I can only speak for Scotland here, as that is the country I was born in and have lived in most of my life, so legislation may be different elsewhere.
Currently, in Scotland, if you wish to legally change your gender, you have to jump through a series of loopholes.
You have to be:
- Over 18 years of age
- have been diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” (spoilers: not all trans people experience this)
- Have lived as your “acquired gender” for at least 2 years
- “Intend to live as your acquired gender for the rest of your life”
- Hope and pray a panel of complete strangers will pass you as true trans and allow you to change your gender on legal documents.
Information about such taken from this site.
Let’s take this apart bit by bit.
- You must be over 18 years of age. Ok, I get that this is because 18 is the age of majority in the UK, but it traps a lot of trans teens and children in unsafe positions, because they have to get permission from their parents. And if their parents are actively oppressing their transness? Messy situations arise. It also assumes that folx over the age of 18 are fully in control of their lives, which in this current climate is laughable.
- You must be diagnosed with “gender dysphoria”. I talked a bit about dysphoria back in the binding post. And I mentioned there, as I will restate here, not all trans folx experience dysphoria. Also, second spoilers, not everyone experiences it the same. Often in cases of gender, medical definitions and standards are woefully outdated, and so folx who experience their gender and dysphoria in a way that isn’t proscribed in a medical text can be denied the care and documentation they need. Besides, trans people know they are trans, they don’t need a doctor to confirm.
- You must have lived as your “acquired gender” for at least 2 years. Let’s unpick that language first: a trans person’s gender isn’t “acquired”, it is their authentic gender and this language is disgusting. It shows again that woeful misunderstanding of gender, and further others trans folx. And what’s with the arbitrary time limit? 2 years is a long time for anyone, and if you’re living in a place or working in a job where you are unsafe whilst transitioning, but need to transition to be able to move on, this leaves people in unsafe environments for no good reason whatsoever.
- You must “intend to live as your acquired gender for the rest of your life”. As I mentioned way back in the beginning in the post on passing, some trans folx move back and forward along the spectrum at different times in their lives. This legislation traps people in the false binary, and doesn’t allow for growth of person. And again, it’s not the individual who is getting to choose their “acquired gender”, it’s whatever dance they’ve had to do to convince a medical professional to give them the letter to change their gender in the first place.
- Rely on a panel of complete strangers to pass you as truly trans. Now, I understand these panellists are likely to be medical professions “specialising in trans medical care”, but really, how many of them have been on the other side of the table? I doubt we’ll know, because as far as I have been able to find, the members of the panel are just civil servants who happen to work in that particular government department. There is no information about their experience, qualifications or anything that says why they are liable for a decision that could destroy someone’s life if denied. Hardly seems fair, does it? And yes, your doctor and one of the many “specialists in the field of gender” will have prepared the report that went to the panel to “prove” you are trans, but again, it’s people who don’t really know you.
There is hope: the Scottish government have been talking a big game for a while about making it possible to self-certificate your legal gender, and for making it possible to legally register as non-binary, but as with all things legislation, between time taken by the committees deciding on the wording of the paper, and the opposition from the likes of the Wee Frees, there is no way of knowing when this legislation will be put into place. And until then, trans folx will have to continue to jump through archaic loops just to be seen as valid humans.