“I don’t need a piece of paper to say who I am, I know who I am.”
Being trans is a troublesome gig. The daily struggle of recognition and the prospect of being on medication for life, for example. With February being LGBT+ month, StaffsLive decided to reach out into the community. One person who knows these toils very well is, ‘Lily’.
Lilly, 21, who does not wish to be identified, is a trans-female Staffordshire University graduate who is soon to go up against the system to get a GRC.
In the UK, individuals are legally recognised as the gender on their birth certificates. This can be corrected with a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), which effectively replaces a birth certificate.
“I do want one yeah, it’ll make my life a lot easier. You’re going to have to supply a birth certificate at some point,” Lily said.
A person’s legal gender affects their pensions, working rights and marriages.
Lily said: “I am not far enough along into the process to get a GRC yet.”
Applicants must meet certain criteria to gain the certificate, such as providing evidence of living as the preferred gender for two years. Then, the application must be approved by the Gender Recognition Panel. Legal and medical professionals sit on the panel.
Lily added: “I understand the need for the process, but it should be a medical system, not legal.
“While a solicitor is needed to ensure that the documentation is correct, the decision should be made by two gender specialist doctors.
“One who oversees the person in question’s progress, and one to ensure that there is no biased opinions. I believe that the panel is unnecessary.”
Local Trans Activist, Fiona Wood, agrees with Lily’s sentiment.
She said: “We do not need officials to decide, as long as the criteria has been met.”
The Gender Recognition Certificate costs £140 and with £100 + costs to change your name on deed poll, on passports and drivers licenses, it can cost a small fortune.
Lily shared her opinions on the number of issues in the documentation itself. For example, the marital status of the applicant can affect the chances of getting the GRC approved. It is required for the partner to consent to the certificate.
This could be dangerous, for example if a partner is controlling. The applicant can be affected if they are going through marital problems or a divorce.
She said: “It is an unnecessary detail and another hoop to jump through. The system needs an overhaul.”
Clearly, the Gender Recognition Act desperately requires an update to make it far more accessible and fair. Last October, Theresa May talked about reformed at the Pink News Awards, despite there being no mention of this in the Conservative manifesto.
May suggested that self-diagnosis is the way forward. This has caused a lot of controversy, with some praising the idea as many people are turned away by untrained or transphobic doctors. On the flip side, people are concerned over safety, as transitioning involves medication and for some, operations. This is a life and body altering decision.
Lily put forward an interesting idea: “Self-diagnosis will increase the number of referrals putting extra strain on an already clogged and slow system. Medical diagnosis is also simply a lot safer.”