Trans identity

During the committee stage of the ‘getting rid of ID cards’ Bill – the issue was raised as to how this would impact on those living in an acquired gender. It is currently the case that a passport will be issued in the acquired gender on production of a medical report. In fact, it is the passport in the acquired gender that then helps the individual who is transitioning or who has transitioned to acquire the Gender Recognition Certificate which means that that person’s gender will become, for all purposes, their gender. There is more information about the Gender Recognition Certificate here.

The discussion on this centred around whether there would be an impact on the transgender community when ID cards are withdrawn.

Julian Huppert (LibDem MP for Cambridge), in the debate in committee on ID cards and their relevance to transgender identity, pointed out that the trans people he had consulted with, wanted anything but to be separately identified because they would then be the only people to hold two identities (legally) and more identifiable as not of one gender. In fact he went on to question whether there was any need at all, even on a passport, for there to be a description of gender. Cambridge is the first authority to have had a transgendered Mayor and several councillors.

I would be interested to know how many people with gender identity issues look in at this blog – as the Government is now committed to a Transgender Action Plan and information from the Trans community will be key to that plan. For those who don’t want to publish on a blog – please feel free to contact me more privately.

I read one blog piece from one member of that community who was clearly following the debate. I’ve pasted this below from one of Julian Huppert’s constituents.

It’s nice to see an MP who one voted for doing some positive work on issues that affect you, even if that positive work is having to defend the possibly well intentioned but certainly badly thought out actions of the new opposition. You’d think Meg Hillier, having proposed an amendment to the bill scrapping ID cards relating to transgender people, (Specifically, New Clause 3) might have done some basic research on the issue. Clearly she had not and neither had her colleague, Julie Hilling, before also speaking in support of the clause. They were, to my mind, rather unprepared for the somewhat better researched responses from Lynne Featherstone MP, Equalities Minister, and Dr.Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge. (My local MP)

The amendment was to keep ID cards for transgendered people for a period as, according to Ms. Millier, it’s the “only document that could be given to someone in an acquired identity without a gender recognition certificate”. As anyone that’s been through the process knows, this is nonsense. In regards to passports, the United Kingdom Passport Service will issue a new passport if you can produce medical proof that you are transitioning. This new passport will have the appropriate name, photo and gender marker. In my case, this took around three weeks mostly because I had not enclosed my original birth certificate but Dr. Huppert makes reference to another of his constituents who managed to get a passport in 5 days.

I was particularly pleased that Dr. Huppert went on to suggest that we simply remove gender markers from ID documents. This is, in my mind, a much more satisfactory solution to the problem for a much wider group of people, for example anyone neutrios that rejects any particular binary gender identity, than having to carry two ID cards. Indeed, as he points out, if it is only transgender people that have valid ID cards, the mere act of producing an ID card outs oneself.

Labour went on to try to push for a government consultation on the issue. This appears to be a rather poor attempt to save face on their part as the only issue is one they tried to construct in their own minds without conducting the most basic research.

118 thoughts on “Trans identity

  1. There is a need for dual identity in many instances. Not all transgender persons will permanently change gender. Many for example, during the transition period, may at various points need to present in their birth and acquired gender. Some may decide to remain dual gendered. Let’s not forget there is a larger number of transgender persons who are probably not transsexual who regularly present in their acquired gender. Legislation has not been that forthcoming in providing legal protection. It is important that this message is understood more widely since it covers much larger numbers of persons.

  2. hi derbyswoman

    I apologise with the incorrect assumption.

    The point is I have transitioned but not gained a grc as I have to divorce first.

    Correct me if I am wrong but you seem to be saying I can marry but someone of the opposite gender and not my long term partner.

    i hear what you say in your last paragraph but this seems to jar with the first.

    kind regards anyway.


  3. I thought it might be of interest to point out that we determined some while ago in the Parliamentary Forum on Gender Identity that the international convention governing passport data actually allows for three gender designations, M, F and X.

    This obviously isn’t generally known and the Passport Agency in the UK doesn’t use the X.

