2018.07.21

EASY STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO FILLING IN THE GRA CONSULTATION

WHY DO FEMALE RIGHTS NEED DEFENDING?

The Government has said it wants to make it easier for transgender people to change their birth certificate to the opposite sex.

There are many ways to make it easier, but it’s crucial that whatever changes happen they do not come at the expense of female rights.

One of the ideas, called sex self ID, will destroy the legal definition of ‘female’ and ‘woman’ and with it the legal rights of those born female, leading to the end of women-only spaces.

Most people can see the stupidity, danger and unfairness of sex self-ID. A recent national poll found just 18% of the electorate support it.

The Government is currently asking for our views in a public consultation. It wants to know how some of the changes might impact women.

We must all fill in the consultation and show the Government that women’s rights matter too. It is one of the most important things you can do to defend female rights.

Remember, filling it in doesn’t mean you are against transgender rights. It just means you support female rights too and you want fairness for all.

HOW DO I FILL IN THE CONSULTATION?

Anyone can fill the consultation in. You don’t have to be an expert.

There are 21 questions in the full consultation. You don’t have to answer them all.

We’ve shared some tips for responding to eight of the questions that are most critical to make sure female rights are protected.

You don’t have to do it all in one go. You can save your answers on-line as you go along. Or you can order a paper copy and fill it in by hand.

Don’t worry about the complicated jargon in the consultation questions. This guide explains the basics as you go along, step-by-step.

If you have time to answer all the consultation questions or want to find out more about a question, check out our comprehensive guidance on our website.

But if you don’t have much time, or find it difficult to explain your reasons for an answer don’t worry. A yes or a no answer will do. Everyone’s view counts.

Please do it now. For your mum, your daughter, your sister and yourself.

So let’s begin!

Print off our step-by-step guide HERE (or scroll down to see the guide below).

Click on SUBMIT TO CONSULTATION, which takes you straight to the government’s consultation webpage.

Fill in your details.

Now you are ready to tell the government what you think.

 


Before we tackle the questions, we need to explain a few  basics

What is gender dysphoria?

Gender dysphoria is a medical diagnosis, made when someone is experiencing discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between the sex they were born and their own sense of their ‘gender identity’.

Most transgender people don’t have gender dysphoria, and very few want or need any treatment to alter their body. In fact, it’s estimated that only 1 in 5 transgender people have any medical treatment at all, even fewer have genital surgery.

What is a medical transition?

This is when someone changes the appearance of their body to more closely resemble the gender they feel themselves to be. This is normally done by taking hormones, and sometimes by having surgery.

A medical transition can be done on the NHS as a treatment to reduce discomfort and distress. Only transgender people with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria are eligible for NHS treatment. Some people decide to have medical treatment privately.

The most common surgical changes are breast implants, cosmetic facial surgery and hair removal for people born male to look more like a woman, and breast removal for people born female to look more like a man. Surgery to change the appearance of the genitals is extremely rare.

What is a social transition?

The vast majority of transgender people change their appearance only through clothes, hair styles and name changes. This is called a social transition. Everyone is free to make these changes, including children. There is no requirement for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria or even to see a doctor or have any treatment.

A social transition is all that’s needed to be seen as transgender in the eyes of the law, and to be protected from discrimination by UK equality law and hate crime legislation.

 

What is a legal transition?

This is what the Government is consulting the public about. A legal transition is when someone changes their birth certificate to say they were born the opposite sex. Currently, someone must have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria before they are allowed to make this legal change, although medical treatment or surgery is not a requirement.

Powerful transgender lobby groups want parliament to legalise an on-demand process known as ‘sex self-ID’. With no checks and balances, any man, transgender or not, could sign a form and get a new birth certificate saying he was born female. This will make it easier for transgender people to change legal sex, but it would be bad law and open to abuse.

What is the difference between transsexual and transgender?

Transsexual people have severe gender dysphoria and have what we used to call ‘sex change surgery’ on their genitals. They are a very small group, estimated to be a few thousand people, for whom the original Gender Recognition Act was designed. Many transsexual people have spoken out against sex self-ID.

