34.Submission from Kay Nicholson
I have a number of concerns relating to this
Bill and I would be very grateful if the Committee could consider
The publication of this Draft Bill is to be
welcomed, it is reassuring that the Government has kept its commitment
to provide legislation to give legal recognition to Transsexual
people. Having said that there are a number of areas that do not
provide for the full needs of Transsexual People, and in fact
will continue to distress them.
Many of these areas are complex and I am sure
will be fully addressed by other individuals and organisations
more qualified to do so than I am. Some of the comments that I
wish to be considered are relevant to me personally, and others
are derived from my experiences as a Counsellor working with people
who have issues over Gender.
1. Paragraph 1 of Schedule 2 requires the
Registrar General to maintain a register to be called the Transsexual
This does concern me deeply. The only register
I am aware of at present is that for Sex Offenders. I find it
very offensive that a condition of my being issued with a Gender
Registration Certificate is that I must accept to being placed
on any form of register. I feel sure that if registers were to
be proposed for people because of their colour, race, creed or
even sexual orientation that there would be a huge outcry.
I seem to remember that prior to the Corbett
v. Corbett (1970) case that for anyone who "changed their
sex" in those days, it was sufficient for the original Birth
Certificate to have some form of endorsement and a shortened version
of the birth certificate to show the newly acquired sex and new
name(s). To my mind this would be a simple solution that does
not require the setting up of a whole new, and presumably, electronic
To ensure privacy of the Transsexual person
is maintained endorsement should not be visible to anyone other
than the Registrar General. The original birth entry would remain.
There is no requirement for people who change their names by Deed
Poll or Statutory Declaration to register the fact, so why should
it be necessary for a Trans person to be registered just because
they have had their gender reassigned?
2. The Draft Bill does nothing to prevent
discrimination against Trans people where goods and services are
concerned. Just one personal example. Earlier this year I wished
to investigate alternative motor insurance policies, but because
it would be necessary for me to divulge my Trans status either
in person to a broker etc, or over the telephone to some clerk
I "chickened out". I do not know therefore if I could
have obtained a more competitive premium.
I am concerned that the Bill does not appear
to prevent any business from having a "No Transsexuals"
policy. If and when I may need it, possibly in the not too distant
future, am I going to be refused a place at a care home because
of my acquired gender? There are many other examples of how I
can be discriminated against to bore you with, I am sure that
others will give examples.
3. The Bill does not appear to have any
provision in it to extend the Sexual Discrimination Act 1975 to
provide protection against friends etc who accompany me when I
wish to purchase goods or services.
The above are concerns that affect me personally
to a greater or lesser degree, I would be most grateful if the
Committee could give very full consideration to the points that
I have raised.
4. In my role as a Counsellor and as a member
of various Trans organisations I meet people who talk to me about
their own personal problems. There is one area of the Draft Bill
that is causing very considerable distress.
This is the area of the Draft Bill concerning
existing marriages. I am personally acquainted with three such
married people and know of the circumstances of three more who
will be devastated if the proposed requirement stands.
A married couple who have gone through the whole
wretched process of Gender Reassignment will have been to "hell
and back" in the truest sense of that phrase. If they have
survived this very traumatic process and still want to stay married
then in all humanity they should be allowed to do so. To insist
that the couple have to divorce to enable the Trans person to
gain their Gender Recognition Certificate is cruel and, may I
say so, spiteful. The accepted estimate of the number of Transsexual
People in this country is given as about 5,000. Out of a population
of say 60 million that is a tiny, tiny number. Out of that 5,000
I would guess that there are probably less than a couple of hundred
who are still married. My plea is that the Committee does everything
in its power to protect these couples who are in loving and stable
relationships. After all this is a one off situation, it would
not be establishing a precedent of same sex marriages for the
future. We are talking only about those couples who are married
now, as once the Bill becomes law the problem will no longer exist.
I am sure that other individuals and organisations
will also be making the same plea so I will not go into any further
details of the pain and hurt that will be inflicted on Trans people
in existing marriages if the requirement to divorce is insisted
on. By forcing the Trans person to choose between staying married
to the person they love or gaining their Gender Recognition Certificate
must surely go against everything a liberal and humane society
After so many years in the wilderness, this
Bill is an incredible leap forward and without too many significant
changes would improve the lives of Transsexual people beyond our
wildest dreams for now and decades to come, and may even be an
example to other countries in the world.
10 September 2003