Transgender people will no longer be required to produce medical evidence in order to change their gender on their passport, the government has announced.
As part of a move towards allowing transgender people to ‘self-declare’ their chosen gender, Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) has announced that they will no longer require a doctor’s letter as part of a package of evidence required in order to change the stated gender on a person’s passport. Instead, in line with a change of name, people will only have to produce documents showing their gender of choice.
The change came in response to transgender activists who argued that having to produce a doctors’ letter was offensive, as it made people feel as though they were being treated as though they had a mental illness.
A spokesman for HMPO said: “At present, a person is required to produce a doctor’s letter before they can change the gender which is shown in their passport. HMPO will extend the range of supporting documentation that can be used by an applicant to demonstrate use of their gender of choice in their daily life,” the Daily Mail has reported.
The spokesman continued: “This will mirror the approach adopted for passport applicants who wish to change their name.”
The Government has also been examining which official documents should drop the requirement to record gender, they said, adding: “An administrative process must be developed, centred on the wishes of the individual applicant, rather than on intensive analysis by doctors and lawyers.”
The move comes as part of a slew of changes instigated by the Minister for Women and Equalities, Nicky Morgan, who has also ordered a review of the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
As part of the review, the government is considering how it can remove “unnecessary” requests for gender information, including in legal documents, and cut “red tape” to make changing gender a more streamlined process “fit for the 21st century”.
NHS staff and universities are to undergo training to help them better support transgender people and tackle bullying and harassment of transgender people.
The government also aims to quantify the size of the transgender population in a bid to better understand the community, and will for the first time be including questions on public attitudes towards transgendered people within the British Social Attitudes Survey.
Commenting on the changes, Nicky Morgan said: “No-one should have to face discrimination or live in fear because of who they are. We must set the pace on this agenda and lead the way in better understanding and supporting our trans people. That’s why I am delighted to announce that we will be reviewing the Gender Recognition Act – helping overturn an outdated system and ensure the transgender person’s needs are at the heart of the process.
“It’s fantastic to see trans issues increasingly on the public agenda. But we still don’t know enough – that’s why we are going to work with transgender people to understand more about the issues facing them.”
Her colleague, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Family Justice, Caroline Dinenage added: “To really achieve equality, we have to provide equal support and pay equal attention to the needs of all LGB&T groups.
“That’s why today’s announcement is so important. By reviewing the legal process of changing your gender, rethinking when and why we collect gender information, and working with the transgender community to better understand the problems they face, we take another vital step towards achieving true equality for transgender people.”