Government claims there will be ‘social consequences’ if trans people can pick their legal gender

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The government has rebuffed calls to allow people to self-define their gender – claiming it has a “legitimate” interest to block it due to “important legal and social consequences”.

The UK Ministry of Justice was responding to a Parliamentary petition calling for reforms to the UK’s gender recognition laws – after the Republic of Ireland made revolutionary changes that make changing your legal gender as simple as renewing your passport.

The petition called for the UK to adopt the Irish system, in place of its current “humiliating, outdated and unnecessary” system of requiring medical evidence and an application to a Gender Recognition Panel.

Over 30,000 people have signed the official Parliamentary petition, mandating the government to reply – but it smacked down the main arguments.

The reply claimed: “A person’s gender has important legal and social consequences. The state has a legitimate interest in ensuring that people who take on a new legal status can establish that they meet certain criteria.

“The required statements and evidence are limited to what is necessary to establish that an applicant meets the criteria for recognition.

It adds: “There are no requirements for a trans person to apply for legal recognition; it is entirely a personal decision. Many trans people live and work in their acquired gender without feeling it necessary to apply for legal recognition. However, an application for gender recognition should only be made where a person has made a permanent decision to change their gender.”

Despite the claims, Ireland has so far experienced no issues with its process of self-defining gender, which has been adopted by a number of countries around the world.

The reply from the Ministry of Justice also claimed the government was “not aware” of any specific detriment experienced by non-binary people who don’t identify as male or female – just days after Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee heard from trans activists who raised very specific issues.

It says: “Non-binary gender is not recognised in UK law. Under the law of the United Kingdom, individuals are considered by the state to be of the gender that is registered on their birth certificate, either male or female.

“The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination if it arises from their being perceived as either male or female.

“We recognise that a very small number of people consider themselves to be of neither gender. We are not aware that that results in any specific detriment, and it is not Government policy to identify such people for the purpose of issuing non-gender-specific official documents.”