TUC commits to self-declared gender

Britain’s trade unions have urged the government to let trans people change their legal gender more easily.

The TUC annual congress in Manchester decided to campaign for a much simpler, and free method of changing legal gender.

At the moment the law requires fees, forms and the involvement of doctors. The TUC called that system “lengthy, intrusive, humiliating and not fit for purpose”.

Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary

prejudice and discrimination

Until 19th October the government are gathering opinions on how to reform the Gender Recognition Act. That’s the law which is what sets out the rules on gender change that are in force now.

“Trans people face physical and verbal abuse, prejudice and discrimination, marginalisation and misrepresentation”, the TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady told the conference.

“Unions have worked hard in recent years to provide practical support and guidance for reps and trans members, and I know unions’ commitment to this work will continue.”

Jenny Harvey speaking to the TUC conference

red tape nightmare

Jenny Harvey of the public services’ union Unison also spoke in favour of the change.

“I transitioned back in 2005 … in that time we have seen much progress and we welcomed the introduction of the gender recognition act in 2004, but the time is now right to reform and improve”.

“The current process for legal gender recognition is a humiliating and expensive red tape nightmare.

“It requires us to submit intrusive psychiatric evidence to a faceless tribunal panel years after we have transitioned”.

support the right to safe spaces

The TUC motion also tried to reassure the most vocal critics of any planned change to the law.

Much of the campaign against reform centres on access to toilets and other women-only spaces. Safety issues are raised as reasons not to make changes.

So the TUC agreed to “support the right of all women (including trans women) to safe spaces”.


Amnesty International strongly welcomed the TUC decision to campaign for a simpler law.

Their Trade Union Campaigner, Shane Enright called it “an important step forward for trans people’s rights in the workplace and in wider society”.

Picture Credits: TUC Congress hall, TUC. Frances O’Grady, TUC. Jenny Harvey, from Jenny Harvey’s Twitter with permission.


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