What’s the problem?
In order to change the gender on their birth certificate, the Gender Recognition Act 2004 requires a person to submit a highly detailed psychiatric report confirming they have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, how that diagnosis was determined and any treatment they have received. This intrusive and humiliating requirement violates trans people’s right to privacy and self-determination and adds to the stigma that they already face.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) medical professionals who created the international standards of care for approving trans people’s access to hormones and surgeries, agree that this diagnosis requirement should be removed from legal gender recognition processes:
“No particular medical, surgical, or mental health treatment or diagnosis is an adequate marker for anyone’s gender identity, so these should not be requirements for legal gender change.”
In 2015, Resolution 2048 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe expressed concerns that requiring someone seeking legal recognition of their acquired gender to have been medically treated or diagnosed is a breach of their right to respect for their private life under Article 8 of the ECHR. The resolution calls on all Member States to:
“develop quick, transparent and accessible procedures, based on selfdetermination, for changing the name and registered sex of transgender people on birth certificates, identity cards … and other similar documents”.
What are we asking for?
New legislation to introduce a straightforward administrative gender recognition process that is in line with international human rights standards and reflects European best practice. The psychiatric diagnosis requirement should be scrapped in favour of a self-declaration process which respects the autonomy of the individual applying.
“Nobody but me can confirm my gender identity. It is terribly insulting to have to get the permission of a psychiatrist in order to get my birth certificate changed.”
What’s international best practice?
There are an increasing number of countries that are allowing trans people to have their gender legally recognised based on a simple process of self-declaration. Although the Gender Recognition Act 2004 was world-leading at the time it was passed, it is now far behind international best practice.
Denmark, Ireland, Malta and Norway are among the various countries that allow people to change their legal gender simply by completing a self-declaration application form.