Coverage of the Gender Recognition Act

Coverage of the Gender Recognition Act

In light of BBC Radio 4’s discussion on 9th December 2019 with the prior Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson about the Gender Recognition Act (also known as the GRA), Wokeally wants to take the opportunity to correct a few inaccuracies, including what the current proposal to amend the GRA really means.

The Gender Recognition Act will not affect anyone except transgender people.  The existing law gives transgender men and women the right to receive a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), which in turn, allows them to receive a corrected birth certificate that equals the gender they know themselves to be.  The current proposal is to simply make that same process more helpful, less bureaucratic and less invasive, while retaining the legal obligations and accountability that go with such a certificate.

A Gender Recognition Certificate is explicitly not an identity document, for which passports, driving licences and other documents are commonly used.  For decades, transgender men and women have been able to change the gender markers on their passports, driving licenses and other documents often used for identification without needing a GRC.  Importantly, surgery is not a requirement to change any form of ID in the UK. The proposed streamlining of the GRA process will not impact anyone’s existing access to correctly gendered identification documents, nor the appropriate access to spaces, as this is covered separately by the Equality Act 2010.


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On rare occasions where a birth certificate may be requested (e.g. applying for a job, opening a bank account, security checks), a transgender person will be able to supply their corrected birth certificate, which reflects who they are day-to-day, enabled by the issuing of a GRC.

Legal gender recognition for non-binary people and for under-18s is, however, not a reality in the UK.  This is a matter which many human rights organisations here are campaigning for, as it has proven positive and helpful in several countries across the world already.  It is an important issue that should be addressed, as everyone deserves the right to be legally recognised for who they are.

More information about the GRA and what it means can be found here.

We urge journalists and media platforms to take care when covering the Gender Recognition Act and transgender matters in general, to avoid repeating inaccuracies that misrepresent law and the existing status of trans men and trans women, and of the lives of non-binary people.

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