Saturday, 31 October 2015

On gender recognition

"It's perfectly legal to be gay, but only if we put you on this secret government list of gay people".

    If I ever need to explain UK gender recognition certificates to a Muggle, that's how I do it. There is usually a shocked moment of incomprehension, then the penny drops that something they considered to be a perfectly reasonable identification requirement is in fact a bit sinister, not to mention rather unnecessary. I don't think there's a gay person alive who'd be happy to be put on a government-held secret list of gay people, and when put in those terms it becomes rather unreasonable to expect the same of a transgender person.
    They're funny things, gender recognition certificates. You have to jump through a lot of hoops to get the evidence for one, pay a rather steep fee, then convince a panel of cis people that you're trans enough to require one. All for a bit of paper that it's a criminal offence for someone to ask to see, the right to a reprint of your birth certificate with your correct gender on it, and your name on that secret government list of transgender people. And the idea was that it also put you in the right jail if you commit a crime, though that last point's taken a bit of a battering this week. The trans woman without one who was sent to a men's jail came out for her appeal and then went straight back to a women's jail. Yes, the subject of my last post didn't get let off on appeal, common sense prevailed, and she's back on her diet of porridge. Girl porridge.
    So we're left with a new birth certificate as the main prize. And if that's one which some people among our community consider to be a big one, then good for them. I just can't say I'm one of them.
    What gender recognition certificates really do has very little to do with us. They exist as just one more Thing To Appease the Panicking Cis People Who Can't Handle the Idea of Trans People. If we bend over backwards to appease them, we're rewarded with a dog biscuit, oops, I mean shiny bit of paper. 

    Sorry, I'm all done with sit-up-and-beg tail-wagging, I want to get on with my life.

    Funnily enough, there exists a fabled land in which gender recognition is as simple as deciding how you want to be recognised. No panels, no secret government lists.
    Where is this place? The Irish Republic, a short ferry ride to the west. Has the world stopped turning on the Emerald Isle since they passed this enlightened law? Have cats married dogs? Hardly. Instead they're just getting on with their lives, just like we should be.

    Wish it could happen here in the UK? You could always petition the Government about it...


  1. When they gave me my hormones, I smiled. When they gave me my new driving licence and passport, I laughed. When they gave me my gender recognition certificate, I sang. And when they gave me my new birth certificate, I fell on my knees and rendered thanks to heaven with tears of joy streaming down my face...

    I dare say that quite a few people do in fact see the pill and paper trail as steps upward to a kind of nirvana! (And I left out surgery, didn't I, silly me) I did in fact feel rather emotional about completing each stage, the GRC process feeling particularly like a stiff test, although (me being me) I had (of course) built up enough 'evidence' to sink a battleship. The worst moment was facing the local majestrates in their very formal court, to make the preliminary statutory declaration of my future life intentions.

    The GRC is like a secret licence to be trans. I don't think it would cut much ice if waved before the eyes of some bigot. The birth certificate is however a different matter. It can't be laughed off or dismissed. It's a clincher in any dispute. So I wouldn't put it down.


    1. I'm not saying that a correct birth certificate wouldn't be nice, just that the hoops needed to get one (along with the stiff fee) are not worth it. I am not divorcing my wife purely to get it. I also don't see that this is a test that anyone should be forced to take.

      The total and complete evidence that should be required is: have you transitioned. Assuming that the psychologists and psychiatrists are there to ensure that you do not do something you will severely regret in years to come and are not acting like gate keepers (I had the pleasure of dealing with the former, I have heard of other people dealing with the later) then the fact that these people are satisfied that you are in doing the right thing is as much 'evidence' as you should need to collect.


      (Thankfully living abroad and never planning to return to the UK except to visit relatives it's something I can file under: niet van toepassing)

    2. I live abroad and don't come back too often, but it would be nice to be able to go to the US. Last I heard the TSA had access to the UK birth certificate database and could keep you out if you don't match up.
      Or has this now changed ?