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The Government wants people to be able to choose their sex legally under a reform of gender identity rules designed to reduce stigma faced by people in the transgender community.
The plans currently under consideration could mean adults will be able to change their birth certificates without a doctor’s diagnosis, while non-binary gender people will be able to record their gender as ‘X’.
At the moment those wanting to legally change their gender have to provide evidence that they have been in transition for at least two years. But a consultation on changing the Gender Recognition Act, to be published in the Autumn, will propose scrapping the requirement that people get a formal medical diagnosis of “gender dysphoria” before applying to switch gender.
The reforms were recommended by Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee last year, which said that they were key to trans people being “treated equally and fairly”.
The news comes after Prime Minister Theresa May hinted she was preparing to reform the Gender Recognition Act, claiming that: “when it comes to rights and protections for trans people, there is still a long way to go”.
And last week Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn called for changes to the law claiming that the current arrangements were “wrong” and people should be allowed to self-identify.
Speaking of the proposed reforms Equalities minister Justine Greening said: “This Government is committed to building an inclusive society that works for everyone, no matter what their gender or sexuality, and today we’re taking the next step forward.”
“We will build on the significant progress we have made over the last 50 years, tackling some of the historic prejudices that still persist in our laws and giving LGBT people a real say on the issues affecting them.”
The potential changes were also welcomed by Suzanna Hopwood, a member of the Stonewall Trans Advisory Group. “It’s vital that this reform removes the requirements for medical evidence and an intrusive interview panel, and finally allows all trans people to have their gender legally recognised through a simple administrative process,” she told Independent.
But there was some criticism of the new reforms by some who warned it could lead to legal cases of access to women-only hospital wards, prisons and rape crisis centres.
Stephanie Davies-Arai of Transgender Trend, a parents’ group, told the Sunday Times: “This has huge implications for women. There will be legal cases. The most worrying thing is if any man can identify as a woman with no tests and gain access to spaces where women might be getting undressed or feel vulnerable — like women’s hospital wards, refuges and rape crisis centres — women will just stop going to these facilities.”
The proposed reforms come after an eight-month old baby was thought to have become the first person in the world to have their gender marked as ‘unknown’ on their health card.
Searyl Atli’s gender was marked with a ‘U’ on her Canadian health card, which stands for ‘undermined’ or ‘unassigned.’
The baby’s parent, Kori Doty, does not identify as male or female herself and wants to raise Searyl genderless until the baby has a “sense of self and command of vocabulary to tell me who they are.”
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