The cost has been cut from £140 to £5 but changes stop short of “meaningful reform”
BY DIVA STAFF
The cost of applying for a gender recognition certificate (GRC) has been reduced from £140 to £5, taking affect today (Tuesday 4 May).
Introduced under the Gender Recognition Act 2004, a GRC allows a person’s legal gender to be recorded on their birth and marriage certificates. The process has long been criticised by campaigners for being invasive, expensive and bureaucratic.
In response to a 2018 consultation on the Gender Recognition Act, Liz Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities, announced the reduced fee and an online application that will make the process “fairer and simpler”.
Truss said: “As we build back better, we want transgender people to be free to live and to prosper in modern Britain.
“In the National LGBT Survey, 34% of transgender people told us that the cost of applying for a certificate was holding them back from doing so. Today we have removed that barrier, and I am proud that we have made the process of getting a certificate fairer, simpler and much more affordable.”
But the changes to the gender recognition process don’t go far enough, with campaigners describing it was “the absolute bare minimum”.
Chay Brown, a spokesperson for TransActual, said: “What we know, and what we hear from our supporters is that the system is still fundamentally broken.
“Most of the barriers to applying remain: not least the cost of amassing evidence. Moving the application process online will do nothing, on its own, to reduce the uncertainties surrounding that process. Indeed, if it is moved wholly online, then the net effect of this change could make it even harder for some trans people to apply for a GRC.
“Not least is the problem that medical experts attempting to support trans applicants find themselves faced with guidance that would have left Kafka reeling. There is no clarity as to what evidence counts, what terminology may be used – and an ongoing problem that those who transitioned some years ago are frequently unable to supply documentation, either because it is no longer valid or because it has simply vanished over the years.
“The ultimate insult to the trans community is that the announcement justifies this change by reference to a Government consultation on this issue. In that consultation, a majority of respondents were in favour of simplifying the process and removing both the need for medical reports and the spousal veto – all of which would have had far more impact in reducing the costs that trans people face. The Government has ignored all of those proposals, going instead for the proposal with the least benefit to trans people.
“The Government has also ignored a growing demand for the recognition of non-binary people. This is despite a growing trend towards doing this elsewhere in the world, and despite a petition which, as of yesterday, had amassed over 100,000 signatures.
“To pick and choose which bits of a consultation you will support, while simultaneously patting yourself on the back for doing so, is disingenuous in the extreme.”
Nancy Kelley, CEO of Stonewall, called for further information on moving the process online, and pushed the government to commit to meaningful reform. She said: “It’s important that the government commit to a clear timeline of further changes to streamline the application process, and move it online.
“However, none of these changes are a substitute for meaningful reform to the Gender Recognition Act.”
5,871 GRC’s have been granted since 2005, according to government figures.
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