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A Brief Overview - The Gender Recognition Act

The Gender Recognition Act of 2004 has given rights to trans people to be recognised in their acquired gender. It affords transgendered and transsexual people the same rights as a person born in gender. The hope is that as the act becomes more widely known and accepted, transsexual people will be able to enjoy a life without fear of persecution in their acquired gender.

Gender Recognition certificate (GRC) - in layman’s terms, this is the legal way to change gender, including birth certificate, allowing you all the legal rights of the acquired gender. The GRA does not extend these rights to transvestites whose primary self-definition is as male - it applies only to people who identify themselves as belonging permanently to the gender other than the one in which they were born.

There is no need to have had surgery and there is no requirement to have surgery in the future, basically because the law recognises that surgery is not right for every one. Indeed, some people cannot have surgery due to medical issues.

The main conditions for obtaining a GRC are that you have lived in your acquired gender for a period of not less than two years, that you are over 18, and intend to live in your acquired gender for the remainder of your life.

The Gender Recognition Panel requires proof that you have lived in your acquired gender for two years or more, and changed your name to reflect your new gender. The Panel also requires medical documentation from a recognised, qualified gender specialist confirming that you suffer from Gender Dysphoria/Transsexualism, and information on how this diagnosis was made.

There is a list on the Gender Recognition Panel's website of specialists from whom the Panel will accept a diagnosis. Most gender specialists in the UK are on this list, and a qualified specialist will be fully informed about the GRC and will prepare evidence in the form of a letter to accompany an application. The Panel will accept older evidence from years ago, not just new evidence.

The whole process has been simplified and is not overly difficult to do yourself. However, a word of warning - obtaining a GRC is great but it has implications when dealing with with organisations who deal with financial matters like National Insurance, Income Tax and your pension. The benefits agency will flag your records as a "sensitive case" and will place restrictions on the people who are permitted to deal with you. If you should then ever need any help, simply phoning up and getting something sorted out over the phone becomes a bit more complicated as you normally have to wait for the person who can deal with you to phone you back.

If you are married and your partner applies for a Gender Recognition Certificate, they will not be granted the main certificate itself straight away, but will be issued with something called an Interim Gender Certificate, provided they meet the criteria. What this means is that they will be given a set amount of time in which to divorce - at this time, 6 months. The certificate itself is grounds for divorce or annulment depending on where in the UK you live. If you are resident in England, you can I believe change your marriage to a civil partnership on the day the full certificate is granted if it is your wish to do so.

If you need to know more the relevant links are as follows:-

The complete and in-depth look at the act itself

The Gender Recognition panels web site which includes the application form itself

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