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Why is the GRA so important to transgender people?

“I was both loved and hated for being upfront. But I was just being myself.”


 

If you have been online over these last few months you would have seen an awful lot of conversation regarding the GRA (Gender recognition act). The Gender Recognition act is a way for someone to get a Gender Recognition certificate – which allows a transgender individual to be legally recognised as the gender they truly are.

You have to pay £140 for this process, you have to provide proof that you’ve lived as your acquired gender which is 2 years, you also need to provide a report of details that include any details of any treatment you have received regarding the gender dysphoria diagnosis (for example hormones or surgery). Once you have sent all of your details off this random panel of individuals get together and see if you are eligible for the Gender recognition certificate – They don’t meet you, they know you as a name, a past – they can’t put a name to a face, they can’t meet you and understand what you have been through and they don’t understand your everyday struggles and needs.

The current process under the Gender recognition act means that trans individuals have to go through a series of intrusive medical assessments and demeaning interviews with psychiatrists to prove their identity – which shouldn’t be the case. I have heard horror stories of trans individuals who have been told that they don’t have gender dysphoria because they “act too feminine” or because they aren’t following their tick boxes.

Each and every trans person is different, some trans individuals may not be able to go onto hormones or have surgery due to medical reasons, some trans individuals may only want top surgery or someone may only want hormones. Each and every trans individual is going through their own journeys and struggles and they don’t need the pressure of having to fit a criteria on top.

Over these last few years transgender individuals have highlighted that the system is flawed, it is an issue and it needs to be changed. This summer the UK government announced that they we’re going to do a consultation on the Gender recognition act. You can find the consultation here. It is important to fill this short consultation in, it takes 10 minutes roughly and if you need any help please ask someone, or message myself and I can give you as much advice and help as I can!

As a transgender person, I have to out myself on a regular basis. When I applied for university I sent them my birth certificate, my name change and they questioned why I applied for university as a “Male” when it doesn’t show that on my birth certificate. When I have applied for jobs I have to show my birth certificate, which outs myself to a new job. When I apply for voluntary roles I have to disclose all of my “old names” which automatically tells them that I’m trans. Transgender people face this on a daily basis, not only is it sometimes humiliating but it can also put a persons life, or safety at risk.

The gender recognition doesn’t include non-binary individuals, so the new gender recognition act is going to allow non-binary individuals to self certify and live freely as a non-binary individual. Lastly the new GRA reform will give all trans people, including those who are 16 & 17 the right to self determination through a much simpler process.

I can’t afford to pay for a gender recognition certificate and it also gives me shivers when I imagine a group of individuals try to sum me together through a few pieces of paper without meeting me. This shouldn’t happen, the current GRA system is outdated so it’s time that we stand up and allow these amazing changes to happen.

If I died today I would die female, which isn’t okay. This is never okay, but this happens on a daily basis. There are thousands of transgender people in the UK and we deserve some basic human rights. We deserve to be ourselves, be deserve to be safe and we deserve to be seen as who we are! I don’t want to die female, I don’t want to be known as female anymore – so having the gender recognition act allows not only myself, but other transgender people live their lives in freedom and security.

We all self identify. We self identify our religions, we self identify our sexuality’s and we self identify our backgrounds. If I were to tell everybody that I was catholic, nobody would bat an eyelid, they wouldn’t have me fill in forms, have psychiatric tests and then have a panel decide if I am really catholic or if i’m not. Trans people aren’t allowed to self identify under the current gender recognition act, so we are campaigning for a change in that.


There are some key issues that we need to address with the GRA & basic trans rights.

If you haven’t seen recently – there has been a lot of transphobia in the news recently regarding transgender people. An awful lot of people are confusing the gender recognition act 2004 with the equality’s act 2010.

The 2010 equality’s act has already allowed trans people to use facilities of their own declared gender, regardless of whats on their birth certificate. Which means, that transgender people have actually been using public toilets, public changing rooms and public areas for the last 8 years – and its only just becoming an issue.

On Wednesday the Metro allowed the group Fair Play To Women have a whole page in their paper which was clear transphobia. It was hurtful, it was hateful and it was dangerous. It shows that all transgender individuals are only transgender because they have a motive to hurt people, hurt women and hurt children. There isn’t a magic rule that stops potentially hurtful people going into women only spaces.

When I first came out I had women walk up to me asking if I was a “Tranny or not”, I once had a woman walk up to me on the bus and ask me if I was a “boy or a girl” as her and her daughter were arguing about it on the bus. I shouldn’t have to face that. I shouldn’t have to go through that. I have had transphobic abuse of women, I have been threatened by women and I have been told that I don’t deserve anything by women. All I am trying to do it live my life, I don’t do anything wrong, I work hard, I pay my taxes, I pee in male toilets, I occasionally support my female friend in the female toilets when shes very drunk but that doesn’t mean I’m a predator, or i’m going to hurt anybody.

I’m very angry that the metro allowed a transphobic group to post such a transphobic attack on trans women. The media is very fixated on transgender individuals, transgender women mostly. The media likes to see us as these bad guys, the media likes to scaremonger society which then puts our lives, and safety at risk. You can’t highlight who is, and who isn’t transgender which can make this sort of article very dangerous and someone may get attacked, or be a victim of a hate crime when it doesn’t include them.

My little sister is 7 years old. A few months ago she stood on stage at a pride event in front of 750 people and said she was the biggest supported for trans people. Shes 7, she doesn’t understand it completely. All she knows is that I’m her brother and I’m campaigning for a better future. If my seven year old sister can understand the struggles that transgender individuals go through – then everybody should. Our children are future leaders – I know that!


If you haven’t  responded to the consultation please do it. We need support from members of the LGBT+ community and Allies! Please click here to respond!

 

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