The Gender Recognition Act – what is it?
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) is the law that governs how trans people can get their gender identity legally recognised – and so have the correct gender marked on their birth certificate. This law is in urgent need of reform.
The current process, under the GRA, means trans people have to go through a series of intrusive medical assessments and long, demeaning and bureaucratic interviews with psychiatrists in order to ‘prove’ their gender identity. It requires trans people to have a formal diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’, to live in their ‘acquired gender’ for two years, and hand over evidence supporting all of this to a gender recognition panel (composed of clinicians who have never met the applicant) who have the power to approve, or deny, an application.
This recognition process is lengthy – and can take many years. The length of time and the number of professionals who need to be involved puts an unnecessary strain on our NHS. But more importantly, it means that trans people cannot determine their own personal identity.
Currently fewer than one in ten trans people have legal recognistion, meaning they cannot change the sex on their birth certificate or on their tax records.
People who are non-binary (they don’t identify as either male or female) don’t have any legal recognition at all under the current GRA. You also have to be 18 to get recognition of your gender identity under the current law.
It would mean everything to me for the process of getting a certificate to be made more accessible, so I could be recognised fully as the gender I am
Lewis Hancox - Read Lewis's story
Stonewall Scotland’s View
We’re campaigning for reforms to the Gender Recognition Act alongside our friends at the Equality Network and the Scottish Trans Alliance. Our plan for trans equality – A Vision for Change, gives more details about our work for trans equality across the UK.
We support a reformed Gender Recognition Act that requires no medical diagnosis or presentation of evidence for trans people to get their identity legally recognised. It is important that the updated legislation recognises non-binary identities, and that it gives all trans people the right to self-determination, through a much simpler and more streamlined administrative process. We’re also calling for the age of legal recognition to be lowered to recognise the rights of trans young people.
In December 2019, the Scottish Government proposed a draft bill to reform the Gender Recognition Act and launched a public consultation on this. This consultation has now closed. Thank you for making your voice heard and helping to influence reform of the Gender Recognition Act in Scotland.
The Scottish Government’s proposals would be an important step towards greater equality for trans people in Scotland - by demedicalising the process, gender recognition will become a much less stressful process for many trans people, who will no longer need to gather evidence and medical report. These changes would allow trans people to change their birth certificate to recognise them as who they are, including when they marry, pay their taxes or get their pension.