The government has officially ditched plans to allow transgender people to self-identify, two years after it launched a public consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act (GRA).
Publishing the long-delayed results of the consultation on Tuesday (22 September), Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss announced that the current system requiring a medical diagnosis - a process long-criticised as invasive and overlong by trans people - will remain in place.
"It is the Government’s view that the balance struck in this legislation is correct, in that there are proper checks and balances in the system and also support for people who want to change their legal sex", Truss said.
Currently, trans people in the UK must apply to a panel to have their gender recognised, and supply two reports from a doctor and psychologist stating they have 'gender dysphoria'.
In some countries, such as Ireland, which reformed its own gender identity laws in 2015, transgender people are able to determine their own identity.
In her statement on Tuesday, Truss said self-ID was "not the top priority for transgender people", and instead announced plans to move the gender recognition process online and the cut the personal cost from £140 to a "nominal fee".
The minister also pointed to the opening of three new gender identity clinics this year as evidence of the government's commitment to improving NHS waiting times for trans people.
LGBTQ rights charity Stonewall branded Tuesday's widely expected climbdown a "shocking failure in leadership".
Nancy Kelley, Stonewall, Chief Executive said: "Today, the UK Government has fallen far short on its promise to reform the Gender Recognition Act, and has missed a key opportunity to progress LGBT equality.
"It’s a shocking failure in leadership that after three years and a robust public consultation, the UK Government has put forward only minimal administrative changes to improve the process for legal gender recognition of trans people in England and Wales.
"While these moves will make the current process less costly and bureaucratic, they don’t go anywhere near far enough toward meaningfully reforming the Act to make it easier for all trans people to go about their daily life.
"All trans people deserve to be respected for who they are. Reforming the Act could have brought England and Wales in line with our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland, who have had a de-medicalised, self-determination system for gender recognition since 2015 without any problematic repercussions.
!The Government’s own response states that a strong majority of people who responded to the consultation supported these reforms. And just last week the British Medical Association called on the Government to allow trans people to be recognised for who they are without a medical diagnosis.
"So, we share the frustration and disappointment of trans people and allies who have campaigned and fought hard for GRA reform over the last few years."