Thank you for contacting me about the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA).
I am committed to protecting women’s rights and freedoms. That is why I am pleased that the Government recognises the importance of the protection of single-sex spaces, as provided for in the Equality Act.
The Equality Act 2010 not only protects transgender people from discrimination, but also makes it clear that providers have the right to restrict use of spaces on the basis of sex, and exclude transgender people, with or without a Gender Recognition Certificate, if this is justified.
The Equality Act allows service providers to offer services to one sex only, for example men’s or women’s toilets or changing rooms. Transgender people can be excluded from single-sex facilities if service providers have a legitimate reason for doing so and if exclusion is the least discriminatory way to proceed. This position is unchanged since 2010.
I will continue to monitor the effectiveness of existing legislation and procedures in protecting the sex-based rights of women and girls.
My colleagues in the Government Equalities Office have, over recent years, looked at the gender recognition process, including considering potential changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004. After careful consideration, it is their view that this existing legislation strikes the right balance between ensuring there are proper checks and balances in the system and ensuring there is support in place for people who want to change their legal sex.
On the basis of responses to the consultation the Government carried out it concluded that changes were needed to improve the process and experience transgender people have when applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). When responding to the National LGBT survey, transgender people highlighted two key obstacles in the process: bureaucracy and cost. Ministers decided to address these concerns, with the entire procedure moving online and the existing £140 fee being reduced to £5. This fee reduction is already in effect and I understand that the Government's Equality Hub is working at speed to move the application process online, with more details to be set out in due course. I know that the Government wants to ensure that applying for a GRC is as straightforward and dignified as possible, and I am confident these changes will make a noticeable difference to the transgender people who use the system.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP