In Brief

Changing legal gender: what’s new and how does it work?

Cost of a gender recognition certificate application is reduced from £140 to £5

The cost of legally changing gender is being cut from £140 to £5, but campaigners have urged the government to go further with changes to the process.

The move makes good on a commitment from the government, announced last year, to reduce the cost of a gender recognition certificate (GRC) application to a nominal amount.

“We want transgender people to be free to live and to prosper in modern Britain,” said Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss in a statement on the government’s website this week. “I am proud that we have made the process of getting a certificate fairer, simpler and much more affordable.”

Although reducing the GRC fee was welcomed by LGBTQ+ campaigners, many have criticised Truss for not going far enough. Cutting the cost is “a positive step”, writes Emma Powys Maurice for Pink News, but it “comes as little comfort after Truss scrapped any plans for meaningful reform” to an “intrusive, intimidating, and undignified” process. 

Last September, the government published a long-awaited response to its consultation regarding the 2004 Gender Recognition Act. To the disappointment of many activists and people in the LGBTQ+ community, ministers rejected calls for people to be able to change their gender on their birth certificate without a medical diagnosis. They also upheld the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria in order for a trans person to obtain a GRC. 

Truss did pledge to move the application process online, but the details of this are yet to be confirmed.

As of December 2020, 5,871 full GRCs have been granted since 2005 – a small proportion of the UK’s transgender population which the government estimates to be between 200,000 and 500,000, says the BBC.

The standard route for a GRC application requires a transgender person to be at least 18 years old, diagnosed with gender dysphoria, to live in their acquired gender for a minimum of two years and to intend to live in their acquired gender for the rest of their life.

Campaigners have also called for non-binary people to have the opportunity to have their gender legally recognised, as well as for those under 18 to be able to apply for a GRC. The law “seriously needs updating to enable trans and non-binary people to have their true gender legally recognised in a simpler, less dehumanising way”, writes Paisley Gilmour for Cosmopolitan

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