Ding dong, GRA reform in England is dead

The Westminster government has finally published its response to the public consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act. The short version: it’s going to be slightly cheaper to get a GRC and some of the forms will go online. There are no significant changes otherwise.

This is for England and Wales; officially at least GRA reform is still possible in Scotland, so there will be no let-up in the hate campaigns against trans people. I suspect things will get even worse as they attempt to pressure the Scottish Government to follow the English example.

It’s interesting to note that despite the supposed “swamping” of the consultation by trans “activists”, just 7,000 of the 102,800 responses – responses that were overwhelmingly in favour of reform by a much bigger margin than, say, the Brexit vote – were from trans people. Nearly 19,000 responses were one-click template-based submissions from a single anti-trans group. As ever, the discussion was primarily about us, without us.

As you’d expect from a Government minister, there are some dodgy claims in Liz Truss’s statement.

We have also come to understand that gender recognition reform, though supported in the consultation undertaken by the last government, is not the top priority for transgender people.

Just because the government treats trans people even more hellishly in other parts of the system doesn’t mean legal gender recognition doesn’t need reformed.

Thirty-eight per cent told us the process was too bureaucratic. So we will place the whole procedure online.

Being able to upload deeply personal reports instead of posting them doesn’t make the process any less bureaucratic and it certainly doesn’t make it any less humiliating. The gatekeeping, the requirement to have medical reports and the paperwork you must provide to a faraway panel haven’t changed. Even the BMA says doctors shouldn’t be involved in this process.

Trans people tell us that waiting lists at NHS gender clinics are too long. I agree, and I am deeply concerned at the distress it can cause. That is why we are opening at least three new gender clinics this year, which should see waiting lists cut by around 1,600 patients by 2022.

This is nothing to do with the GRA consultation and Truss is claiming credit for decisions made by NHS England several years ago.

It’s a sad state of affairs when “we’ll make the process slightly cheaper” counts as a victory. But ultimately nothing has changed but the price tag. There’s no change to the Equality Act or its guidance, and the role of a GRC has not been changed (it’s still irrelevant to what spaces we can access or where we can urinate). It’s not going to be any easier to get a GRC than it has been for the last sixteen years, so all of the antis’ “reasonable concerns” have been addressed. They can finally pack up and go home. Right?

Maybe I’m cynical. Maybe now that the UK government has decided not to change anything, the groups created solely to fight against GRA reform will close their campaigns, disband their organisations and take the hundreds of thousands of pounds they’ve crowdfunded from dodgy donors and give that cash to organisations that help vulnerable women.


Or maybe, just maybe, GRA reform was only ever a fig leaf for their real motives.