Tuesday , 17 September 2019

Why is the UK government still failing trans folk with regards to gender identity ?

Gender Recognition ActIt’s 2015 and being trans myself I have just about finished my journey to become who I really am, Justine Melanie Smithies, Wife & Mother of three children and Grandmother of two. I have done everything by the rules according to our government and in return they have helped me change my UK driving licence from Justin Mark to Justine Melanie and even changed my gender to female. I have also obtained a full UK passport requiring only a short video link meeting to prove who I am and it too has been issued to Justine Melanie Smithies and the gender is clearly marked “F” for female. At my doctors when I check in for an appointment I enter my name, confirm my date of birth and confirm my gender is female. Yet I cannot change my marriage certificate as we intend to stay married but at the moment my wife is married to Justin Mark yet he does not exist any more so are we married or not ? Also I cannot change my birth certificate to female without applying for a gender recognition certificate (GRC) which would enable me to correct the above only if all the following are true which of course are:

  • you’re 18 or over
  • you’ve been diagnosed with gender dysphoria (discomfort with your birth gender) – this is also called gender identity disorder or transsexualism
  • you’ve lived in your acquired gender in the UK for at least 2 years
  • you intend to live in your acquired gender for the rest of your life

Easy, you might think, just like applying for a full UK passport which at the end of the day is a document used for national security when travelling etc… Wrong! To get your GRC you first have to pay a fee of £140 which might not seem a lot but if you are not working as a lot of trans people are not as fortunate as myself to still have employment or are even able to get due to employers not willing to employ trans folk because of transphobia etc then this is a massive stumbling block.

Once you have furnished them with the said fee you then have to provide the following to prove to them that you are the said gender and have been living as that person on paper too. To qualify for recognition under this provision you must be able to prove that you have lived full time in your acquired gender for at least two years before the date of your application. Therefore, in this section, we ask you to tell us the date from which you can demonstrate that you have been living full time in your acquired gender and we ask you to provide supporting evidence.

Which is a lot of paper work to keep for 2 years to make sure you have enough proof. Here is an example from their guidance form of the required documents.

Evidence could take a variety of forms. The following lists some examples:
•Official documentation e.g. driving licence (both counterpart and photo ID) and passport;
•Payslips or HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) documents such as a P60 or P45;
•Department of Work and Pensions or HMRC benefit or tax letters or documents;
•Bank or other financial institution documents or statements;
•Letters from official, professional or business organisations such as from solicitors, accountants, dentists, doctors, employers or letters from people who know you on a personal basis;
•Utility bills;
•Academic certificates or documentation;
•Health Care or identity cards including photo ID issued by an official organisation.

Where relevant a passport, driving licence, payslips or benefit documents, utility bills or other documents of an official nature.

You then have to provide two reports for the panel one must be made by a registered medical practitioner or registered psychologist practising in the field of gender dysphoria and must include the details of your diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The second must be made by a registered medical practitioner who may, but need not practise in the field of gender dysphoria. For example this report could be completed by your GP or surgeon.

Even then there is no guarantee that this panel of anonymous people will grant you you GRC. Also what about the people who transitioned before gender recognition certificates were available like Sandra MacDougall who is 63 and transitioned in 2000 before the Gender Recognition Act was introduced in 2004, which introduced Gender Recognition Certificates, and therefore never received one ? She is female and has been issued a UK passport with the gender female yet when she came to retire at 63 the retirement age for women the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) turned around and said she was male as she did not have a GRC. So now she no longer has a pension and has to go through the whole process above which would mean she would be unable to receive her pension before 2017.

The UK government seriously need to change the gender recognition act as it is out dated, demeaning and ruins peoples lives. I mean how can certain departments say yes you are that gender by simply filling in a form like the DVLA and the passport office yet others like the DWP say absolutely not unless you can go through the whole process of obtaining a GRC ? All I want to do is have my marriage certificate changed and to renew our vows and all Sandra MacDougall wants is to retire after being a hard work citizen of the UK most of her life as many other people get to do so easily.

About Justine Smithies

Justine Smithies
Justine (trans & proud ) is a marine electronics engineer based in Aberdeenshire by day and lives in Cruden Bay with her wife and daughter. She has written for the Glass Closet , YWCA Scotland and also on her own blog. Justine has also started an LGBT group called "Just Be Yourself" for people of all ages based in Aberdeenshire, whose website can be found at http://www.justbeyourself.org.uk

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  1. "Also what about the people who transitioned before gender recognition certificates were available like Sandra MacDougall who is 63 and transitioned in 2000 before the Gender Recognition Act was introduced in 2004, which introduced Gender Recognition Certificates, and therefore never received one ?"
    That can't be right! I transitioned around the same time, and in 2004 applied for and received a GRC. Unless the rules have changed then surely it should be possible?

    • James_Morton

      For just the first two years after the Gender Recognition Act was passed, there was a temporary fast track application route for people who were long term transitioned. The problem was that many people who could have used it didn't know about it until after it had expired. So since 2007, everyone seeking a GRC is required to provide a detailed psychiatric report from a Gender Recognition Panel approved NHS gender specialist along with their other evidence – no matter how long they've been transitioned. Often no suitable report exists – for example, NHS Lothian binned most of their pre-2010 GIC records when they moved the location of their GIC! This means people like Sandra are forced to reapply to a NHS Gender Identity Clinic and wait around a year for an appointment to be reassessed as trans (despite it being obvious that they are trans) just so they can get the necessary official psychiatric report from an approved gender specialist.

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