Sir Keir Starmer recently said that “16 is too young to change gender” but I would ask him when he knew he was a boy? Whenever I have asked this question to anyone, the reply I usually get is “I’ve always known.” As trans people, we are no different in that regard. I felt I was female ever since my earliest memories, aged around 3 or 4, but I fought against it for 48 years, due to the pressure that society put on me, so I tried to conform to be the man that I thought society wanted me to be. It was futile though, as my Gender Dysphoria turned my life upside down until I finally admitted to myself that I am a woman and that I need to change my body in order to bring it into alignment with my gender. Many trans people will have stronger Gender Dysphoria from an earlier age and they are able to recognise their true gender much younger than I was able to. You see, it’s not “changing gender” as my gender has always been female – even if it took me until the later half of my life to admit it to myself. The sex label that was given to me at birth (based purely on the appearance of my genitalia at the time), was just that – a label. Sadly, the label on my birth certificate said “boy”.
The UK Government has risked the break-up of the UK, as it has allowed its bigotry and hatred of trans people to get the better of it by blocking the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform bill. It has tried to justify this by pumping out a constant stream of misinformation about scope of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004, which is then amplified by the (mostly) trans hostile UK media. We are hearing so many people getting wound up about access to gender-appropriate spaces and 16-year olds having gender confirmation surgery etc, but that’s all just fear-mongering and sadly, Keir Starmer has fallen for all this anti-trans propaganda.
So firstly, let’s just look at what the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) bill is not about… It’s NOT about access to gender-appropriate spaces. It’s NOT about hormone therapy. It’s NOT about hormone blockers. It’s NOT about surgery. It has absolutely nothing to do with anything medical and it gives absolutely no access to anywhere. After all, when did you last have to show your birth certificate when you wanted to use a public loo? Prison places are currently allocated based on individual risk assessments too (although that’s about to change to being more genitalia-dependent) and having a Gender Recognition Certificate has no bearing on the decision on which estate a trans prisoner is placed.
So what is it about? The GRR (which reforms the GRA 2004) is about changing the criteria for the granting of a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), which is purely about changing one word on a piece of paper. It changes the sex marker on one’s birth certificate to bring it into alignment with one’s gender. That’s all. We rarely need our birth certificates as it’s not a valid form of ID anyway. Most trans people don’t bother getting a GRC, as we can all obtain a new passport, driving licence and NHS medical record showing our true gender, without having to have a GRC first. These are the things that we use regularly.
Why bother then? Well, there are some benefits of bringing the sex marker on one’s birth certificate into alignment with one’s gender… It allows trans people to get married in our true gender and it also gives us dignity in death, by recording a sex marker on our death certificate that is in alignment with our gender. It used to have an effect on our retirement age, but all genders have the same state retirement age now anyway, so that is irrelevant now.
On the face of it, there is not a huge benefit from lowering the age from 18 to 16 as the minimum age for being able to correct our birth certificates. However, there is one area where it is hugely important and that is when the young person starts work, as they have to tell their employer what sex is shown for them on their birth certificate as this is a requirement for the Department of Work and Pensions. For me, that wouldn’t be an issue, as I couldn’t be more out if I tried. However, most trans people prefer others to not know they are transgender, as it’s highly personal information and it’s frankly, no-one else’s business. We call this being “in stealth mode” in the trans world! If a 16 or 17-year-old trans person is unable to to change the sex marker on their birth certificate, they are forced to out themselves as being trans to their employer, which could then lead to bullying, discrimination or even loss of employment. No parent would want their 16 or 17-year-old child to be put at risk of such harm when they start out in the world of work, so for this reason alone, I feel 16 is an appropriate age to allow people to correct their birth certificate.
I understand why some people have concerns about this bill, when they have been exposed to so much misinformation about it, but I urge everyone to take the heat out of it and to look at the facts. The only person affected by changing one word on a birth certificate is the holder of that birth certificate. No-one else. I would have more respect for Sir Keir if he actually stood up for trans people while we are getting such a kicking by being this Government’s political football of choice, rather than pandering to Concerned of Canterbury and Misinformed of Maidenhead in order to get the keys to Number 10 at the next election. The NHS considers 16 to be an age when people are old enough to be able to make decisions about their own healthcare, but this bill is not even about healthcare. It’s just about changing one word on a piece of paper. No-one who is not trans would apply for a GRC for fun and there would be no benefit to them doing so anyway, so I feel 16 is an appropriate age for trans people to be able to change one word on their birth certificate.
For more detailed information about the Gender Recognition Reform bill, please CLICK HERE to read a superb article by Paul at TransLucent entitled “GRA Reform – The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.