The UK will lower the age for trans people to be recognized legally to 16
Released today (14 January), the Transgender Equality Inquiry Report makes more than 30 recommendations. Among them is recommending for the age for when trans people are allowed to obtain a gender recognition certificate. When the GRC was brought into effect in 2005, it was 18. The report suggests lowering it to 16.

The majority of countries that allow legal transition is either 18 or 21.

‘For some young people the decision regarding gender recognition is straightforward; for some it is not. It is important that clear safeguards are in place to ensure that long-term decisions about gender recognition are made at an appropriate time,’ the report reads. ‘Subject to this caveat, a persuasive case has been made to us in favor of reducing the minimum age at which application can be made for gender recognition. We recommend that provision should be made to allow 16- and 17-year-olds, with appropriate support, to apply for gender recognition, on the basis of self-declaration.’

The government said they were ‘very cautious’ about recommending gender recognition in respect of children aged under 16 (subject to parental consent or self-declaration on a case-by-case basis) and believe there should be further consideration to the possible risks. Helen Belcher, from Trans Media Watch, told Gay Star News: ‘People are now recongizing that trans people often know they are trans from an early age.

‘Reducing the age to 16 is a welcome step, although we do need to think seriously about what impact not allowing a trans child of, say, 13 to say what gender they are going to have. Studies are now showing that earlier studies, saying the children often changed their mind, are flawed. We shouldn’t be basing our laws on flawed evidence.’

The UK government’s first inquiry also found laws must be changed to include non-binary people as well as tackling problems in the NHS and prison system.

However, some have said it does not go far enough. The UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group said the Home Office is failing to treat trans asylum seekers with dignity and respect, with this not mentioned in the report. Paul Dillane, executive of the UKLGIG, said: ‘Too many trans asylum seekers experience ignorance and humiliation in our asylum system, are wrongly refused protection due to poor decisions-making and unfairly incarcerated in immigration detention centres where bullying, abuse and harassment is rife.

‘Their exclusion from this inquiry is regrettable and we have written to Maria Miller MP, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, to request our serious concerns be addressed.’

The committee report called on the government to agree a new strategy for transgender equality within the next six months.