Today I’ve been thinking hard – for the hundredth time – about gender recognition certificates, those pieces of paper by which a person such as myself can have their gender legally recognised. I’ve been putting off this decision for a couple of years in the hope that the law would change and I could self declare my gender rather than navigate a quite complicated system, gather paperwork from different places, and get two medical professionals to explain the ins and outs of why I’m a woman with a penis rather than a woman who has undergone major surgery with painful preparation (like electrolysis on the penis) and more painful recovery (and the experience of sleeping with a dildo up you for six months) and possible complications that can last for years.
There’s a lot in the media concerning possible changes to the laws about a transgender person having their gender recognised. Were I nonbinary most of this coverage and lots of the legal debates would completely ignore me and I’d be completely excluded from legal recognition as the law currently stands. But I’m not. So currently I can apply for a gender recognition certificate. In the future I may be able to self declare my gender and have it legally changed on that basis just as I would be able to in a dozen countries including the Republic of Ireland.
Much of the media coverage has been scare stories. Much of it about public toilets. Apparently, we hear, self declaration is a very dangerous thing, not that anything bad whatsoever has happened as a result of self declaration in those other areas, and not that self declaration would change any law whatsoever as it pertains to public toilets. This coverage just wants people scared, speaks ill of transgender people en masse, and has contributed to a sizable increase in transphobic hate crime. People such as Piers Morgan regularly insult us on national television and prime time shows go as far as debating whether a transgender identity is valid at all. In 2018 it’s still acceptable, in a misguided attempt at balance, to promote the views of a woman who thinks that I and people like me are grotesque parodies of women.
I hear that my claim to existence is a terrifying thing. But the people around me who know and love or like me seem to have missed that claim. They have no fear whatsoever on account of me being transgender – barring worries they may have for me at times because being transgender isn’t the easiest thing in the world.
In 2018 it’s a lot harder on the streets of the United Kingdom for a transgender person who doesn’t “pass” (i.e. they are recognisably transgender) than it was in 2017. And the media is to blame for this. Piers Morgan, Germaine Greer and all the other transphobic media darlings out there are symptoms. The transphobic condition leads to transgender people receiving verbal abuse, physical violence, rejection, and more and the difficulties we face lead many to such despair that we attempt suicide. The statistics are shocking. Morgan, Greer and all the others contribute to all of that and they should be deeply ashamed. Instead, they walk in pride of their dangerous views.
I am hoping for a change in the law, a move to self declaration. It would make life a lot easier for many transgender people – especially if nonbinary genders are finally given some kind of legal recognition – and would not change the lives of cisgender people in any way whatsoever. All the fearmongering is sickening. Self declaration should scare nobody. It will affect no one’s life apart from the people being allowed to make that declaration. There will be safeguards in place and it’s not as if anyone is going to be able to swap back and forth on a whim.
In the meantime I would like to be legally female. Currently I’m not. I changed my name legally at the start of August 2013 but I’m still male as far as the law is concerned – even though, thanks to a supporting letter from a gender specialist psychiatrist – I have an ‘F’ marker on my passport. I’m also “Mrs.” on all official records but legally I’m a man who is a Mrs. and has a female passport. Isn’t that incredibly bizarre?
So what do I need to do?
To obtain a gender recognition certificate there’s lots of printing and forms to fill in.
The application form:
The guidance to the form:
The statutory declaration I have to do with a solicitor:
The statutory declaration my wife has to complete with a solicitor, agreeing both to my change of legal gender and to us remaining married:
Those declarations, both of which will cost money to get authorised, were a step forward from the initial proposals to allow a legal change of gender and from the proposals in the revision to the law that took place a few years ago. Prior to that revision I would only have been able to become legally female if my wife and I divorced, and that wasn’t going to happen. The change so that we would be able to remain married – with my wife being able to veto my claim to be female – was almost a last-minute thing, proposed as an extra revision as the bill reached the House of Lords. Without the peer who proposed the change I wouldn’t even be thinking of legally changing my gender under the current system because my wife and I wouldn’t be prepared to be forced to divorce.
I also need a full report from my GP or a psychologist and another from a psychiatrist specialising in gender treatment. Without these two medical reports my application will not be considered.
I already have the report from the psychiatrist. I asked for it a couple of years ago and it’s been sitting in a folder ever since.
These are the guidelines to help a GP write a report including an explanation of why I have not had surgery. The GP has to take special care to justify why I still have a penis:
After all that is done and filled in I need lots of paperwork – originals – to prove that I’ve been living as me.
Then I need to pay a fee of £140.
The gender recognition panel, who I have never met and will never meet, then have to make a decision concerning whether I’m me based on all these forms, medical reports and utility bills. It is possible they will still reject my claim. Afterwards, assuming they accept my claim – which is the most likely outcome of course – there will be more forms to fill in and more processes to go through in order to obtain new birth and marriage certificates. I know that my wife would quite like a new marriage certificate.
But I want to be legally female. Because I am female. It’s coming up to five years since I called myself Clare – and it’s only a few hours less than that since Beth started to call me Clare. That day is one for me to celebrate.
I want to do this. Now is the time.
A suitable time. Because in 18 hours time I will almost certainly be discharged from the care of the NHS Gender Dysphoria Service. Medically I will remain taking hormone treatments but nothing else will be done. Apart from the odd day and moment I’m not suffering any difficult gender dysphoria.
I live as me. I’m accepted as me. By lots and lots of people – strangers and all the amazing friends and acquaintances I’ve met in the last five years. There are people who don’t accept me, people who reject my gender. Of course there are. But they aren’t so important. They can just bugger off!
I think it’s time. No. That’s not strong enough. I know it’s time. Get this gender certificate.
Anyone want to do lots of printing for me? There are only 55 pages.
Anyone want to celebrate my discharge from the gender service by helping to fund a gender recognition certificate?
It’s okay if not. I can do these things. Of course I can. But I’m cheeky enough to ask!
It’s time. This woman wants the state to recognise her womanhood.