JK Rowling has said that a cis man who does not intend to have surgery or take hormone treatment can live as a woman in the UK under the Gender Recognition Act – but this is not true.
The Harry Potter author made this claim, and many more, in a lengthy essay posted on her own website one 10 June.
In the essay, Rowling claimed that the “current explosion of trans activism is urging a removal of almost all the robust systems through which candidates for sex reassignment were once required to pass”.
She added: “A man who intends to have no surgery and take no hormones may now secure himself a Gender Recognition Certificate and be a woman in the sight of the law. Many people aren’t aware of this.”
JK Rowling is incorrect in her claims about the Gender Recognition Act.
Rowling’s claim is disingenuous and incorrect.
For a trans person to be legally recognised in their gender, they must submit an application to the Gender Recognition Panel to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate.
As part of the application process, trans people are required to provide a medical report from a doctor detailing any treatment they have had to date to change their gender, such as hormone treatment or surgery.
If they have not had any treatment or surgery, they must send a report that details what treatment they plan to have.
So, it is incorrect to claim that a man “who intends to have no surgery and take no hormones” can “be a woman in the sight of the law,” as JK Rowling claimed.
Other aspects of Rowling’s claims are flawed too.
Firstly, the law around gender recognition in the UK has not actually changed since it was first introduced in 2004.
Under that law, trans people can have their gender legally recognised – but the process is a long and difficult one.
In order to be legally recognised in their correct gender, a trans person must be aged 18 or over, they must have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, they must have lived in their correct gender for at least two years, and they must agree to live the rest of their lives in that gender.
LGBT+ rights organisations have been calling for change to the legislation for some time.
The Gender Recognition Act has undergone a review process in the last number of years in England, Scotland and Wales, but as of yet, none of the proposed changes have been enacted.
In 2018, a public consultation on the Gender Recognition Act ran over the course of 16 weeks in the UK, where citizens were encouraged to submit testimony.
Meanwhile, in Scotland, the government proposed a draft bill to reform the Act last year and launched a public consultation – but as of yet, nothing has changed for trans people.
Furthermore, under the law, non-binary and gender non-conforming people are not entitled to any form of gender recognition, and must legally be identified as either male or female.
LGBT+ rights organisations have been calling for changes to the legislation for several years now.
Stonewall, for example, wants the UK government to simplify the gender recognition process by allowing trans people to be legally recognised without a medical diagnosis.
They have also called for legal recognition of non-binary identities, as well as the right to self-identification for 16 and 17-year-olds.
If proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act were brought in, the process would be streamlined for trans people in an effort to remove the bureaucratic burden currently placed on them.
Furthermore, the proposed changes would bring the UK’s Gender Recognition Act in line with other countries, including the Republic of Ireland, Norway, Malta, Denmark and Belgium.
JK Rowling’s comments risk making it sound as if trans people can easily have their gender legally recognised by law in the UK – but right now, this is far from the truth.