen Lewis, New Statesman
“Incidentally, Miller said at the time of the report being released that the only opposition came from women “purporting to be feminists”; I am in no way surprised by this. I doubt if I stopped the average person in Britain – or even the average male MP in Westminster – they would have strong opinions on the potential drawbacks of the self-ID system. Feminists are literally the only group dedicated to interrogating whether proposed policies are bad for women. It’s not that everyone else necessarily thinks her proposal was a good idea; it’s more that they haven’t thought about it at all.”
“I am confident that the trade union movement is coming to an understanding that gender self-identity could undermine UK sex discrimination law and make exemptions to protect women’s services meaningless. It’s also fair to say that there is a strand within feminism that believes being inclusive is more important than protecting women’s rights. We are winning more and more women to the banner that their rights matter. We don’t underestimate the hard work though.”
Sex Matters Kiri Tunks, Morning Star
The relaxing of any legal definition of what it is to be a man or a woman could render sex discrimination law meaningless and any imposition of change without winning people to it is likely to cause a counter-productive backlash.
Neither is it helpful to say that these proposed changes only affect the trans community because it fundamentally isn’t true.
The ability to define one’s own “gender” will undermine the legal characteristic of “sex” and could lead to serious implications for women and their ability to fight sex discrimination and oppression.
Social acceptance of trans people springs from our relationship with society – and that works both ways Debbie Hayton Morning Star
“The trans community is small and vulnerable. We need to maintain the widespread trust and confidence of women to defend ourselves from the anti-trans zealots. History may well judge those people, though, sadly, they couldn’t seem to care less.
We therefore ignore women’s concerns at our peril. Women who were once enthusiastic allies of trans people are now more suspicious. The group with most to lose are trans women like me.”
Standing up for transsexual rights Letter in the Guardian
“We are transsexual people deeply concerned about the proposed removal of safeguards from the Gender Recognition Act. Replacing the evidenced-based process for obtaining a gender recognition certificate with an over-the-counter style self-declaration blurs the distinction between us and transgender people who remain physically intact.”
The Gender Identity Debate Explored Morning Star
“Four activists discuss the pros and cons of the Tories’ proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, which would allow self-identification of gender and abolish the requirement for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria before transition.”
“They came in a steady stream, picking their way across a garden in central Oxford to the Quaker meeting room beyond. A crowd of largely middle-aged women, the sort you would find at any literary festival or school open evening; friends exchanging kisses, a baby squawking in a pushchair. Only the chanting protesters outside gave the game away. For this was a meeting called by the feminist organisation Woman’s Place to discuss potential changes in the law on gender recognition, and that meant tension in the air.”
The Orwellian nightmare of transgender politics Brendan O’Neill
“The government wants to scrap the current requirement of a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria before you can switch gender and allow for ‘self-identification’. So any bloke could self-identify as a woman, apply for the legal right to be recognised as a woman, and – boom – he’s a woman. Sorry, she’s a woman.
It’s madness. And most people know it’s madness. Ask any normal, decent member of the public if Dave, 32, born a boy, still in possession of a penis, and a five o’clock shadow on a rough weekend, is a man or a woman, and I bet you they will say: ‘Man.’ Not because they are prejudiced or ‘transphobic’ – the latest phobia slur designed to pathologise dissent – but because they understand reality. And truth. And biology and experience.”
This gender battle is harder to solve than Brexit Janice Turner
“Much has changed since Maria Miller’s blithe 2016 trans rights report recommended sweeping, contentious changes including expedited hormone treatment for children and removing gender from official government records. Most controversially she sought to replace the GRC process whereby a person must live in their new gender for two years and have a diagnosis of “gender dysphoria” (a mental disorder whereby a person feels their identity is opposed to their biological sex). Instead Mrs Miller proposed “self-identify”, ie a man could simply declare himself a woman with no requirement to transition physically.”
