Gender recognition process

Image54The main reason that a transgender person would apply for a gender recognition certificate is to amend the sex that they were assigned at birth on their birth certificate.

You do not require a gender recognition certificate to acquire a passport in your recognised gender in Jersey. With the amendment to the Marriage and Civil Status (Jersey) Law in 2018 there is also now no requirement for a gender recognition certificate in order to marry as your recognised gender, Jersey’s marriage law is now effectively “blind” when it comes to the gender of the two people marrying.

The current process for acquiring a gender recognition certificate in Jersey involves acquiring a gender recognition certificate from another approved jurisdiction first, presenting that to the Royal Court, who will then issue the applicant with a Jersey gender recognition certificate. In effect, Jersey has “outsourced” the decision regarding issuing a gender recognition certificate to one of its citizens to other jurisdictions. Inevitably, in Jersey’s case, this means being reliant on the UK process for gender recognition.

In January 2016, the Women’s and Equality Committee produced a report (see section 3 of the report) investigating amongst other things the Gender Recognition Act and the gender recognition process for trans people. As a result, both the UK and Scottish parliaments are considering amending the Gender Recognition Act that is widely seen as unfit for purpose and a degrading process for trans people.

Irrespective of what the UK decides to do about its legislation, Liberate believes that this outsourcing model abdicates the States of Jersey’s responsibility of care to its transgender citizens and that there exists an opportunity for Jersey’s government to put in place an exemplary self-declaration process that is closer to the ones seen in other countries in Europe, which does not medicalise or pathologise transgender islanders or ask them to submit a body of evidence of their gender to an unseen panel.

Other countries

Whilst progress to amend the UK’s law has stalled, there are some countries that have already implemented the self-declaration model, so Jersey would not be breaking new ground if it were to follow them:

Ireland – Gender Recognition Bill (2015)

A person over the age of 18 can change their gender by way of a ‘statutory declaration’. A guide to Ireland’s process can be found here.

Malta – Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act (2015)

A person over the age of 16 can change their gender by way of a ‘statutory declaration’ –

Norway – Legal Gender Amendment Act (2016)

Any person over the age of 16 can change their gender and name by submitting a short document to the local tax office. Young people between 6 and 16 can access the process if at least one parent consents to it –

Argentina – Gender Identity Law (2012)

A person over the age of 18 can change their name and gender by submitting a document to the National Bureau of Vital Statistics. The law also gives adults access to sex reassignment surgery and hormone therapy as a part of their public or private health care plans –

Portugal – Gender identity law (2018)

A person over the age of 16 can change their gender by making a statutory declaration. The legislation also makes it illegal to perform unnecessary surgery on intersex babies –

Belgium – Legal Gender Recognition Law (2017)

A person from the age of 16 can change their gender by submitting a document to the civil registry. The process includes a three-month waiting period –

Denmark also has self-declaration, but with a six-month waiting time –

Liberate is not in favour of any waiting time because, as the article says, a “waiting period may also perpetuate misconceptions of trans people as being “confused” about their gender, instead of encouraging them to change their documents quickly so that they can participate fully and freely in all aspects of life.”

Progress: Liberate has met with the Judicial Greffier to discuss what can be done within existing law as it stands to facilitate a self-declaration-style process for transgender islanders.

Transgender healthcare

Image44There is currently a lack of gender therapy skills in Jersey, which means that the pathway to care for someone with gender dysphoria (a transgender person) who is seeking hormone therapy to transition is –

  • An appointment with your GP in Jersey, who then refer to…
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) or Adult Mental Health Services (AMHS) in Jersey, who then refer to…
  • The NHS Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) in the UK.

The above process currently takes on average 18 months for the first appointment at the GIC in the UK. It is highly unlikely that any hormone therapy would be prescribed at a first appointment, so it is likely that at least two appointments in the UK would be required for a patient, lengthening the time further before any treatment commences.

