Almost two years later than the Gender Recognition Act consultation, the UK government published their response on the 22nd of September 2020. Their response failed to carry out reform expected by thousands of respondents – can the Scottish Gender Reform Bill pick up where they left off?
What is Gender Dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria can be described as a sense of unease a person may feel due to a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. The Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004 was introduced to allow transgender individuals to gain legal recognition in their appropriate gender and obtain a new birth certificate. However, the process has been labelled as “bureaucratic, expensive and intrusive”, which led to the UK government holding a public consultation in 2018 to discover what shortcomings were occurring, and how the process could be improved.
Their response to the consultation was met with widespread disappointment, due to it falling “far short” of promised reforms to the GRA; for example, 64.1% of respondents requested that the requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria to be removed. However, this, among a multitude of other requirements, remained, with only marginal administrative alterations being made to the legal process.
Government involvement in Gender Dysphoria
Since the government’s announcement of a consultation in 2018, waiting times for Gender Identity Services have been continuously increasing, with the number of recorded anti-trans hate crimes simultaneously trebling. Referrals to the Gender Identity Development Service have also risen consistently over the years, ranging from 1409 in the 2015-16 financial year to 2383 in 2020-21.
The decision for the process to remain medicalised and highly bureaucratic will only pour further fuel onto the fire, with gender dysphoria services feeling the heat in terms of heightened demand. Despite the government promising at least three new gender clinics as part of their response, with a cut to waiting lists of around 1,600 patients by 2022, the overarching issue of the tiresome and lengthy gender recognition process still looms, and with the rising demand for services failing to cease, these new clinics will soon be stretched to their limits.
Under the terms of Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, with the progression of the bill being resumed after attention was diverted to the pandemic, transgender people would be able to self-declare their gender without medically evidencing gender dysphoria. This would overtake the hindered progress made on the Gender Recognition Act; self-identification lessens the strain on gender dysphoria services due to the absence of a drawn-out medical process, with less support required by transgender individuals. This means shorter waiting times and a better quality of service.
Opposition to self-identification
Despite its obvious benefits, some feminist organisations have opposed the bill, stating that women’s rights would be compromised by allowing biological men to self-identify as women. No adverse effects of Ireland’s de-medicalised, self-determination system have been seen thus far, though, which has been in place since 2015.
Quality of transgender mental health is inferior compared to Lesbian, Gay, or Bisexual (LGB) individuals; 46% of trans people contemplated suicide in 2018 compared to 31% of LGB, according to Stonewall’s LGBT Health in Britain Report. By allowing self-identification and the removal of a gruelling, demoralising medical process, the proposed Gender Reform Bill will provide transgender individuals with the dignity they deserve, improving quality of life and relieving pressure on heavily overstretched gender dysphoria services.
HealthBid’s extensive knowledge of the healthcare system allows us to provide our clients with seamless support throughout the bidding process. We have ample experience in writing captivating tender responses for gender dysphoria services, recognising the essential support they provide for those struggling with their gender identity, and the subsequent need for such services within local healthcare environments.
Written by Charley Peacock, Bid Writer