My battle with a Gender Recognition Panel

The decision to transition had taken me several years. Early life was just about trying to understand why I was different, later life worrying about how I could make such a change in my life.

Eleven years ago I decided the time had come to deal with these feelings and that resulted in a lot of research, and a lot of soul searching.

I saw two different medical professionals, both of whom confirmed with weeks their diagnosis. They even supported me early on to undergo medical intervention.

Work stood in the way of transitioning as they had made me reapply for my own job. That prevented me transitioning at the start of my medical consultations and I relayed this to the people helping me. That was the November and the following March I fully transitioned. Work were, by this time, very supportive and even gave me additional time off to support that transition.

In the first week I had obtained a new passport (as we were going abroad) and applied for a new driving licence. I was treated extremely well at the passport office as I had to make it an urgent application. They even used the opportunity to train a member of staff in how to handle such changes.

A change of name Deed Poll (witnessed by a friend) and a letter from my doctor stating that I was intending to live in my new gender for the rest of my life was all that it took for both the passport and driving licence to be changed. I travelled, just days later, around the Mediterranean using my passport to prove my identity.

Two year later, I applied for an interim gender recognition certificate (as I was married to my second wife and would have to annul the marriage to get a full GRC).

I put together piles of papers including bank statements, utilities and credit cards in my new name, even payslips and my change of name documents. I had reports from my surgeon, my GP, my Counsellor and a practitioner registered on the approval list by the Gender Recognition Panel.

And the Gender Recognition Panel deferred my application because they were not satisfied that I had transitioned at work – a note in my diagnosis that I couldn’t transition when I first consulted the Counsellor meant that I was lying about transitioning 6 months later!

But not just that, they refused to believe I was divorced from my first wife (although I had been with my current wife for 13 years at the time).

Despite having a passport and driving licence for 2 years, having had gender reassignment surgery, having over 2 years of hormone treatment, having changed jobs and living my entre life in my acquired gender, the GRP refused to issue a GRC. Somehow, they decided they knew better than all the medical professionals that had supported me throughout those few years.

The current process fails in many ways. I cannot remember showing my birth certificate to anyone since it was changed, but my passport and driving licence are used to prove my identity on a regular basis.

The GRP seemed more concerned with finding reasons to deny me a GRC. 

Editor’s Note: The Government’s consultation on amending the Gender Recognition Act to make this process less stressful and subject to arbitrary decisions with no significant right of appeal ends on Friday. LGBT+ Lib Dems have some useful guidance for completing it here. 

* Ms A is a pseudonym but her identity is known to the editorial team of LDV

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  • What a horrific experience 🙁
    * hugs *

  • Caroline Macdonald 16th Oct '18 - 12:39pm

    Your bravery is incredible. I want you to know that trans and non-binary people within the party and online have helped me so much in terms of education and further enlightenment. This story is an example of why GRA reform is so important and I’ve been appalled at the trolling and abuse I’ve seen online and heard people have had to experience. I found the small taste I got unpleasant; then I realised the trans community get far, far worse every day. You are so brave yo tell this story. It’s thanks to people like you that I’ve realised all different communities of women, men and non-binary individuals really can come together on an intersectional basis to fight for equal rights and in shared experiences of discrimination.

  • “The GRP seemed more concerned with finding reasons to deny me a GRC.”
    Yes. This.

    I had similar problems years ago. They pulled out any card to deny issuing a GRC:
    – Claimed that UK law trumped International private law.
    – Claimed that same-sex marriages were not legal in Belgium when the GRC supporting documents note that Belgium legalised same-sex marriages.

    I gave up applying back in 2016. I’ll try again when the existing panel has retired, been sacked, or they have new staff.

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