The Press

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


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