UK Govt promotes right to choose own sex
BRITAIN: British dults will be able to change their gender legally without a doctor’s diagnosis under government plans that will transform British society.
Men will be able to identify themselves as women - and women as men - and have their birth certificates altered to record their new gender.
Ministers plan to tear up the existing rules which mean that people have to live for two years as their desired gender before they can officially change sex.
A consultation on the Gender Recognition Bill, to be published in the autumn, will also include proposals to scrap the requirement that people get a formal medical diagnosis of ‘‘gender dysphoria’’ before applying to switch gender.
Critics warned that allowing people to effectively ‘‘self-identify’’ as a member of the opposite sex, while maintaining the anatomy of their birth gender, would unleash a firestorm of legal cases over access to women-only hospital wards, prisons, lavatories, changing rooms and competitive sports.
Justine Greening, the UK minister for women and equalities, called the move to give more rights to transgender people the third great ‘‘step forward’’ after equality for women and the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2013.
The announcement is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967. Greening said ministers want to ‘‘streamline and demedicalise’’ gender change to make it easier for people to switch their identity legally.
In future people are expected to be required only to make a statutory declaration that they intend to live in the acquired gender until death - in line with arrangements already adopted in Ireland.
The consultation will address whether those whose gender is ‘‘non-binary’’ should also be able to define themselves as ‘‘X’’ on their birth certificates.
A separate consultation in Scotland will go further than England and Wales by recommending that ‘‘non-binary’’ people should be able to define themselves as ‘‘X’’ on passports as well. It will also propose a reduction in the age at which people can change their gender from 18 to 16.
The plans will be highly controversial. Prominent feminists including Germaine Greer and Jenni Murray, the presenter of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, have questioned whether men can become women even if they undergo a sex-change operation.
Stephanie Davies-Arai of Transgender Trend, a group of parents concerned about the growing diagnosis of children as transgender, said: ‘‘This has huge implications for women. There will be legal cases.
‘‘The most worrying thing is if any man can identify as a woman with no tests and gain access to spaces where women might be getting undressed or where they feel vulnerable - like women’s hospital wards, refuges and rape crisis centres - then women will just stop going to these facilities.’’
Self-identifying was recommended by a parliamentary committee last year. It has the backing of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. - Sunday Times