This week, UK Minister for Women and Equalities Kemi Badenoch announced that places which have “less rigorous” gender recognition laws than the UK due to reforms like sex self-ID laws, have been removed from its approved list for gender recognition certificates (GRC).
In a draft order laid before Parliament, the Australian states of South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania have been removed, as well as various US States and Canadian provinces, and countries including New Zealand, Mexico, Spain, Norway, and Switzerland.
Currently in the UK, a person can apply for a gender recognition certificate if they are 18 years or over, have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria in the UK, have been living in their ‘affirmed gender’ for at least two years, and intend to live in this gender for the rest of their life.
This is in contrast to self-ID laws in Australian states like South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania, which allow people to change their *sex* on their birth certificates once in a 12 month period, including minors either with parental consent, or in some cases a court order. Queensland passed similar laws earlier this year, which are yet to come into force. It remains to be seen whether other parts of Australia with varying degrees of self-ID will also be removed from the list.
Such laws put women and girls at risk, by allowing men to self-identify as women and access female-only spaces, services, and sports. They also put at risk children by allowing them to concretise a transgender identity by legally changing their sex, encouraging them further down a process of ‘transitioning’, which has been proven to cause serious harm.
“Inadvertently allowing self-ID for obtaining GRCs is not Government policy. It should not be possible for a person who does not satisfy the criteria for UK legal gender recognition to use the overseas routes to do so,” Ms Badenoch told MPs.
“We also need to ensure parity with UK applicants. It would not be fair for the overseas routes to be based on less rigorous evidential requirements. This would damage the integrity and credibility of the process in the Gender Recognition Act.”
“This is not about virtue signalling which countries we like or which countries we don’t like, far from it. This is about whether another country’s system meets our guidelines.”
Ms Badenoch explained she is working to provide “legal certainty” in order to “reduce the tensions that have emerged as a result of the confusion around the terms sex and gender” in the UK.
The Minister also raised concerns over ‘gender affirming care’ for children, which she said could be seen as “a new form of conversion therapy” as the UK sees an “epidemic of young gay children being told that they are trans”. She suggested that any bans on ‘conversion therapy’ would include those who try to make gay children transgender.
“In that time since this Bill was first promised, this issue has developed. Now the threat to many young gay people is not conversion relating to their sexuality but conversion relating to gender identity. Girls like Keira Bell who were rushed on to puberty blockers by the NHS and had a double mastectomy now regret the irreversible damage done to them. I believe this is a new form of conversion therapy,” said Ms Badenoch.
“Respected clinicians like those who left Tavistock have made clear they are fearful of giving honest clinical advice to a child because if they do not automatically affirm and medicalise a child’s new gender they will be labelled transphobic, so whatever Bill we do needs to address many of those issues and that is why we are going to publish a draft Bill.”
The UK has in general, also been taking a much more cautious approach to the issues of ‘gender affirmation’, either in relation to self-ID following the various prison scandals where trans-identifying male sex offenders were housed in women’s prisons, or in relation to transgender treatments and surgery, particularly in the case of minors in the wake of the Cass Review.
"This more cautious approach – including the removal of Australian states with sex self-ID laws from the UK GRC list and moves to protect children from irreversible, medicalised gender practices – must be seriously considered by NSW politicians in light of proposed self-ID and conversion ban laws," said Women's Forum Australia CEO Rachael Wong.
The proposed laws include Independent NSW MP Alex Greenwich’s ‘Equality Bill’ which contains self-ID reforms, and the NSW Labor Government’s proposed ban on conversion practices.
"While countries like the UK move in the opposite – and indeed, right – direction on matters of ‘gender affirmation’, NSW MPs have an opportunity to lead Australia in ensuring that laws and policies safeguard the rights and welfare of all citizens, not least of all women and children."
Women’s Forum Australia is an independent think tank that undertakes research, education and public policy advocacy on issues affecting women and girls, with a particular focus on addressing behaviours and practices that are harmful and abusive to them. We are a non-partisan, non-religious, tax-deductible charity. We do not receive any government funding and rely solely on donations to make an impact. Support our work today.
|I’ll stand with women ▷