The mother of a trans child and co-founder of the blog Growing up Transgender, alongside her husband, explains why the current Gender Recognition Act makes her daughter less equal and why reforming the legislation is a human right.
I spoke to my daughter about the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) today.
I’ve avoided the topic of the GRA up until now, tried to shelter her from transphobia and hate. But last night I explained. I told her that when she was born there was a piece of paper that said ‘boy’. She gets that. I told her, as she already knows, that her school record now says, ‘female’, her doctor’s record says, ‘female’, her dentist record says, ‘female’, her passport says, ‘female’. “Good”, she said.
She chose her words carefully: “Do you mean trans people are not allowed to be MPs?
But that little piece of paper from when you were born, your birth certificate, says, ‘male’, and there is a rule from the government that says that you are not allowed to change it to female until you are 18. I said, “we want to try to talk to the government about trans children, to tell them they exist, because the people in the government haven’t met any trans kids, they don’t know about kids like you”. “Ok” she said.
Image via Pixabay / sweetlouise
I said, “one of the reasons the government don’t know much about trans people is there aren’t any trans MPs”. This was genuinely a shock and a disappointment to her. She thought carefully. With wide eyes, a look of worry and sadness, she chose her words carefully: “Do you mean trans people are not allowed to be MPs?” That little question broke my heart.
My child and all trans kids know way too much about hate, about discrimination, about cruelty, about rejection. I’m trying to teach my daughter to be strong, to set her sights high to believe she can do anything. But she is already learning that her government can deny her rights. That the government, which does not now, and has never had a trans MP, wields the overwhelming power to prevent her changing a piece of paper, which will continue to state ‘male’ into her distant future.
If her government won’t treat her with respect, why would she expect anyone else to respect her rights?
That document shames her. It humiliates her, it takes away her power. Having no right to correct her birth certificate teaches her today, now, that she is less valid, less equal, that she should expect to be treated as lesser, as a second class citizen. It teaches her that people can disrespect her and restrict her rights. It teaches her that she should lower her ambitions and dream small. If her government won’t treat her with respect, why would she expect anyone else to respect her rights. Why should she respect herself?
Image via Pixabay / gtjoflot
Some of our trans children today, now, are growing up accepted and loved. Living their best lives. Enjoying their childhoods. Treated with kindness and dignity. Many of these kids have updated every record and piece of documentation. Apart from their birth certificate. The existing Gender Recognition Act tells the wider public that trans girls like my daughter are not valid until age 18, as though being trans is a decision to be made by a legal adult. My daughter did not make a decision to be trans. That is just who she is.
Reforming the Gender Recognition Act is about human rights, about respect.
Reforming the Gender Recognition Act is about human rights, about respect. It is about what message we want to send to a vulnerable group of children who have already been let down in so many ways by the adults around them, and by their country. Trans children deserve better. Please don’t ignore trans children. Please support trans kids. Help them gain legal recognition. Do not let them down.
Legal recognition should be a human right, and lack of legal recognition harms trans children.
If you want to support trans people you can respond to the current consultation.
Legal recognition is a human right and lack of legal recognition harms trans children. To ask for gender recognition of under 18s within the consulation please see this guidance by Gender Identity Research and Education Society, Trans Equality Legal Initiative, and families of trans children.