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A backbench business debate on a motion relating to transgender equality will be held in the Commons Chamber on Thursday 1 December 2016. This Debate Pack gives a brief overview of the issues together with links to relevant materials.

Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. Under the Gender Recognition Act 2004, people can apply to the Gender Recognition Panel for legal recognition of their acquitted gender – a Gender Recognition Certificate. However, many trans people live in their acquired gender without doing this.

The Women and Equalities Committee published a report on Transgender Equality on 14  January 2016. The report criticised the Gender Recognition Act 2004 for its “medicalised approach” which, it argued, pathologised trans identities and ran “contrary to the dignity and personal autonomy of applicants.”

 The report discussed a range of other issues, including:

  • spousal consent for a change of marriage status under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013
  • terminology in the Equality Act 2010, which the Committee felt was “outdated”
  • the problems faced by trans people in using NHS services
  • the need to build trans people’s confidence in the criminal justice system

 In its Response to the report, published on 7 July 2016, the Government committed to review the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to explore possible changes to streamline and de-medicalise the gender recognition process. It also promised a new action plan for transgender equality.

In her submission to the Backbench Business Committee, the Committee’s Chair, Maria Miller welcomed the review the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the new action plan, but said there were shortcomings in other legislation and in public service provision to trans people which needed further debate.

Some feminists have criticised the Committee’s report for its emphasis on self-declared “gender” at the expense of sex as a protected characteristic. Others have welcomed the report. Current Parliamentary material on gender recognition is available on the gender recognition topic page.

 There is a separate Library Briefing Paper 7420 on Transgender Prisoners.

Documents to download

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