British Medical Association rules trans and non-binary people should be able to self-declare their own gender

NHS doctors walk in Pride in London

Trans and non-binary people should be able to self-declare their legal gender without the need for a medical diagnosis, says the British Medical Association.

And the British Medical Association (BMA) is calling on the government to ensure the rights of trans and non-binary people in accessing healthcare, after the successful ruling yesterday in favour of trans rights.

The trade union, which is the professional association of doctors in the UK, passed the historic motion at its Annual Representatives Meeting (ARM) meeting.

The BMA motion declares the union supports: self-declaration of gender for trans and non-binary people, continued access to gender-related healthcare for under-18s, trans people accessing healthcare in settings “appropriate to their gender identity”, ensuring trans healthcare workers can access facilities of the gender they identify as, and ensuring all trans people can access gendered spaces in line with their gender identity.

“We as doctors are in a unique position, because we’re asked to take an active role in people’s transitions,” said Dr Grace Allport, who spoke in favour of the motion at the BMA’s virtual ARM yesterday.

“I hope the BMA ruling gets doctors to reflect on what we’re trying to do here,” she added. “And I hope GPs who are concerned about providing treatment like hormones will see that they have the backing of the medical community at large.”

Currently, adult trans men and women who want to have their gender legally recognised – a process governed by the 2004 Gender Recognition Act (GRA) and important for administrative purposes such as taxes, pensions and marriages – must have a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

Reforming the GRA and removing the need for trans people to have a medical diagnosis to get their gender legally recognised was suggested by then-prime minister Theresa May in 2017.

But despite a huge public consultation on potential reforms in 2018, and leaked reports earlier this year that suggested 70 per cent of the more than 100,000 people who responded to the public consultation back demedicalising the gender recognition process in the UK, the Conservative government has yet to publish the results or announce its plans for reforming the GRA.

Allport, who authored the BMA motion in favour of trans and non-binary people self-declaring their gender, told PinkNews that it was written with the leaked reports about GRA reform and equalities chief Liz Truss’ comments about trans healthcare in mind.

“As doctors, it’s really important that we take a stand,” she said. “The government shouldn’t be picking and choosing what healthcare is appropriate.”

The heated public debate over whether trans and non-binary people should be allowed to self-declare their gender (a system in place in dozens of other countries including Ireland, Malta and Argentina) had put doctors in a “weird position where we’re expected to define what is a valid transition”, Allport added.

“We end up as gatekeepers, not just of healthcare but of what is ‘male’ and ‘female’,” she continued. “It doesn’t feel like a role doctors should be doing – it doesn’t feel like something anyone should be doing for anyone else.”