Transgender is a more recent, umbrella term and doesn’t involve ‘sex change surgery’ on the genitals. Instead most transgender people only undertake a social transition with some also taking cross-sex hormones to change the appearance of their body. Some transgender people also have cosmetic surgery, such as breast implants, but most retain their birth genitals. This is a very large group of people currently estimated to be up to 1% of the population and growing. Many transgender people to not have a gender dysphoria and are currently not eligible for a legal transition.

 

And now we’ll take you through the 8 most important questions, step-by-step ……


Should doctors be involved before someone can change the sex on their birth certificate?”

STEP ONE:

Click straight through to Question 3. Do you think there should be a requirement in the future for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria?

We would tick YES and here’s why:

If doctors, diagnoses and medical reports aren’t part of the checking process then the system becomes ‘sex self-ID’ and mean anyone can just declare themselves male or female and no one can say otherwise. It leaves the system open to abuse by anyone, for any reason.

Any man, transgender or not, could just sign a form and get a new birth certificate saying he was actually born female, when he was not. It will be fiction not fact.

Sex self-ID means sex discrimination laws won’t protect women from being treated unfairly because of their biological sex, because sex will become meaningless. Being a woman will be about ‘feeling female’ and not about the biological reality of being female and having a female body.

If a woman is turned down for promotion just because she might get pregnant, and the opportunity is given to a man instead, this is unlawful sex discrimination. But if the job is given to a male-bodied ‘woman’ instead it wouldn’t be because they are both ‘female’.

Sex self-ID means biological women will have no way in law of describing themselves or their specific needs as a group because the words ‘woman’ and ‘female’ will also include anyone born male.

By allowing individuals, not biology, to self-define their sex, we make all our records meaningless. Crimes committed by males, like rape, will be recorded as female crimes. Males will be counted as woman, distorting equality monitoring data. If we can’t monitor sex, we can’t prove unfairness and we can’t stop it.

Trans people can already get all other forms of ID, like driving licenses and even passports, changed on demand. The birth certificate is the document of last resort and the only document left that reflects someone’s birth sex.

How will a female-only service know who to lawfully exclude if any man could have changed ALL his paperwork to say he is female?


Should it remain a secret that someone has changed the sex on their birth certificate?”

STEP TWO:

Click straight through to Question 9. Do you think the privacy and disclosure of information provisions in section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act are adequate?

We would tick NO and here’s why:

It is against the law to be told when if the sex written on a birth certificate is not someone’s true birth sex. Only the courts and police have access to this information.

This means women, girls and society generally have no way of knowing or challenging whether a ‘female’ is in fact an intact adult male.

Laws or policies that compel us to accept a male as a female, but keep his biological sex secret, violate women and girls’ fundamental right to say an informed ‘no’ to being vulnerable, naked, or touched in a professional capacity by fully intact adult males.

Equality law gives female-only services the right to exclude male-born people, even if they are trans, but the Gender Recognition Act’s privacy protections take away the means to check who is male.

If female-only services don’t have the tools to find out who’s born male, they won’t stay female-only. Services will be too fearful of being taken to court for getting it wrong.

Trans people’s right to privacy must not trump a woman’s right to know when a male is present, or services’ lawful right to exclude males. Women’s safety depends on it.

Keeping the women who run or use women-only services in the dark about someone’s true birth-sex creates a serious safeguarding loophole for predatory males.


Will relaxing the rules mean women lose the male-free spaces they want, need and deserve? ”

The next four questions will be asking you how changes to the Gender Recognition Act will affect women’s access to male-free space. Each question asks about a different scenario.

So first we need to explain a little more about how the Equality Act works.

Women and girls have a legal right to not be ‘inclusive’ when it comes to their private spaces.

Someone’s birth sex is what matters when it comes to dignity, safety and fairness for women.

This is why Equality law has special rules to allow people who were born male to be lawfully excluded from female-only spaces, even if they are trans.

To apply the special rules an organisation must first carefully balance the rights of everyone involved and show why a woman’s need for ‘male-free’ should over-ride a male-born trans person’s need to be included in ‘female-only’. If they do not act fairly they risk being taken to court.

The Government has confirmed that Equality law will not be changed.

