by Debbie Hayton
Friday, 25
March 2022
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11:45

Self-ID will not give trans people “dignity and respect”

Why is Caroline Nokes pushing so hard against current Government policy?
by Debbie Hayton
Credit: Getty

Seven years after the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee opened the first (2015) inquiry into transgender equality, the ensuing debate has become polarised and heated. Yesterday, the committee reacted to the recent Government response to the committee’s second (2021) inquiry — which itself came hot on the heels of the Government’s (2020) publication of the analysis of its own (2018) consultation into changes to gender recognition. Confused yet?

It is easy to become exasperated that such a niche topic concerning a small group of people has occupied so much time at Westminster. But at stake is the boundary between men and women, and that affects everyone.

In a nutshell, the committee appears frustrated by the government’s caution. Caroline Nokes, the current chair declared that:

Moving closer to a system of self-declaration [of legal gender] and away from the currently over-medicalised process of gender transition would have given transgender people the dignity and respect they deserve.
- Caroline Nokes

Who told Nokes that self-declaration would give transgender people “dignity and respect” and why did she believe them? Nokes added:

I am disappointed that the Government is unwilling to take simple steps- such as the removal of the requirement to live as a stereotype in an acquired gender, or the requirement for a ‘gender dysphoria’ diagnosis- to move the GRA into the modern day.
- Caroline Nokes

The current process for gender recognition — that the government intends to retain — is neither onerous nor demeaning, certainly when compared with, for example, citizenship.

Trans rights are indeed human rights, but that means they must be considered in the context of everyone’s rights. It’s not just about us. For those of us who are married, it’s also about our spouses. The committee seemed to care little about them when they called for spousal consent to be removed.

If we change our legal sex, we change the status of our marriage. That affects two people, not just one. Currently, marriages cannot be changed without the consent of both parties — and rightly so. The committee sounded confused, claiming that married applicants need to “acquire the consent of their spouse in order to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate.” But that is not actually true. If consent is withheld, an interim certificate can be issued which can then be used as grounds to end the marriage. Once that happens, the trans person is free to apply to change their legal sex.

Removing safeguards moves nothing ‘into the modern day’. Those requirements — as Nokes calls them — are essential checks and balances that protect us all and foster public confidence in the process. That matters to me as a trans person, and it should matter to Nokes and her committee. After seven years of debate in Westminster, it’s high time for the Women and Equalities Committee to realise this fact.

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Peter LR
Peter LR
3 months ago

The principle is correct that social changes should take into account everyone in society and not be weighted merely towards one group. I’m glad they are wisely retaining the time and medical element. However, it appears that children are not being considered in these debates if it is still possible for them to have medical interventions such as puberty blockers. Regrettably, most social innovations place the rights of adults before any consequences for children. Presumably the children do not get an overruling say in gender change when it affects them too in a marriage.

Debbie Hayton
Debbie Hayton
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Children are my biggest concern in all of this. I am particularly worried about the impact on trans-identified children. But some trans campaigners are calling for their transition to be reflected not just on their own birth certificates, but their children’s also.

Peter LR
Peter LR
3 months ago
Reply to  Debbie Hayton

Appreciate you taking the time to respond, Debbie.

Lindsay Snoman
Lindsay Snoman
3 months ago

Thank you Debbie for another article of reason.
I recently went through “Trans Training” for work and it was presented by a representative of Mermaids, who wasn’t Trans himself but was a staunch “ally”. He came across like a warrior priest, adamant that no-one must ever question because the why is not important, you must only accept. We should take it all on faith. I came away feeling like it was an indoctrination attempt and I struggle to believe that he speaks on behalf of all Trans in the way he believes that he does. I sometimes wonder if the Allies are a greater threat to Trans acceptance than the gender critical.

Debbie Hayton
Debbie Hayton
3 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay Snoman

I’m afraid that I do not respond well to training like that.

Lindsay Snoman
Lindsay Snoman
3 months ago
Reply to  Debbie Hayton

Thank you for your reply, Debbie.

Neither do I, unfortunately I love my job and so have to suck it up and smile politely. My job is all about safeguarding young people and I have to question whether following the Mermaids instruction of “don’t question the why and just accept” if we will be helping these young people at all; or, as I suspect, will we be facing angry young adults asking us why we didn’t question and unpick the reasons that led them to believe they were indeed Trans. It’s very worrying indeed.

Last edited 3 months ago by Lindsay Snoman
Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
2 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay Snoman

Children, almost by definition, need adult guidance – that’s why we don’t let them vote, drink, marry etc. etc.
If a child said to an adult they were going to invest £1m in bitcoin most adults would question the desire, and rightly so. (obviously most children won’t have a spare £1m, make up your own simile)
It’s the job of adults to challenge children, to educate them and guide them.
Not providing guidance to children is an abusive neglect of their development.

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
3 months ago

What puzzles me is why a trans person would want to disturb the definition of what they are transitioning to? The prevailing genetic basis of the distinction between men and women has led to attributes of appearance and behaviour that you can transition from and to. If you remove it what are you left with to differentiate between them?

Alex Tickell
Alex Tickell
2 months ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

Excellent point Jon

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
3 months ago

I’m confused. With same-sex marriage being legal, why does changing your legal sex change the legal status of your marriage?

Last edited 3 months ago by Laura Creighton
Debbie Hayton
Debbie Hayton
3 months ago

Same-sex involves much the same rights and responsibilities as opposite-sex marriage, but they are not the same.
In my case, for example, my opposite sex marriage was solemnised in a church. Should I get a GRC (which I have no intention of doing, actually), our marriage certificate would be changed to strike out the name of the church and insert the local register office instead. Yet another legal fiction that is rarely mentioned.

Last edited 3 months ago by Debbie Hayton
Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
3 months ago
Reply to  Debbie Hayton

Thank you.

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 months ago
Reply to  Debbie Hayton

That’s interesting indeed.