Switching gender to become easier as ‘intrusive’ medical tests to be scrapped
The rules currently state that men wanting to be identified as female and women who want to be men must prove that they have been living as their desired gender for two years before they can change status legally.
They must also undergo medical checks. Currently, people need to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria before being allowed to legally change sex.
Campaigners say the tests, which involve seeing a panel of doctors, is embarrassing and intrusive, saying it should be a matter for individuals.
Justine Greening, the education secretary and minister for women and equalities, said the government wanted to “streamline” the process.
She told Sky News on Sunday the state needs to “stop treating people changing their gender as if it’s some medical problem that needs fixing. Actually this is a choice that people are making and we need to try and make that choice more straightforward than it already is.”
The government will launch a consultation on the Gender Recognition Bill, to be published in the autumn. The consultation will consider whether a person whose gender is “non-binary” – neither exclusively male nor female – should be able to define themselves as “X” on their birth certificates.
The proposed changes would also make it easier for gay men to give blood. Currently, gay men must wait a year after having sex before they can give blood, which would be changed to three months.
The 1.5 million LGBT people living in Britain have also been urged to inform government thinking on public services by sharing their views through a new survey.
Suzanna Hopwood, a member of the Stonewall Trans Advisory Group, said it is “vital” the reform removes the requirement for medical evidence and an intrusive interview panel.
“The current system is demeaning and broken,” she told Metro.
While many are welcoming the announcements, some campaigners are not.
Grassroots Conservatives, which is independent of the party but primarily draws its membership from its supporters, believes people who want to change their gender are suffering from mental illness, and encouraging them to do so is akin to affirming the belief of someone suffering from anorexia that they are fat.
A spokesperson, Mary Douglas, told the BBC the law is “there to protect us, normally from other people, but also sometimes from ourselves.”
She said that while she is not a doctor, she had read the work of some who believe gender dysphoria to be a mental health issue.
“If you, for example, have someone with anorexia who says ‘I am too fat’… it’s not actually respectful or loving to affirm that person in a belief that is false, that doesn’t actually tie up with reality.”
Douglas also suggested Greening’s sexuality could behind her decision to overhaul transgender policies.
On the BBC programme, host Nick Robinson said Greening had come out as gay last year, and asked Douglas whether she thought the minister’s personal experience was having an impact on government policy.
“Well, people can have lots of theories. I don’t know. I wouldn’t like to impute motives to her.”
Douglas added: “It’s a possibility. But I’m not going to suggest anything I don’t know.”