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Trans Woman Theresa Davis Shares Her Experiences Getting a Gender Recognition Certificate

Getting a Gender Recognition Certificate was never going to be easy. Despite knowing she was trans as a child, Theresa Davis didn’t come out as trans until 1998, when she was 27. At the time of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) judgment on gender recognition c in 2004, Theresa was working as a journalist.


By the time the act was passed in 2004 I had already been out for about six years. I was working for the Daily Telegraph at that time and had in fact written a column about the ECHR judgment when it happened.


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The uncertainty and “legal limbo” of not having her gender officially recognized prompted Theresa to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate. Theresa’s partner also decided to apply at the same time.

Theresa explains the process, “The process for obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate requires you to submit a bundle of evidence to the GRC Panel. This evidence consists of proof of name change, such as utility bills, bank statements, etc, and proof of living in your identified gender for at least a two-year period. You also need a sworn statutory declaration made in front of a solicitor, which states that your gender change is permanent and two medical reports confirming the diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria.”

Theresa just missed the fast-track process that had existed in the first six months with Gender Recognition Certificates. “I was part of the early group of applicants in 2005, there was a cutoff date and if I had transitioned a few weeks earlier then I would have been able to skip collecting all the evidence.”

Luckily my partner was fastidious at keeping bills and statements so I had plenty of documents. Before I met my partner I had moved around a lot and didn’t have utility bills or such-like so it would have been hard to demonstrate that I was living as myself for that period.

Theresa was under the care of Dr Reid during her transition. He provided her with the report she required for the gender recognition certificate application. Theresa describes being made to ask for a second diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria as an “unpleasant experience.” Theresa also included a sworn affidavit from Dr Seghers in Belgium, who had performed her surgery.

“It took a lot of organisation to collate all the data needed and I had files all over my desk at home for a while, as I was gathering everything together. The guidance isn’t great as to exactly what is required, so I sent as much as I could.”


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Theresa sent off all her evidence along with the payment. “After receiving confirmation that it had been received and was being assessed I thought it would just be a formality and the GRC was on its way. So imagine my shock when it was rejected.”

Theresa was told her application had been rejected because the surgeon in Brussels had just written “sex reassignment surgery”, and hadn’t detailed the exact procedures.

“I then had to scrabble around to get a medical report completed, detailing the procedures that I’d had done over the years. Luckily our GP was sympathetic as my partner and I had provided Q&A sessions on trans issues to trainee GP’s that she taught in the surgery, so we were able to obtain the reports easily – but I am well aware that others are not so lucky.”

“In total between the two of us, it cost approximately £1000. The process overall was cumbersome and the thing of not actually knowing who the panel is, means that you are putting yourself forward to be judged with no recourse or discussion.”

After Theresa sent off the information detailing all the procedures she had she was finally granted her Gender Recognition Certificate.

Theresa would like to see a streamlining of the process. “It should not require medical reports or years of proof. I’d like to see a simple process, like many countries have, where a legal declaration is made by the person and that is it. It should be as simple as it is to change a passport or driving license.”


Comment from GenderGP

We understand that this process is cumbersome and needs revolutionising, we have been campaigning hard for change in this regard. To find out more about our work in this area please read the following articles: Do recent reforms of the GRA go far enough? and Meaningful GRA Reforms Can Bring About Equality for Trans Individuals

In the meantime, while we wait for meaningful change to come into effect, you can obtain a letter of recommendation from us. To get a gender marker change letter or report for a Gender Recognition Certificate visit our information page.