Why do you care?


Following up with the previous post on changes to the United Kingdom’s process for Gender Recognition Certificates, Ezra describes one part of the application which boils my blood–submitting personal details in front of a panel of disinterested bureaucrats to decide if you’re real enough for legal recognition:

“I can’t do it,” she said, line crackling slightly. I could still hear her voice break. “It’s too horrible.”

This is the only conversation I had with my wife before our wedding in which she cried, despite the thousands of stressors and disagreements over tiny things like flower arrangements and bridesmaid dresses. And it is still, to this date nearly 5 years on, the only conversation we’ve ever had about her attempt to get a Gender Recognition Certificate.

All she wanted was for our marriage to be considered a gay marriage, not a straight one. By this point she’d been living as a woman for 3 years, and was on HRT. She had a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and a doctor’s letter to the same effect. Her passport, driving license and medical records all indicated that she was a woman. If it weren’t for the marriage certificate, there would be nothing that described her as the wrong thing, that made reference to the fact that her body had not always matched her overtly feminine, defiantly woman self.

As far as the legal requirements went, she was a perfect candidate for a GRC. But there was much beyond the legal requirements that no one had ever talked about. Justifying whether or not you’d had surgery, when you planned to have surgery, why on earth you hadn’t had it yet if you thought you deserved to be recognised as a “real” woman. What kind of sex you have. Is it with women? Is it penetrative? Because of course, that would rule you out, if you were using your genitalia in a way that the government didn’t think coincided with your gender identity. How long have you lived as a woman? Can you prove it? Where’s your evidence? No evidence, no GRC. Can you provide two (expensive) detailed reports, from two separate clinicians? Stop right there if you can’t. Go no further. Provide a “statutory declaration”. Get it witnessed by someone with a “reputable” profession. Outline every discomfort you’ve ever had about your gender. Tell us when you first bought knickers. Why didn’t you change your gender on your passport right there and then? Why did you wait until you were in your twenties to transition? Are you married? Then we need a declaration from your spouse too. Just to make sure your stories match up. On bad terms with your spouse about your gender? Estranged from them? Too bad. They have a veto on this. You can’t just enter them into a marriage to someone of a different gender. If you’re divorced, we want definitive proof of that divorce. Just to make sure you aren’t dragging an innocent ex into this. Oh, and pay us £140 for the privilege of being able to have your documents provide your correct information. Thanks.

The current process for British trans folk is labyrinthine and dehumanizing. There are already consequences for lying during a statutory declaration, so they really have no excuse to keep dancing around self-declaration as the system they should be using.

-Shiv

Comments

  1. anat says

    OK, I find the legal situation in Britain beyond normal levels of confusing. They recognize a person’s correct gender on their passport and driver’s license, but that’s still not official enough? How does that happen?

    In the US passports are Federal and birth certificates, driver’s licenses are up to the states, so I see how disparities can come about. But this I don’t understand.

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