EXCLUSIVE: Lib Dems say reforming Gender Recognition Act ‘can’t wait’ and is a manifesto priority

The Liberal Democrats have announced that reforming the Gender Recognition Act “can’t wait” and will be an immediate priority if they win the UK general election.

The Lib Dems’ plans for updating the gender recognition process will be included in their manifesto, and will amend the GRA to make the process “simpler and fairer”.

These changes will include legally recognising non-binary people, scrapping the fee (which trans people currently pay to change their legal gender) and removing the requirement for trans people to prove their gender with medical reports.

“This government has, by its own admission, kicked these vital changes to the Gender Recognition Act into the long grass. This is prolonging uncertainty and creating unnecessary anxiety for trans people at a time when transphobic hate crime is at a record high,” said Christine Jardine, Liberal Democrat shadow minister for women and equalities.

“The Conservatives’ inaction on this shows a fundamental lack of empathy. They are treating trans people as second-class citizens. The Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future where every person’s rights are respected, including expression of their gender identity,” Jardine said.

The GRA reform plans were announced by then-prime minister Theresa May at the PinkNews Awards in 2017. A public consultation about how best to reform the GRA was carried out over the summer of 2018, ending over a year ago on 22 October 2018.

Despite more than 100,000 people giving the government their views on the possible reforms, the government repeatedly delayed publishing the results of the consultation.

In July 2019, the then-minister for women and equalities, Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt, told PinkNews that she hoped the results of the consultation, and the government’s plans for reforming the GRA, would be “out the door in the next few weeks”.

After a summer of changes at the top of the Conservative party, Liz Truss was appointed the new equalities minister. Truss recently said that she wants to rebrand the Government Equalities Office “the ministry for freedom”.

In response to an October 17 question from Jardine urging the government to implement the reforms, Truss told the House of Commons: “I will not be rushed into it.”

“I am very keen that we protect single-sex spaces and vulnerable women, and that we do not rush into reform before we have had full, proper discussion,” Truss said.

Labour’s shadow equalities minister, Dawn Butler, has also vocally criticised the delays to GRA reform.

The Lib Dems also committed to reforming the gender recognition process in their 2017 manifesto for the snap election.

Hate crimes against trans people in the UK have quadrupled since 2015.