In 2005, the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) was hailed as world leading: it did not require people who wanted to change gender to undergo a surgical procedure. Wind the clock forward 12 years. The same GRA is now seen as outdated, humiliating, demeaning, bureaucratic and in need of significant revision. Why?
Under the current law, a person must be over 18, have a documented diagnosis of gender dysphoria, have lived for 2 years in their chosen gender and intend to live permanently with the change. Until 2014, when same-sex marriage became legal, someone changing gender also had to divorce their spouse or have the marriage annulled. All of this is now seen as arbitrary and unreasonable. Anyone, the argument goes, should be able to legally change their gender simply by self-declaring – ‘being trans is not an illness’, Theresa May said recently, as she outlined plans to streamline the procedure and press ahead with the compulsory teaching of inclusive relationships and sex education in English schools. Note that – her deliberate placing of gender reassignment under the banner of relationships and sex education.
Justine Greening further added that coming out last year ‘really inspired me and encouraged me to do what I can in my own powers as Secretary of State for Education’. So a clear statement – she intends to use (some would say abuse) her power in public office to actively promote one lifestyle at the expense of others.
Adults, you can argue, have the right to choose to live however they wish. But adults also have a responsibility. If they are parents, they have a responsibility to provide stability in a loving, supportive home, to nurture children and to help them flourish. Responsible parenting often involves setting aside personal choices for the better good of the family.
Teachers, politicians, the church, health and social care workers also have a responsibility – one which often involves protecting children from making decisions which they may make in haste and regret for the rest of their lives. And yet, across the caring professions, government and the church, adults are falling over themselves to encourage children to explore the fluidity of their gender. Even the church is urging them to try on the many ‘cloaks’ of identity.
Children are becoming instruments of gender- fluid ideology, as the social landscapes around them dissolve into a mirroring fluidity. Parents are told that their children will kill themselves if they aren’t allowed to change gender. Activists are suggesting that children need protecting from their parents. Children’s rights are the new mantra: parental responsibilities don’t even get a mention.
Nobody seems to be talking about the impact of changes to the GRA on children. However, since growing numbers of children and young people who feel they are trapped in the wrong body are being given hormone blockers to prevent the onset of puberty prior to surgery, they will also presumably be given the right to legally change gender long before they are 18. They can’t drive a car until they’re 17; they can’t buy alcohol or tobacco products until they’re 18, yet they can make a life-defining choice about identity.
Consultation on changes to the GRA was promised for the autumn, although this still hasn’t happened. One commentator opined that this change to the law is, ‘an opportunity to increase human happiness’. You may want to suggest quite the opposite when the consultation opens.