The Gender Recognition Act of 2004 (GRA) provides a mechanism and process that allow trans people to change their legal gender; as such, it is a significant piece of legislation for the transgender community.
The compliance elements are pretty straightforward; the applicant must:
- Have been living permanently in their preferred gender role for at least 2 years, and
- Have been under medical supervision and assessed as having gender dysphoria, now or in the past, and
- Be currently unmarried, and
- Be able to declare that they intend to live permanently in their new gender role for the remainder of their life
Naith Payton, a writer and blogger who is himself trans, acknowledges the GRA’s landmark status, but in a post on PinkNews says it has its limitations, including:
- The Act only affords rights to those age 18 and older, ignoring the large community of gender-diverse young people;
- Intersex people can’t change their legal gender without pretending to be transgender;
- It does not accommodate non-gendered people, as it doesn’t allow for a legal change to a gender that is neither male nor female. Non-gendered people have to decide between keeping their birth-assigned gendered and changing to the other gender.
- While the compliance elements aren’t arduous, the application process is—as shown on a page of the gov.uk website.
Naith Payton says, “Countries that are only just beginning to allow gender recognition, such as Ireland and Norway, have far more progressive legislation than Britain. In some countries, all the process requires is a signed declaration of intent. Where the UK was once leading the way we are now being left behind.”