Ask the Lawyer: My child has told me they want to change their gender – what can I do to help?
PinkNews brings you the latest in a series of features which sees your real questions answered by leading lawyers at Simpson Millar.
As Channel 4 premieres its groundbreaking documentary about issues faced by children and teenagers at the only NHS gender identity clinic which deals with minors, some concerned parents ask what they can do to help their trans kid.
The question comes from parents who says her 14-year-old has come out as transgender and who wants to know what they can do to help them
They ask: “Our child has told us that they are transgender, but they are only 14. Legally, what steps can we take to help them go on the journey to change their gender?”
A Simpson Millar lawyer answers, saying:
A person cannot legally change their gender until they are 18. But, there are plenty of steps you can take to support your child and hopefully make the process easier for them when they decide they are ready to legally change their gender.
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 provides a route to allow transgender people to gain recognition of their preferred gender role for all legal purposes. If they want their acquired gender to be legally recognised, they’ll need to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate.
There are 4 elements required for a successful application for a Gender Recognition Certificate:
- The applicant should have been living in their preferred gender role permanently for at least 2 years.
- They must have been under medical supervision and assessed as having gender dysphoria, or they must have been previously diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
- They are currently unmarried.
- They are able to declare that they intend to live permanently in their new gender role for the rest of their life (this is the element that requires a person to be 18 to make this decision).
If your child is in a position whereby they want to legally change their name you can make an application to Deed Poll, which can make their deed poll gender-neutral or can include a change of title. The government usually recognises this change, which can make changing names on documents such as passports an easier process.
Changing their name and title is also part of the process of applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate, as it shows that they are permanently living in their acquired gender. As your child is under 18, they will need the consent of everyone who has parental responsibility for them (this is usually just their parents) to enable them to change their name.
If your child intends to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate, they’ll also need a report from a psychiatrist or psychologist stating that they have gender dysphoria. If you haven’t already done so, you can speak to your GP about a referral to The Tavistock and Portman service for children and young people with gender identity issues or CAMHS – both have experts who can assist you going forward with this process.
Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and as such anyone who is intending to undergo, is undergoing, or has undergone gender reassignment is protected by this.
If your child is ready and you have not already done so, you can also make arrangements with their school so that your child can be known by their chosen name if they wish to change it now.
The explanatory notes to the Act make it clear that gender reassignment is to be considered a social process and not a medical one. As such, any school your child attends should be prepared to consider what arrangements can be made for them – for example, the use of changing rooms and toilets.
If your child’s school fails to consider making alternative arrangements for them, get in touch with one of Simpson Millar’s Education Law solicitors on 0800 260 5005 about what steps you can take next.
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