Gendered Intelligence, a community interest organisation that aims to increase understandings of gender diversity, welcome the launch of the consultation on reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, but are concerned that the scope of the reforms isn’t wide enough.
In line with progressive legislation in other countries such as Ireland and Malta, Gendered Intelligence are calling on the Government to reduce the minimum age for a person to have their gender legally recognised from 18 to 16. We are disappointed that the Government has fudged the consultation with regards to young trans people, failing to properly and transparently include a question around the age limit of gender recognition. The GEO fact sheet on Trans People states that the government has no intention of lowering the age limit to under 18.
Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Women and Equalities, has stated that the starting point for the consultation is the fact that trans women are women and that gender recognition processes should support those going through transition rather than add to their stress. This is a positive starting point, but the concerns of young trans people must also be at the heart of the consultation process.
The Government’s consultation on the Gender Recognition Act 2004 was launched by Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Women and Equalities. The consultation invites individuals and relevant organisations to share their vision for reform of the 2004 Act. Under current legislation, applicants for a Gender Recognition Certificate have to be at least 18 years of age and transitioning from one fixed, binary gender identity (‘male to female’, ‘female to male’).
Through its youth work programme, Gendered Intelligence works with over 500 young trans, gender diverse and questioning young people and their parents every year. The ability to have their legal gender recognised would allow those 16 and 17 year olds with diverse gender identities to have their gender respected at school, college and at work. Research shows that respecting trans people’s preferred pronouns and name drastically decreases depression and improves outcomes. Young trans people are currently facing an extreme level of discrimination. Research shows that more than four in five (83 per cent) trans young people have experienced name-calling or verbal abuse; three in five (60 per cent) have experienced threats and intimidation; and more than a third (35 per cent) of trans young people have experienced physical assault.
Dr. Jay Stewart MBE, CEO of Gendered Intelligence said:
“As a sixteen year old, you are able to marry, join the army and work full time, yet you cannot have your gender legally recognised. Increasing numbers of young people are transitioning, with the full support of their parents, and would fulfill the conditions of gender recognition, yet are blocked from changing the gender on their birth certificate simply because of their age. Those under 18 are at risk of discrimination and harassment in education and work because they do not have the option of their birth certificate reflecting the gender they live as. It is simply unjust to deny young people the human rights that we afford adults just because of their age.”
Cara English, Gendered Intelligence’s Policy Officer said:
“It is time for the UK to catch up with Ireland and Malta and give 16 and 17 year olds the right to have their gender recognised on their birth certificate. The UK was a thought leader on LGBTQI issues when it launched the original Gender Recognition Act, and we need that radical thinking back if we’re to make things fair and equitable now. We have a once in a generation opportunity to improve the Gender Recognition Act for all trans and non-binary people and we have to make sure that young people are not left out of the conversation. Gendered Intelligence will ensure that young people’s voices and views are included in the consultation process. Young trans people continue to experience disproportionate bullying, discrimination and poor mental health outcomes. The government needs to take action to address these inequalities. The ability to have their gender legally recognised will give young trans people safety and privacy in education and at work, and absolutely needs to be a priority for the Government”
In the coming weeks we will be sharing suggestions to help those who are taking part in the consultation to make sure the experiences and needs of young trans people are reflected in their submissions.