For someone who is clear about their gender identity and has no underlying mental health conditions the process of sending them via Mental Health Services is inappropriate, complicated, lengthy, costly to the States of Jersey and could be delivered on-island by a GP with some skills in gender identity issues in consultation with the States of Jersey Endocrinology Department.

For someone who would like to talk to a therapist about their gender identity before taking any steps to transition and has no complicating mental health conditions the process could also be delivered on-island without referral to the critical care of CAMHS or AMHS by a local psychotherapist/psychologist with an understanding of gender identity issues in consultation with the patient’s GP and the States of Jersey Endocrinology Department.

In a small proportion of cases where there is a serious mental health issue in addition to a desire to undertake a gender transition, the current pathway to care may be appropriate. For the majority of cases, it is not and is placing an unnecessary burden on over-stretched critical care mental health services in Jersey.

The World Health Organisation declassified gender incongruence as a mental health condition in June this year –

Due to the distress caused by the long waiting times for transgender patients for their first appointment with someone who can actually assist them with hormone therapy we know that there are GPs in Jersey who are prescribing hormones as an interim measure to alleviate the patient’s distress until they can access the GIC in the UK.

Background note: the gender therapists working in the GIC (or privately) in the UK are not trained as such. There is no qualification that a medical professional can get to qualify them as a gender therapist. Gender therapists are trained psychotherapists/psychologists who have experience of dealing with or written research papers regarding or otherwise have an interest in gender issues.

The solution

We need to provide the island’s GPs and psychotherapists/psychologists with the skills to service transgender clients in Jersey. This would remove the burden of transgender patients automatically being seen by Mental Health Services, releasing those professionals for critical cases that need them.

GPs particularly need support so, where they are prescribing hormones to alleviate distress, they are doing so with an understanding of gender issues. They also then have the skills to know whether to refer to a therapist or whether the patient is clear about their gender identity and desire to transition and that transition can be managed at primary care level.

Having up-skilled GPs and psychotherapists/psychologists, there should be no barrier to Jersey being able to provide hormone therapy to transgender patients without recourse to the NHS, saving the cross-charges associated with that referral and relieving a stretched service in the NHS of a burden.


Having achieved self-sufficiency with regard to hormone therapy, it is unlikely that the island would be able to do the same for most of the specialist surgical procedures required by transgender patients.

The States of Jersey would need to agree a new cross-charging model with the NHS for this part of a transgender patient’s treatment, specifically an agreement regarding who can refer into the NHS for surgery.

Currently, referrals for transgender surgeries within the NHS come from the GIC in the UK. However, if Jersey is able to standalone for the (usual) first part of a person’s transition (hormone therapy), Jersey patients would not necessarily access the GIC any longer, so a new referral model would be required, such as the NHS accepting referrals from a central Jersey point that, in turn, accepts referrals from a Jersey GP or psychotherapist/psychologist.

ITV Channel recently covered this issue with Liberate’s input and you can see their reports here:

Progress: Liberate delivered a two day course in 2017 to a number of Jersey mental health professionals in partnership with the UK non-profit organisation Gendered Intelligence, which provides training by mental health professionals for medical professionals on gender identity issues.

Psychotherapists/psychologists received training in November 2018 from Dr Christina Richards, Lead Consultant Psychologist/Head of Psychology at the NHS London Gender Identity Clinic (Charing Cross) within the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

We are looking for a sponsor to be able to provide gender identity training to Jersey GPs.

We have delivered evidence to the Health and Social Services Scrutiny Panel looking into mental health services in Jersey as to how waiting times might be reduced for transgender islanders. (Video of the panel hearing can be seen here.)

We have met and continue to work with professionals from the Health and Social Services Department who are looking into how Jersey can improve its pathway to care for transgender islanders.

We have met with the Health Minister Deputy Richard Renouf to discuss the reforms needed and received his support for making the process better for trans islanders.