Transgender rights | British doctors back easier gender identity change

The British Medical Association (BMA) has backed the right of transgender and non-binary people to self-identify. The affirming decision was taken on Tuesday at the BMA’s annual conference.

At the moment, any individual who wishes to amend their legal gender identity in the UK has to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria by a doctor. This perpetuates the idea that transgender or non-binary people suffer from a mental health condition.

“This process currently requires doctors to determine whether somebody’s transition is ‘valid’, requiring them to produce lengthy and costly reports about the life and medical history of transgender people to be sent off to an opaque committee which never meets the individual in person. As doctors, we should take no part in such a process,” said Grace Allport, from BMA northwest regional council.

The BMA’s position is that this onerous procedure should be dropped and that those impacted should simply produce a sworn, witnessed statement affirming their gender identity. This policy is already in place in countries like Ireland, Norway, Argentina and Portugal.

The BMA also urged the government to ensure the rights of transgender and non-binary individuals in accessing healthcare, including enabling trans people to receive healthcare and access to gendered spaces in line with the gender they identify with.

The association further called for trans awareness to become an integral part of medical training to ensure an awareness of the needs of these patients.

“The BMA supports transgender and nonbinary individuals’ equal rights to live their lives with dignity which includes the right to equal access to healthcare,” said Dr Helena McKeown, Chair of the BMA. “We oppose discrimination of all kinds and are committed to ensuring universal access to healthcare for all on the basis of clinical need.”

Meanwhile, 136 companies – including BP, Disney, Google and Microsoft – have signed a public statement supporting trans equality in the UK. They’ve called on the government to protect trans people’s rights and reform the Gender Recognition Act to make it easier for them to legally change their gender.

“At a time when trans rights feel increasingly under threat, the diversity of all these businesses taking part today shows there is a wealth of support for trans people at the most senior levels of British industrial and cultural life,” said Nancy Kelley, Chief Executive, of LGBTQ group Stonewall.

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