As of this month, Gender Recognition Certificates no longer cost a whopping £140, instead, they merely cost £5. The change has been made in order to make applying for a GRC “simpler and much more affordable”.
This follows ministers’ decisions against changes to the Gender Recognition Act of 2004 that would have allowed people to change their gender without a medical diagnosis. LGBT communities resented this decision. LGBT charity Stonewall called the decision “a shocking failure in leadership”.
The reduction of the GRC fee is part of a subsequent compromise put forward by Women and Equalities minister, Liz Truss. The aim of the compromise is to make the application process “kinder and more straightforward”. When announcing the reduction, she went on to say that “we want transgender people to be free to live and to prosper in modern Britain”.
The fee reduction is a significant step, with 34% of trans people being held back by the previously hefty fee. The application will also be moved online so that it is more accessible for people.
What is a Gender Recognition Certificate?
A Gender Recognition Certificate is necessary for someone to legally change their gender. These are essential documents for anyone who identifies as transgender, as having the incorrect gender on legal documents can be a real hindrance to their livelihoods, as well as a great cause of dysphoria.
For those who are trans, and have started to transition, that have their birth gender on their documents, they are forced to come out to employers and important people in their life without it being on their own terms.
Since the Gender Recognition Act came into play in 2005, a total of 5,781 certificates have been issued. However, under the current Gender Recognition Act, trans people have to undergo a 2-year waiting period, a review by a specialist panel, 2 medical reports, and then pay the fee before they’re allowed to change their gender legally.
Campaigners have long worked to replace this system with a simpler statutory declaration and self-identification, and the reduction of the fee is a “small step in the right direction”, but it will still be a barrier. Eloise Stonborough, associate director of policy and research with Stonewall, said that the government needs to “set out a clear timeline of further changes to streamline the application process”.
Lee Clatworthy, of Sparkle, a transgender charity, said that despite these small reforms, the process is still “overly long-winded” and that the reduction in cost is not enough.
Likewise, Nancy Kelley, CEO of Stonewall, said that these compromises were not enough, and not substitutes for “meaningful reform”.
What would reform look like?
Campaigners and LGBT communities want the process to be a lot simpler, free, and available to anyone. Rather than wait for 2 years, undergo a series of often humiliating panels and medical exams, people should be able to apply and receive a GRC with less, if not no, intervention.
LGBT communities are also campaigning to have non-binary listed as an official gender so that those who feel neither male nor female can also have their legal documents match. This would be a huge step for trans rights and would allow agender, genderfluid, and other nonbinary identities to cure a source of dysphoria.
How do you apply for a GRC?
There are 3 routes you can take to get a Gender Recognition Certificate. The one you choose depends on your situation.
If you are 18 or over, have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria (gender identity disorder, gender incongruence or transsexualism), have lived in your acquired gender for at least 2 years, and intend to live so for the rest of your life, then this route is for you.
To apply, send Form T450 with your fee and any supporting documents to the Gender Recognition Panel in Leicester.
For those who are 18 or over, have been diagnosed with dysphoria or had surgery to change their sexual characteristics, have been (or are) in a marriage or civil partnership prior to 2014, and have lived in your acquired gender for 6 years before 2014, this route is for them.
To apply, send Form T464 with your fee and any supporting documents to the Gender Recognition Panel in Leicester.
Apply for the Overseas Route if your acquired gender has been legally accepted in an approved country or territory and you have documents to prove it.
To apply, send Form T453 with your fee and any supporting documents to the Gender Recognition Panel in Leicester.