 

Some say this is enough to protect female rights.

They are wrong. Here’s why

1. The special rules are already not working for women. Many organisations don’t know they exist or how to use them. Changing the Gender Recognition Act will make this legal minefield even worse. Organisations will simply not use them.

2. If the Government endorses ‘feelings’ over ‘biology and birth’ then organisations will follow their lead and do the same, meaning they give up on ‘male-free’ altogether.

3. Without factual birth certificates or the ability to find out who’s born male organisations have no way of knowing for sure who to exclude. They risk getting sued, a damaged reputation, and loss of funding if they get it wrong. They won’t take that risk.

4. If a man uses the GRA to get a female birth certificate he will actually BE a woman in the eyes of the law. He will have rights as a transgender person AND as a woman. Courts may decide the added weight of this extra legal status is enough to tip the balance of rights in his favour, over-riding the rights of the women involved who need ‘male-free’.

Women’s rights on paper are worthless if they are never used.

They need strengthening not weakening further.


STEP THREE:

Click straight through to Question 12. Do you think that the participation of trans people in sport, as governed by the Equality Act 2010, will be affected by changing the GRA?

We would tick YES and here’s why:

Professional sports have their own rules about transgender participation based on hormone levels rather than what it says on someone’s birth certificate. Therefore, changes to the Gender Recognition Act won’t immediately impact women’s elite sports.

However, it is at amateur levels, where hormone testing is not feasible, that ‘women-only’ will start to mean ‘anyone who says they are a woman’.

Allowing any man who says he’s a woman to compete against women will destroy the fun and fairness of women’s sport. Women will stop playing, losing out on both the health benefits of physical exercise and the grass-roots practice and scholarships that provide paths to a professional career.


STEP FOUR:

Go now to Question 13. Do you think that the operation of the single-sex and separate-sex service exceptions in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the GRA?

We would tick YES and here’s why:

All organisations will find it more difficult to apply the special rules if sex self-ID is made law. But this is most concerning when it comes to services for women who have suffered male violence, like domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centres.

Privately, many worried professionals report they have had to include male born-transgender people, or they would lose their funding.

Staff and survivors also report a very real climate of fear – they feel completely unable to speak out in favour of female-only spaces for fear of backlash.

If sex self-ID becomes law the pressure, funding threats and hostility are likely to get even worse.

Trans-inclusion must not lead to the exclusion of another vulnerable group; women who need male-free spaces. Some services must remain strictly female-only.

Some women will simply be too traumatised to access a service if a male-born person might be there. For many abused women, like rape, domestic violence and childhood abuse survivors, a male-free space is essential for healing. These vulnerable women must not be forgotten.


STEP FIVE:

Go now to Question 14. Do you think that the operation of the occupational requirement exception in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the GRA?

We would tick YES and here’s why:

In some cases, it is legal for for an employer to restrict a job role to women only, and refuse the role to anyone born male.

Employers will find it more difficult to apply this special rule if sex self-ID is made law.

That means it could become increasingly common for these jobs to be delivered by ‘male-bodied’ women too.

This could reduce the effectiveness of the service being provided.

Female-only therapists are often more effective when counselling sexual abuse survivors.

Women are more likely to attend breast screening if they know the mammographer is female.

Young girls are more comfortable having their first bra fitted by a woman.

Sex abuse survivors report their distress at cervical screening is ameliorated when the nurse is a woman.

Rape victims usually prefer a female rape crisis worker or police officer.


STEP SIX:

Go now to Question 15. Do you think that the operation of the communal accommodation exception in relation to gender reassignment in the Equality Act 2010 will be affected by changing the GRA?

We would tick YES and here’s why:

Women and girls are uniquely vulnerable when undressed or asleep. It’s common sense and perfectly lawful to exclude people born male from sleeping accommodation for women. It’s what we all expect and take for granted.

However, places like youth hostels and sleeper trains have already changed their policies to allow males who “identify as a woman” into female-only shared rooms and dorms. If sex self-ID becomes law this will become the norm and we will have no means of objecting.

This means you or your daughter could be undressing or sleeping without knowing that a male-bodied person is present in your room.