    The origin of the X has nothing to do with trans or inter sex people. It was simply a pragmatic historical feature from the gradual harmonisation of passports internationally .. They didn’t all have gender details. It’s possible therefore that the X designation could not be made available for travellers who don’t wish to convey their gender .. Unless requirements from the US Department of Homeland Security have since closed that door.

  4. The issues around transgender are very complex and the decision and consultation must be with them, however I have never thought it good to be singled out when dealing with equality issues it can lead to discrimination of one way or another but would find it intersting to hear what others think.

  5. Hi Christina

    Many trans people just wish to disappear into the population and just get on with living and thus may then not require much special protection. Alas, many are ‘trapped’ as transsexuals due to the lack of mechanisms to allow them to finish all aspects of transition and move on. It is very stressful being a married trans person, unable to obtain gender recognition, and live an in-between existence. Government policy is causing distress and may actually damaging people’s mental health and yet the problem drags on and on.

    The issues certainly are complex for those without GR. Government must take action to deal with the current two-tier system introduced by the GRA.

    Discrimination against the broader transgender spectrum must be recognised as a symptom of the problem and this is public ignorance, fuelled by rags such as the Daily Mail. Education is key and start with the youngsters but it will be a long haul. Where are the trans role models in public life?

    My experience is that government will do yet another round of research/consultation and then ignore the real concerns of trans people because to address these will be a fundamental challenge to the Establishment. Anybody who has been involved in the EHRC Triennial Review may understand my concern.

  6. Five days since this blog and silence since.

    Thank g*d the coalition hasn’t come up with any new mad policies for Lynne to justify to us and blame on Labour/Haringey/Martians whilst extolling the virtues of all things Lynne and LB Dem in that order.

    Oh well I am off to set up a health consultancy company.

  7. It makes a lot of sense to remove sex classification from official documents. Please can we avoid the absurd use of words like “transition” as a a verb.

  8. oxford dictionary

    “undergo or cause to undergo a process or period of transition : ( trans )”

    Although used mainly in the states, we are using a global language. I have been through a period of transition and it certainly was not absurd.


  9. I believe that we are stuck with ‘transition’ for the foreseeable future until the arrival of the brave new gender neutral world.

    However, Dr Huppert’s comment in the House, about not recoding sex in government ID is a very good one.

    I explored this topic with one of the Ministries this week, at a consultation event. To my surprise, they are going to think about it. Alas they had no idea of the issues that the trans person has in the context of that department’s function. They are geared up to those with GR but the situation for those that do not (that do not qualify because of a marriage) requires some definition.

  10. Lynne

    I’m really sorry but it wouldn’t work. I just don’t think we are compatible.

    PS I might even consider answering if you had answered any of the questions I have asked you.

  11. YOU use the word courage! You make me angry a lot of the time – but you also make me laugh. This is a blog – do you think Mr Bubblebath really is Mr Bubblebath? What you need to take from the remarks made is whether people generally agree with you or not and then adjust your actions so they better reflect the wishes of your constituents.

    But I totally agree on having the courage of your convictions – please convene the public meeting we have been asking for and we’ll all turn out to face you. Here’s my first question: Do you share the sentiments of the leader of the LibDems in Liverpool who says he feels ‘physically sick’ at what he is being asked to do by his Party?

  12. Well I feel suitably told off. And demoted to a lower level than an alleged rapist.

  13. Lynne, you are an experienced blogger. Almost nobody uses their full real name when commenting on a blog; the tradition is to use a pseudonym. You must know this. I find it faintly sinister that you are asking a critic of your policies to reveal his identity on here.

  14. Perhaps he used to be a friend of yours? There are probably quite a lot of people in that category.

  15. And Helen – I do take note of what people say – but it is not the only feedback I receive.

    The responses on here on my post on trans identity have been very informative and helpful. Thanks to all who contributed.

  16. Ok…let’s play nice. I think Lynne is on our side. Thus putting her into the 1% of politicians who frankly give a shit. How many other MPs blogs do you know where this debate is even taking place?

