‘All they’ve done is ignite a toxic debate’

UNISON says the government’s response to the Gender Recognition Act consultation is a missed opportunity and has, once again, let down the trans community

Trans flag in pale blue, pink and white

UNISON has accused the government of letting down trans people and offering false hope after a consultation on the Gender Recognition Act resulted in minimal changes and none of the improvements that the union or trans people have demanded.

It’s two years since the government consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act – the law that sets the process for trans people to bring the gender on their birth certificates in line with their gender identity – was announced.

The consultation was to update the process, which many believe is over-medicalised, legalistic, intrusive and indeed, humiliating for trans people.

Finally, the government announced last week the results of the consultation and its plans, with the only change being to reduce the fee and move the process online.

Yet consultation responses were overwhelmingly in favour of bringing our laws in line with international best practice, as UNISON has called for.

Commenting on the announcement, UNISON assistant general secretary for bargaining and equalities Christina McAnea said: “The government has handled this appallingly at every stage.

“They seemed to offer hope, but all they have done is ignite a toxic debate while yet again letting down the trans community. We are not talking about the niceties of a bureaucratic process – this is people’s lives.

“We welcome Labour recommitting to change when they are in office. Till then, we will do what we always do – support and represent trans members and negotiate good workplace policy and practice.”

Convenor of UNISON’s trans caucus Emma Procter added: “We are disappointed that the government has not taken the opportunity to make significant and meaningful reforms to the Gender Recognition Act in light of the overwhelming responses to their own survey in 2018.”