Please go and read Tombuktu’s post on the Cedar Lounge – it is an excellent summary of the problems with the Governments Gender Recognition Advisory Group report which was published yesterday. The post also details the problems with the process and also the reaction which might be expected by the mainstream media who won’t really understand what the issues are and will end up getting some legal professional in to interpret without really getting the offence and dilemmas which will be caused to Trans people if the law is changed in the manner suggested by the report.
By lunchtime yesterday is was clear that at the launch itself that there was trouble and that many attending were extremely unhappy at the the contents and the language used in the report. The Daily Mail’s political correspondent, Niamh Lyons, tweeted that it was the most polite heckling she had ever witnessed. I have to say I have thought twice about writing my response because I’m not Trans and I don’t want to offend so I’ll limit myself and hope that Trans people and their supporters continue to come forward and explain and challenge the assumptions that have been made.
The FF/Green Government formed the Gender Recognition Advisory Group in May 2010 to look at the issues which presented themselves following the Foy case. The group was entirely composed of Civil Servants and even though they received submissions and met with many groups from the rights and LGBT communities it is very evident that they really didn’t get it if an unnamed expert hadn’t told them.
Why was there no Trans rep on committee to at least provide an alternate view if even dissenting one? When the Government formed a group to look at the options for recognition of same sex relationships GLEN got a seat at the table. The ‘Do they take Sugar’ attitude of the GRAG formation works it’s way through the report with the offending terminology used and outcomes delivered. My quick flick through it yesterday led me to one review – it reeks of Civil Servantese.
The report recommends that Trans People applying for their gender to be recognised will have to have a formal diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder with evidence of medical treatments or will have to have had Gender Reassignment Surgery. This means that one has to have had hormones and mental health treatment and assessment or gender surgery (and hormones and mental health assessment/treatment and everything else). Medical model only cos of course they know what to do eh and make it all go away? An assumption that Gender Recognition is a mental illness or something that can be chopped away. There is no understanding of the issues facing InterSex here at all. (Update- The committee said despite the submissions made the terms of reference did not permit them to examine the issues here, they also felt there was not enough research or expertise – and maybe given the potential outcome from this group Intersex people are lucky.)
The report proposes that there is a panel which people will have to appear before made up of medical and legal representatives and one other where the applicant will will be told if they are a man or woman in the eyes of the state.
I know Trans people who are married and happily so, I know others who are divorced or separated. The report recommends that those applying for Gender Recognition be required to divorce or end their Civil Partnership before they can apply. No ifs, buts or maybes there.
TENI have expressed their deep reservations at the criteria that have to be met. The ICCL comment on the critical flaw ending marriages and civil partnerships. Dearbhail McDonald reports on the launch and responses from some of those present. There will be more to come and Joan Burton can expect more representations to be made in response to the report. Unfortunately I don’t think that the people advising her will be moveable and there will always be a Sir Humphreyesque but to the challenges to the forthcoming bill.