GRA reform is scrapped today in what’s been called a “shocking failure in leadership”

BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS

After many years of waiting for some positive change surrounding the Gender Recognition Act reform for England and Wales, today it has been announced that the plans for reform have been scrapped entirely. 

Liz Truss, the minister for women and equalities, has today confirmed that the plans to “streamline and de-medicalise” the process by which trans people have their gender legally recognised, first put forward by Theresa May in 2017, will remain practically unchanged. 

Despite overwhelming support being shown for the rights of trans people to self identity, for medical requirements to be dropped, and for non-binary people to be recognised, there are only “minor administrative changes” being put into action. 

For example, three new gender clinics will be opened, the process of applying to change legal sex will be moved online and the current fee of £140 will be reduced to a “nominal amount”.

Liz Truss stated that instead of changing the legislation, the process and experience of applying for a gender recognition certification would be made “kinder and more straightforward.” 

She also added that gender recognition reform is “not the top priority for transgender people” and that their “most important concern is the state of trans healthcare”.

LGBTQI charity Stonewall has condemned the government’s response, saying it has “fallen far short on its promise to reform” and “missed a key opportunity to progress LGBT equality”.

You can read the full statement from Stonewall below. 

Nancy Kelley, Stonewall, Chief Executive said: “Today, the UK Government has fallen far short on its promise to reform the Gender Recognition Act, and has missed a key opportunity to progress LGBT equality. 

“It’s a shocking failure in leadership that after three years and a robust public consultation, the UK Government has put forward only minimal administrative changes to improve the process for legal gender recognition of trans people in England and Wales. While these moves will make the current process less costly and bureaucratic, they don’t go anywhere near far enough toward meaningfully reforming the Act to make it easier for all trans people to go about their daily life.  

“All trans people deserve to be respected for who they are. Reforming the Act could have brought England and Wales in line with our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland, who have had a de-medicalised, self-determination system for gender recognition since 2015 without any problematic repercussions. The Government’s own response states that a strong majority of people who responded to the consultation supported these reforms. And just last week the British Medical Association called on the Government to allow trans people to be recognised for who they are without a medical diagnosis. So, we share the frustration and disappointment of trans people and allies who have campaigned and fought hard for GRA reform over the last few years.   

“Stonewall stands with, and sends our solidarity to, trans communities across the UK, whose lives and identities have been made the subject of a relentless ‘debate’ ever since the Government announced its plans to reform the Act through a public consultation. In the three years since, waiting times for Gender Identity Services have grown longer than ever, recorded anti-trans hate crimes have trebledand anti-trans bullying remains endemic in our schools. The UK’s stalled progress on trans equality is now one of the main reasons we continue to fall behind other European countries on LGBT equality in ILGA-Europe’s annual ranking.

“It is vital the UK Government tackles these issues head-on, and so the opening of at least three new Gender Identity Clinics this year is an important step towards reducing these waiting lists.  

“Thank you to the thousands upon thousands of trans people and allies who took to the streets, wrote and called MPs, and shared your support online in hope of more progressive change. Stonewall will continue to call for acceptance without exception, and we won’t stop until every trans person, everywhere, is free to be themselves.”

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