Transgenderism Is A Fake Legal Construct Daniel Moody
“Consider too the glaring mismatch between New York City and Britain. In New York City we can now be fined $125,000 for “mis-pronouning” somebody. The British government instead intends to scrub gender markers from passports and other documents. Gender identity appears not to know what gender identity is: Is it something so sacred that a wrong word can cost us our livelihood? Or is it something that is of such little importance it does not even deserve a place on a job application form?”
We transgender women cannot self identify our sex Debbie Hayton, The Times
“When Lily Madigan, a 19-year-old transgender woman, was elected as a Labour Party women’s officer and applied for the Jo Cox Women in Leadership Programme, social media squabbles between transgender activists and women’s rights campaigners exploded into the mainstream.
The public must wonder what has been going on. A lot, it seems. The Labour councillor who was a referee on Ms Madigan’s application said the party had decided that “transgender women are women”, and he fundamentally believed that Lily is a woman.
People fundamentally believe lots of things but that does not necessarily make them true. We don’t legislate on the basis of astrology or homeopathy, for example, yet the government is considering reforms to the Gender Recognition Act that may allow people to self-identify their legal sex based on their fundamental beliefs.”
When Women’s Rights Are #NotaDebate Helen Saxby
“The new meaning of trans is currently being cemented into public consciousness by some very simple ideas used in a rather emotionally manipulative way. These ideas have been promoted so widely as to have reached the status of ‘self-evident’:
- Trans people are ‘Born in the Wrong Body’
- Gender is innate
- Around half of trans people will attempt suicide
- Trans people suffer abuse more than any other group
- Only trans people can talk about trans issues
- There is no evidence for any of this, and plenty of evidence against.”
Why is a A Male Rapist In a Woman’s Prison? Helen Saxby
“I duly read through the NHS Scotland Gender Reassignment Protocols. The treatment pathway for trans-identifying prisoners certainly takes considerable time (a whole year on hormones before assessment for surgery for example). But that’s ok: that is the one thing that the most serious of offenders have got in spades isn’t it…? Time…?
Diagnostically though, there is nothing rigorous or testing about it: it relies totally on the say-so of the presenting prisoner. Counselling or therapy are provided on the basis that the prisoner is telling the truth about his feelings, just as it is for non-prisoners. In fact, to do otherwise is now on the verge of being officially identified as conversion therapy.”
Why the Gender Recognition Act 2004 should be Abolished Miranda Yardley
“Presently the GRA requires a two year period of ‘living as another Sex’ before the legal sex can be changed. The most significant aspect of being a member of the opposite sex, aside from the biological aspects, are of course the socialisation we are subjected to.
This is probably the most dangerous thing the GRA does: it allows men socialised as men (who may still have their functioning penis, and as we know are likely heterosexual!) to declare themselves women without ever addressing this socialisation.”
Why self-identification shouldn’t be the only thing that defines our gender Rebecca Reilly-Cooper
“A legal redefinition of our existing gender categories so that they reflect gender identity, instead of biological sex, would have the consequence of overriding existing legal protections against discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex. While people of both sexes may identify as transgender, the implications of this are particularly noteworthy for women, who continue to face discrimination on the basis of their sex, and who are in need of protection from male violence and harassment. ”
Why This Tranny Is Against The Change In The Gender Recognition Act! Smashing Gender Change blog
“As a person on the trans spectrum living in the UK very publicly it isn’t the act that needs to be changed. What needs to be changed is how the 2004 act is policed. I know there’s an issue with employment for example. Yet the Government are doing very little to ensure this act is adhered to by employers. That needs to change. Let’s face it everyone should be entitled to make a living / carve a career for themselves without the fear of discrimination and that should include the trans community in there.”
Finally, one of the most moving talks I ever had the privilege to attend.
Gender Recognition Act DOES NOT need to change! Rose Dawn (transgender)
From the amazing Feminist Heretic.
Page last updated 06.05.19