  17. Such a shame that an informed and serious discussion on trans issue gets highjacked onto other subjects and other agendas. This is an opportunity for informing on trans matters to someone who has the power to do good for this community. After all, there are other politicians out there who are ill informed and have a somewhat negative and stereotypical image of the community roughly equivalent to the standards of the Daily Mail or Sun. Please lets keep to the point of this blog.

  18. I like what Lynne is saying.

    As i mentioned before it is great to have someone representing our side, in the government who knows and understands trans issues.

    I would love someone to address the issue of id, grc with marriage and trans care.

    Unfortunately my pct is reviewing our trans care pathways at the moment and have been for nearly a year. That show long we have all been on hold for. Their must be getting some desperate people out their.

    This tied in with that pPCTs are losing their control I find very worrying. How long will it be until the new system is bedded in. For those with GID this can be only worrying times.


  19. stephanie said

    Yes, it seems so thus how best to turn that understanding into action?

    Many of the issues are now well understood and we should be in the solution phase!

    Why not be bold and work with the trans community to produce the trans action plan now (before this Christmas and not before the next!)?

    Alas, many in the so called trans community have participated in workshops with GEO/EHRC over the last year to identify problems and solutions yet this information is never acted upon. Why are there so-called research studies let by government to identify and report on trans issues given to academic and other ‘non qualified’ organisations when government has all the trans expertise it requires already identified?

    Form a team with us – set up sub teams to address specific issue – definition and solution options. If government demonstrates that it considers trans equality and issues important then this will send a clear message to all that it takes all equality seriously.

  20. I agree with Stephanie’s comments. There has been a lot of consultation. One of the disappointments though with the Equalities Bill with respect to the Trans community, was that it was very focussed on Transsexual persons and seemed to exclude the broarder and larger Trans population who may not change gender permanently. I believe Lynne is fully aware of this (having read the recent ID committee papers) and there is an opportunity to be more inclusive in interpreting the Act.

    I would like to add my comments on removing gender markers. I cannot see how that helps if you have different first names and different appearances depending upon whether you are presenting in your female or in your male gender. Passports and driving licenses in partciular have photos on them and I, for one, look totally different as a female than as a male.

  21. Hi Lynne

    Following my (Paula’s!) comment about working with the trans community , I attended the Equality and Diversity Forum meeting in London this morning. Marc Verlot of EHRC was resent and talked about the Big Society concept.

    Afterwards I put to him the concept of working with the trans community, embedded in EHRC teams, to identify solutions rather than yet more studies and consultation (that seems to be ignored). I put it to him that many in the trans community had lost faith in EHRC as it always seems to ignore any issues related to bad law that impact the trans community.

    He took this on board but I expect that this fits into ‘too difficult question category’!

    We have a golden opportunity to see if Big Society will be trans inclusive.

  22. I’m really in favor of having no gender on anything where it’s actually irrelevant- ie ID cards. If it does need to have gender then I really don’t get why it can’t just be changed with passports or where in the hell this two card idea came from- it’s absurd.

  23. Hi Name

    Removing gender markers from passports and driving licenses. How does that help if the photograph and name remain? The optional (and I stress the word optional) 2 IDs in each gender was very helpful for those transitioning or dual gendered where there is a need to show ID in the birth and acquired gender. It was a very flexible approach and it would be so helpful if the same could be extended to documents which show a photograph. I somehow feel that my views are being conveniently ignored. Even with the gender markers removed, there would still be a need in some cases for 2 documents, one with male name and male photograph, one with female name and female photograph

  24. Gillian;

    you make some very valid points, we could consider having ID where people can have the option of two photos and two (or more) names, but obviously this may still mean outing yourself when you do not want to, so it comes back to having two sets of documents for people who are not transitioning but who have two identities.

    I think cis society in general finds this idea very difficult to accept, so making this sort of thing happen would be a major step forward, in terms of acceptance and recognition of non-binary identities.

