Summary of UK trans* issues

The following is taken from a paper produced in May 2014 by the UK charity, GIRES. It is a useful summary of the issues facing trans* citizens and the groups working with them for equality.

Introduction

The numbers of transgender people presenting for medical treatment is increasing by 20% pa. This figure rises to 50% for young people. EHRC estimates that 1% of the population fall under the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.

Transgender people are the victims of unequal treatment under the law. This sets a dreadful example and fuels the discriminatory and sometimes violent and abusive treatment experienced by many trans people.

The current government has chosen to ignore a growing cohort of younger people who do not identify with the gender binary. Many such people have no protection under the 2010 Equality Act and have no mechanism to get appropriate ID. In effect they are being excluded from Society.

Surely in 2015 equality and enjoyment of full Human Rights shouldbe an entitlement of all?

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A course of action is requested to achieve the following end state:

(a) having no legislation permitting discrimination on the grounds of gender identity or non gender binary identification;

(b) truly equal marriage;

(c) abolition of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act and new processes for gaining appropriate ID;

(d) education for younger people to eliminate prejudice in the longer term; and

(e) new medical treatment models to cope with the rapidly increasing numbers presenting for treatment.

Government must come to realise that people cannot be categorised into neat boxes and its obsession in trying to do so is making life very difficult for many!

A summary of requested actions is given below. [More detail on each section can be found in separate posts]:

1. Legislative revisions [More detail on this can be found here]

Equality Act 2010: Remove any rights to legally discriminate against transgender people. Grant protections to those who do not fit into the gender binary.

Gender Recognition Act 2004: Trans people find the process of having their assertions of gender incongruence checked for truth by the Gender Recognition Panel a degrading and patronising (and also expensive and protracted) process. The Act was introduced to address the lack of same sex marriage in the UK and is no longer relevant, and indeed divisive. Given that gender related discrimination is no longer permitted in the UK, a legal change of gender on birth certificates should be a self driven administrative process.

Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013: The Spousal Veto must be removed if this remains in the Act when the trans marriage regulations are passed later in 2014. The marriages of couples who were forced to annul and subsequently formed civil partnerships should be reinstated. Government assertions “that the past cannot be rewritten” are hollow given that birth certificates, and soon marriage certificates, can now be altered.

Matrimonial Causes Act 1973: Section 12(h) (non disclosure of gender history) must be withdrawn. Under this provision trans people are singled out for treatment not applied to any other group. Furthermore, as one does not have to disclose (for example) that one is a convicted murderer or married to another) before having sex, why can one be imprisoned for not doing so if one has a trans history?

Application of EU law to pension claimants: Despite very clear and well established superior European Court of Justice case law, the Department of Work and Pensions, supported by some but not all Courts, continues to act unlawfully towards some transgender pension claimants.

2. Non gender binary issues [More detail on this can be found here]

Marriage laws: Gendered language in ceremonies should be optional.

Passports: The introduction of the X marker on passports is long overdue. The conclusion of a recent Passport Office report on this topic was that there is no demand for X markers contradicted the evidence it received.

Birth Certificates: As part of the new provisions following the Gender Recognition Act a mechanism should be introduced to allow the sex classification to be removed or changed or an “X” category added.GIRES encourages direct communication with the appropriate communities.

3. Education [More detail on this can be found here]

It is the experience of GIRES that many in government do not understand the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. This is vividly demonstrated by married trans people and their spouses “being shoehorned into arrangements for gay and lesbian people” (evidence: Commons Committee Stage, Same Sex Marriage Bill). However, the route to combating transphobia longer term is to introduce awareness training on diversity, early in the education process, in schools.

4. Medical treatment of trans people [More detail on this can be found here]

Despite some recent progress in improved treatment protocols, the growing numbers presenting for medical help are now overwhelming the specialist clinics. Although gender dysphoria is no longer accepted as a psychiatric condition, treatment generally remains under the control of specialist clinics led by psychiatrists. Inappropriate treatment and increasing delays are harming transgender people. New treatment models must be implemented to ensure timely and flexible treatment packages that make best use of the funds available.

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Trans* Jersey’s response to the proposals in GIRES’ report

Because so much of Jersey’s transgender and transsexual population’s experience is as a result of having treatment in the UK or acquiring their gender recognition certificate from the UK, these issues affect us, too. Trans* Jersey, therefore, wholly supports the aims and proposals of GIRES and the other trans* organisations working to reform the law in the UK.

To find out more about how Jersey trans* individuals are affected by each of the four proposals listed above, click on the links to more detail where we outline the proposed change in greater depth and explain how we would like to see the States of Jersey tackle these issues.

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