Will relaxing the rules mean more male prisoners get to live in women’s prisons? ”

STEP SEVEN:

Go now to Question 19. Do you think that changes to the GRA will impact on areas of law and public services other than the Equality Act 2010?

We would tick YES and here’s why:

Changing the Gender Recognition Act will have a direct impact on the prison system.

If sex self-ID is made law it will mean any male prisoner could get a female birth certificate on demand. No medical checks, no intention of surgery, no changes to appearance, no checking of motives.

Prison policy states that: ‘prisoners must be located according to their legal gender‘ and refusal to move the [legally transitioned] prisoner to a female jail would be in ‘exceptional’ cases only.

As psychologists and prison experts have already warned, it is likely that some male prisoners– including violent criminals and sex offenders – would deliberately abuse the new law and attempt to force a move to the female estate to get access to women.

An individual risk assessment would be the only mechanism by which prison bosses would be able to prevent the move.

But we know these individual risk assessments are not always enough to prevent women being put at risk.

A double rapist is currently living in a women’s’ prison in Surrey.

Another male-born prisoner was sent to a women’s prison in Cheshire despite having two historic rape allegations against him. He has just been charged with the sexual assault of 4 of the female prisoners there. He will also face charges for the two historic rapes.

The prison service would be faced with potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of extra demands for transfer. They are already making decisions that put women at risk.

This system is already failing women and cannot be allowed to get worse.


Is there anything the Government hasn’t thought of”

STEP EIGHT:

Click through to Question 22. Do you have any further comments about the GRA?

We would tick YES and here’s why.

Changing the legal category of the female sex to include vastly increased numbers of people born male has far-reaching consequences. It will affect other groups within society too.

Religious groups:

Some sects within Islam and Judaism have strict rules that sometimes prevent females mixing with males, and for females to remain covered in the presence of males. These women need to know who is born male and when a male is present.

Sex self-ID will mean their freedom to access public space and vital services will be unfairly restricted.

Sexual orientation:

If any man can legally become a woman, it means any man can become a lesbian too. If he is sexually attracted to women the law see’s this as a homosexual orientation, despite the fact he has a male-body and a penis.

Access to lesbian-only support groups and social clubs are an important part of the lesbian community, especially for women who have just ‘come out’. Membership of these groups can be lawfully restricted to lesbians only, but this will also include any male-born ‘lesbians’ who have legally transitioned.

Lesbians are already under immense pressure to consider fully intact male-bodied ‘lesbians’ as part of their dating pool; reluctance is condemned and called transphobic.

Remember, this ‘logic’ applies to everyone. Would you expect a heterosexual man to consider a male-bodied ‘female’ as a potential sexual partner?

Safeguarding children:

Laws or policies that dictate a male must be accepted as female, and conceal his birth sex, contravene basic rules of safeguarding and informed consent. The Government has said only adults will be allowed to legally transition but it doesn’t mean changes to this law won’t affect children. It is children and vulnerable adults who will be most at risk if something goes wrong.

All children should be brought up to feel confident in saying ‘No I don’t feel comfortable’ and not to ignore their own warning signals. Self-ID policies mean that children will have to accept a man as a woman if he says so, and say nothing. Lessons on consent and gender stereotypes will become meaningless.

 


Thank you for completing the consultation.

You have taken an important step towards saving female rights.

We must get as many people as possible to do the same before the 19th October.

Most people have no idea that the law might change, or that a public consultation is underway.

Please keep helping us to spread the word, to defend female rights, and say no to sex self-ID.

WHAT CAN I DO NEXT?

Tell everyone on social media

to show the world that you have done it and encourage others to do the same.

 

Speak with friends, family, neighbours and colleagues

and tell them why you care about women’s rights and have completed the consultation. Word of mouth is the most effective way to persuade others it’s the right thing to do.

 

Print off and pass on this booklet to a friend

so they can fill in the consultation too. It doesn’t matter if it’s new to them. Everything they need to know is right here in one place.

 

Meet up with friends

to do the consultation together using our guidance.

 

Download, print or share

the digital campaign resources we’ve made to help you spread the word.

 

Join up with local campaigners and hit the streets

we’ve got tons of great resources for you to use.