    This is also one of the reasons why I am advocating (and not just me, Gayle Salamon in Princeton, who is a kind of protege of Judith Butler is a big supporter of this idea also) that we privatise gender identity. Right now, the state owns our gender identity, the state talls us what gender we are, we have to go cap in hand to the state if we wish to change our gender identities.

    If we could privatise gender identity so that we told the state (but only where necessary) our sex or gender identity that would be a much more sensible and fair system.

  25. I dont think two identities are needed, you have one gender, one form of identity. As a transsexuals, i am post op, i obtained my passport, driving licence etc and managed to live my life, even without a GRC for several years. It would seem that those who want to use the word transgender do so as they are denial of the facts they like to pretend to be the opposite gender. I have no issues without you dressing whatever way you want but to start demanding two identities just to keep you happy is silliness.

    We inhabit this planet with many forms of life and these other life forms manage with male, female, some hermaphrodites and some of even change gender. I dont see any that flits between genders. I do not see those who dress up as the opposite gender, part time, as in anyway different to those who dress up to re-enact battles, Goths, Punks, whatever. We dont see them demanding several forms of identity. Why do you believe you are so special?

    If you are outed, so what? I have had to face being outed numerous times since i went 24/7, its part of life, get over it. No one who has a penis should be allowed to a female form of identification. Only after gender reassignment should identification be changed as your genitals reflect your new gender. The road of transition is not meant to be easy so that only those who are truly transsexual get through and help reduce the numbers of those who make a mistake and then sue the NHS.

  26. Hopefully I can head this off before it descends into a TG vs. TS slanging match…


    I think the discussion about “can one person have two IDs” is one that needs to be had, (Personally, I prefer either the removal of gender markers or “privatising gender identity” concept that Natasha mentions above) but there are a there’s a number of statements in your post that are probably going to result in unproductive conflict. It’s widely accepted that post-operative status isn’t a good discriminator of gender, for example. (e.g. Many intersex individuals who transition, people who can’t afford or are not medically fit for surgery etc) That’s even ignoring neutrois folk and probably a whole raft of other people I’ve forgotten about. I don’t believe it’s helpful to (re)open that debate in this forum.

  27. kalkoura

    i have never heard such a ignorant opinion from a trans person.

    You seem not to understand or care or maybe you have forgotten in your new cis identity the hurt you would giving to transgendered people with these remarks.

    What is between your legs is so not related to ones internal gender, rather as is often said it is what is between your ears that is important.

    I could say not a lot in your case but I would not dream of being so rude.


  28. Kaikoura;

    I think your post completely misses the point. You are protected by anti-discrimination legislation. I am not.

    I also find your sweeping generalisation that one identity is enough, to be offensive and I take it as a deliberate provocation. You demonstrate an “I’m all right Jack” attitude which appalls me and which will, I am sure appall most people reading this. Just because something is OK for you it has to be OK for everyone else. All trans people have to be just like you…

    I have been fighting against the restrictive idea that there can be only one way to be male or female which most transphobes seem to have. You seem to be holding the same view as them. There are a whole load of different ways in which people can be trans; just because people don’t fit into Kaikoura’s way of doing things does not mean that they are any less human, any less trans or any less deserving of support.

    Your narrow-minded and bigoted approach simply ignores other people’s legitimate existence.

    When you state “If you are outed, so what? I have had to face being outed numerous times since i went 24/7, its part of life, get over it. No one who has a penis should be allowed to a female form of identification. Only after gender reassignment should identification be changed as your genitals reflect your new gender.” it is as bigoted and pathetic as anything I have seen from transphobes like Bindel or Raymond.

    Your idea that genitals = gender is utterly hypocritical, not to mention downright ignorant. There are plenty of transphobic bigots out there who would also argue that YOU should not be entitled to new gender ID since your chromasomes, reproductive organs and early life experiences do not match your intended gender. As a transperson you have shown yourself to be profoundly hypocritical and your dismissive attitude of anyone who doesn’t fit in with the way you define trans is selfish beyond words.

  29. Stephanie

    I do not recognise cis identity or all these other concocted labels, drafted up by people to make themselves seem different or interesting eg gender queer. I have had gender reassignment surgery and i am a female. Before that, i was a male. What is difficult to understand about that?

