Gender Recognition Act Reform

What is the Gender Recognition Act?

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) allows trans people to apply for legal recognition of the gender in which they live. However, the process for changing the legal gender on a person’s birth certificate is expensive, intrusive and time- consuming. It requires trans people to provide extensive medical evidence about their bodies despite the 2004 Act making no requirement to undergo hormonal or surgical treatments.

In July 2017 the UK Government announced that they would conduct a review of the GRA, with the aim of making the process much more straightforward, less reliant on medical examinations, and removing a lot of the red tape that stops many trans people feeling able to get the legal recognition they deserve. This culminated in a public consultation run by the government from July to October 2018.

The consultation was not about whether or not trans people should be able to legally change their gender. The consultation was not about whether or not trans people should be able to use single sex services, such as women’s refuges and rape crisis centres. Trans people’s right to use single sex services is already protected by the Equality Act 2010.

Why does the GRA need to be reformed?

The GRA was a ground-breaking piece of legislation when first introduced which has provided some trans people with the fundamental right for their gender identity to be recognised in the eyes of the law. However, the act is now outdated and in urgent need of reform to ensure that it is fully accessible and delivers on the promises made to trans communities in 2004. The government estimates that just 12% of trans people have a gender recognition certificate, despite 92% stating in the National LGBT Survey (2018) that they would be interested in getting one. GRA reform is a key step in addressing the marginalisation of trans and non-binary communities, by allowing them to more easily gain legal recognition of their gender identity.

Trans and non-binary people face a number of significant inequalities, and the current GRA process creates unnecessary barriers preventing many trans and non-binary people from achieving recognition in the eyes of the law. The government has made commitments to ‘streamline and demedicalise’ the gender recognition process, a promise that was welcomed by trans and non-binary people across the country. We want to see this reflected in the new legislation.

What reforms need to be made?

LGBT Foundation, along with LGBT organisations across the country are calling for the following reforms:

1. Self-declaration

Trans people should be able to legally change their gender through a simple administrative process in line with international human rights guidance and best practice.

We should get rid of the requirement to provide a psychiatric report or proof of diagnosis.

The process should focus on trans people’s human right to decide their gender for themselves and protect all trans and non-binary people’s rights to private and to family life.

2. Non-binary inclusion

Non-binary people should be able to legally change their gender to reflect who they are. The new process should include the option for non-binary people to amend their birth certificate and have their gender legally recognised just as other trans people are able to.

3. Inclusion for trans young people

Trans young people who are 16 and older should be able to have their gender legally recognised. This should be done through the same simple administrative process that we recommend introducing for all trans people.

Trans young people under the age of 16 should be able to have their gender legally recognised with the consent of their parents or legal guardians. This process should uphold the right to privacy and to family life for trans young people and their families.

In addition to these, we would also like to see the removal of the spousal veto, which if it was to remain as part of the reformed legislation takes the decision making power out of the hands of trans people and puts into the hands of people who may not have their best interests at heart.

How can I get involved?

We are committed to putting trans and non-binary people’s voices front and centre in this highly important issue. We will also encouraged allies of trans and non-binary communities to show their support for reforms. It’s important now more than ever that our communities stands together to send a strong and clear message to the government that we want GRA reform now.

You can share messages on social media using #GRAreformNOW to tell your elected representatives why reform needs to happen and specifically what those reforms need to be. If you're near our Community Centre in Manchester, drop-in to the building and take a photo with our GRA REFORM NOW board.

You can also write to your MP asking them to speak up for trans and non-binary equality using Stonewall’s easy-to-use template here.

Get in touch with us to tell us why GRA reform is so important to you at