LGBT rights in review – transgender identities and the law

LGBT rights in review – transgender identities and the law

What are the main legal issues affecting transgender persons? To mark LGBT history month, Allan Briddock, barrister at 1 Pump Court and a founding member of the Trans Equality Legal Initiative takes a look at key legislation, the beginnings of Parliamentary discussion and controversy surrounding non-gender assigned bathrooms.

What are the key issues surrounding transgender issues and the law?

There are so many issues effecting trans persons that it’s difficult to know where to start and indeed not possible to cover them all in any single interview.

Despite very significant legal advancements in recent years, and a much more aware and generally sympathetic public awareness of the very existence of trans people, trans people still live in an extremely hostile environment and there is a huge amount of work to do.

One of the biggest legal issues is reform of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA 2004). GRA 2004 was enacted as a result of the 2002 European Court of Human Rights case of Christine Goodwin v UK (App no 28957/95), [2002] ECHR 588. It allowed, for the first time in the UK, full legal recognition in acquired gender and the right to change the gender assigned at birth by obtaining a gender recognition certificate (GRC). The court stated that it was no longer sustainable for trans people to live in an intermediate zone as not quite one gender or the other.

However, it is estimated that only approximately 3000 people have obtained a GRC due to objections to the procedure and ultimately the principle that ‘a panel’ (whose identity is unknown to the applicant) decides what the person’s gender is based to a great extent on medical evidence and by the person proving they have ‘gender dysphoria’. That is in direct contrast to the Equalities Act 2010 (EqA 2010) as the protected characteristic of ‘gender reassignment’ is

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