    Females do not have penises, males do not have vaginas. To suggest otherwise is idiotic and against mother nature. What if someone comes along and says they are a tree or a dog? Do we accept this just because their brain says so? No i dont think so.

  30. So you have changed your genitals. What about your genes and your dna and lack of womb etc etc etc. you seem to be saying gender is decided on your body. What about when you were pre op did you feel less female inside then now.

    It is not the physical aspects of our bodies that decide our gender but rather who we feel we are. i can not believe I am having to explain this to someone who is trans. you are obviously a fake with such bigoted views.

  31. Stephanie,
    I am closer to being a female than any transgender person as i have a vagina. I know for a fact i will be welcomed into female changing rooms in gyms, shops and swimming pools because i dont have a bulge.

    So what happens if you Stephanie decide you are a tree? No physical attributes as a tree but its what you feel. Should society accommodate you and plant you in a forest? What happens if someone cuts you down for firewood? I am sure you be crying for help then.

    A stupid comparison you may think but is it? At the end of the day your telling me that the brain rules and that physical attributes dont matter.

  32. I am not transphobic just because i do not agree with you Natacha. You arrogantly seem to think you are always right. Your hypothesis is purely based on self interest. You only care about changing the world to suit you.

    What if you get your own way and then someone else says they are transgender but are really a rapist or a paedophile (after all they still have a functioning penis). Dont say that wont happen because there are some rapists and paedophiles out there who will try that. Its one of the main concerns shown in the US against the ‘bathroom bill’ as they call it.

    What you are advocating Natacha is actually detrimental and harmful to the TS community. By suggesting that people can flit about between genders could end up with the removal of surgical intervention for TS’s. The NHS could turn round and say TG people who can live without surgery, have female identification even though they have a penis, and suggest TS’s do the same. You have no interest in TS’s and ensuring we get the treatment we desperately need.

    You are the one with the ‘I am alright Jack attitude’ because you suggest that we can live with two genders. This nonsense could mean many more TS’s end up committing suicide because funding for surgery could be stopped or cut. I doubt you care because you always have your male gender to fall back upon. If any one is selfish Natacha it is you, because you want the world to change just because you say so.

  33. i will not lower myself anymore to answer such tripe, ill informed bigoted arguments.

  34. Kaikoura;

    you really are a hypocrite. You have got the laws which protect you and stuff anyone else. What you are sayoing is that your gender expression is more important than mine.

    That makes you a bigot in my mind and a particularly ill-informed bigot at that. People like you are a verty good illustration of why Lynne Featherstone is campaigning for the inclusion of all trans people in anti-discrimonation legislation.

    You ARE transphobic, very transphobic. It is not about whether you agree with me or not it is pure and simple bigotry on your part. YOU are telling ME how I should live my life. That is bigotry.

    Like Stephanie, I will not lower myself any more to dealing with such garbage from you. You are clearly a particularly selfish individual with severe personality problems which I suspect only only professional intervention can deal with.

  35. I have never understood the fragmentation of the transgender community and I am saddened to see such a public airing of criticism. By definition, not everyone on the transgender spectrum is the same and some may transition over a longer time scale, others may live permanently in their acquired gender but not have surgery, others like myself live in both genders. If we are genuinely interested in addressing equality for all minorities, then there is no point having a swipe at one minority, to gain some victory for another. What Lynne needs is a cohesive approach. I am very grateful for the achievements by organisations such as Press for Change which historically was addressing the major issues for transsexual persons. Surely the hand of friendship can be extended across the whole community. What is there to lose?

  36. On the subject of legislation to protect all trans people from discrimination, there are quite a few countries where this is the case. Sweden is one of them. I was there just before Christmas and all trans people were very happy with this; protecting all trans people did not result in reduced protection for any particular group, indeed the feeling was that everyone was better off, and trans people generally much better accepted and better treated as a result.

