Joint Committee On Human Rights Written Evidence

46.Submission from Mrs W[62]

  I warmly welcome and support this bill.

  Hitherto, transgendered people, particularly those who were born transsexual, have suffered from bigotry and harassment and the infringement of human rights afforded to other citizens. They have been denied full participation in society and have had their medical condition incorrectly diagnosed as a lifestyle choice or mental illness.

  I am grateful to HM Government for bringing this bill forward and would like to thank all those who worked on its production. Affirmation of their full legal status will make a huge difference for transsexual people and will, it is hoped, allow them to live as full members of society, with the same rights of citizenship enjoyed by others. In addition, it is to be hoped that the proposed legislation will help to educate those areas of society which, for reasons pertaining to their own agenda, persist in denying the true nature of Transsexualism.

  Please be aware that there will be opposition to this Bill. Various church groups and others, who have little or no knowledge of the condition, will continue to argue that Transsexualism is a lifestyle choice and psychological in origin. This is completely untrue: there is much medical evidence, gathered over many years, to support the view that the condition is congenital. It is, alter all, but recently that such vociferous churches have acknowledged that epilepsy is not, as first thought, caused by possession of a devil but a congenital disorder of the brain. It is to be applauded that sufferers from this latter condition are now afforded medical treatment instead of largely being ostracised by society.

  I trust that this Bill will serve both to restore human rights to a minority of the population and also to assist with the enlightenment of those whose views are entrenched in dogma.

  I do, however, have two concerns. Firstly in respect of those who, like me, were persuaded that marriage would be a cure for Transsexualism, are still, for one reason or another, part of a legal relationship (even after transition to their chosen gender role) and who wish, for financial or other reasons, to maintain that relationship. The Bill indicates that HM Government are opposed to the recognition of change of gender for a married person, ie so that a "same sex"" marriage could occur. I am sure that potential hardship could be avoided if a means were to be found such that a relationship of this nature could have appropriate legal recognition, not necessarily to be called a marriage. Perhaps it might be possible to incorporate some suitable solution into the proposed interim Gender Recognition Certificate. It is unfair to insist that partners, who may have financial and/or emotional ties, should incur the legal expense and exposure to potentially crippling taxation which forced divorce would inevitably bring.

  For my part I was persuaded in 1968, by a NHS psychiatrist, that marriage would cure me of Transsexualism. It failed and resulted in a marriage, in name only, which has lasted 32 years. After two subsequent periods of denial, I inevitably came to the conclusion that there was no appropriate way forward for me other than transition to the female role, an event which took place some 14 months ago. I am, I consider, a better adjusted person and can contribute to society in ways that were not previously possible. I am still, however, legally married (although we no longer live together) and my spouse is wholly dependent on me financially and substantially dependent emotionally. Divorce could adversely affect her right to a spouse's pension from my erstwhile employer and the legal costs involved could be financially crippling to me and eat into that money which should be available to provide for our retirement.

  Secondly, I would also request and urge that a transsexual person be a full member of the Gender Recognition Panel, or at least in an advisory capacity. It seems totally inappropriate that the panel could potentially consist wholly of persons with little or no experience in the field.

29 August 2003

62   The author of this memorandum provided their name and address but asked for them not to be printed.


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