GRA consultation question 20

Question 20: Do you think that there need to be changes to the Gender Recognition Act to accommodate individuals who identify as non-binary?


The purpose of the Gender Recognition Act was to permit transsexual people to marry without legalising same-sex marriage in general, and to protect the privacy of transsexual people. Both of these aims were in response to rulings at the European Court of Human Rights.

Now that same-sex marriage has been legalised, this aspect of the Act is entirely redundant.

I think a person who identifies as non-binary cannot have the same expectation of privacy as a person who seeks to be recognised legally and socially as a member of the opposite sex. Identifying as non-binary is a fundamentally different proposition from seeking to join an existing grouping that is widely understood and recognised in society. It is the creation of an entirely new concept of gender, which is unrelated to a person’s biological sex.

As such, a non-binary person will necessarily have to state their gender identity in every situation. They cannot (and do not) expect people to assume a non-binary identity by looking at the way they dress or wear their hair. This is the whole point of identifying as non-binary.

The GRA is therefore not an appropriate mechanism for recognising non-binary identities, even if this were desirable. As outlined in my answer to question 19, I do not think the law should codify a philosophy about sex and gender which is far from widely accepted.

I would support the removal of mandatory title fields on many official forms. I think this would benefit people of both sexes. Where relevant, I think people’s sex should be recorded, but there is often no need to ask about someone’s “gender identity” at all.

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