    As Prof. Stephen Whittle made clear during his presentation in Manchester recently, transphobic bigots discriminate against trans people without knowing what their genitals look like…

  37. This is a very important issue, for a lot of people it is surrounded by ignorance and prejudice. THe issue for me is how do we break this, it takes resources, time effort and money.

    The issue now is how are we going to practically achieve our objectives.

  38. Dear Lynne

    My name is Joanna Rowland-Stuart and I am the Transgender Officer of PCS Proud – the self organising LGBT forum of the Public and Commercial Services Union.

    We met (briefly!) at the TUC LGBT conference following your speech – I was the blonde lady who caught your attention as you were walking to the exit from the podium down through the rows of delegates.

    I wanted to ask you a question on Gender Identity, on the requirement imposed by the Gender Recognition Act for couples to dissolve their legal relationship prior to one or both obtaining a GRC.

    I have both a personal and professional interest in this (I am an Equality and Diversity Adviser in the Civil Service), as this seems to discriminate against trans people. No other members of a minority group are asked to dissolve their relationships in order to obtain equity in law.

    I am a trans woman, as is my partner. We have been living as women for ten years, and have been together for nine years, and civil partners for four. Neither of us wishes to dissolve our civil partnership but we both want legal recognition of our gender. Both of us have passports and driving licences in our acquired gender. Our Civil Partnership certificate states that we are male 😦

    Even should we wish to dissolve our civil partnership to obtain Gender Recognition Certificates we are faced by further barriers – because should we fail to carefully synchronise the issuing of our interim GRC, we could find ourselves having to dissolve our CP when the first interim GRC arrives, enter into a civil marriage (as we would legally be of opposite gender), dissolve the marriage when the second interim GRC arrives and then form a new CP! The alternative would be to wait for both interim GRC to be issued – without the protection of a legally recognised relationship – and interim GRC have a limited validity.

    Please – when will the Government cease pandering to the more hysterical outbursts from the Lords Spiritual and certain of the Lords Temporal, and allow equality for all by instituting gender-neutral civil marriage?

    Joanna Rowland-Stuart

  39. Hi Joanna

    I discussed the specific case of two in a legal relationship seeking GR, with the MoJ, 18 months ago. It is therefore well aware (and dismissive) of the nonsense that you both face to get legal recognition of your rights.

    I was specifically told by senior staff responsible for the GRA ‘that it was perfect the way that it is but it is just misunderstood’.

    The civil partnership eligibility states
    (1) Two people are not eligible to register as civil partners of each other if—
    (a) they are not of the same sex

    It does not state that your civil partnership becomes invalid if (having been legally registered) should one party assumes a different gender.

    Similar considerations apply to marriage – s. 11(c) of the Matrimonial Causes Act provides that a valid marriage can be entered into only by a male and a female.

    It was the GRA that introduced the difficulties. The easy solution is to amend the GRA and have the award of recognition based on the application alone. No primary legislation required?

    In doing this, it would also pave the way for a gender neutral civil marriage allowing church marriage to be defined by those organisations.

  40. Joanna

    Please let us know her response. Hopefully she might post it here?

    If the ‘Timbrell’ judgment stands, the government’s position on same sex marriage will be in a total shambles.

    The judge recognised that Ms Timbrell was a (post op) woman and had acquired a woman’s rights under pension legislation but her marriage prevented her from obtaining a GRC. Thus her marriage was still valid and clearly same sex yet she had rights as a woman (that also applied after the GRA).

    The same logic should apply to a trans woman in a civil partnership on reaching 60.

    Instead of tinkering with the symptoms of the problem (such as allowing civil partnerships to be religious (and that would not be simple!)), the cause of our problems must be dealt with – the failure of relationship law to deal with the different issues of sex and gender and sexual orientation.

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  44. I can’t promise to deliver everything everyone has raised – but I can promise to try and resolve as much as possible and get as much on the agenda as I can.

  45. Lynne

    That is exactly what many in the trans community want to hear!

    I know that without the support of Evan Harris and Lynne Jones things will be difficult. I do hope that there is a way in which The House, in general, could better understand trans issues.

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