The Government has published its response to the Women and Equalities Committee's report on transgender equality.
The response provides some welcome commitments to undertake further reviews and other work, but it is disappointing in key respects.
The Government is committed to a new trans equality action plan, and a review of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, to "determine whether changes can be made to improve it in order to streamline and de-medicalise the gender recognition process". There is, however, no definite commitment to changing the law "in line with the principles of gender self-declaration", as the Committee recommended.
The response also indicates that there will be reviews or future action on: inclusion of trans people in sport, transphobia in the NHS, clinical protocols for NHS Gender Identity Services, the recording of gender in passports, unnecessary recording of gender information, the rights of trans prisoners, and numerous other trans equality issues.
The response regrettably rejects one of the Committee's main recommendations – that the protected characteristic in the Equality Act 2010 regarding trans people should be changed to "gender identity." The Government still regards the current form of words - "gender reassignment" and "transsexual" - as adequate, although the Committee's report found that it is "outdated and confusing", and does not adequately cover wider categories of trans people.
Committee Chair Maria Miller said:
"Progress on a new trans equality action plan and a review of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 will be very welcome, and we are glad to see that the Government is considering many of our other recommendations. However, we made these back in January, and would have hoped for more substantial progress during the past 6 months. Although the response makes some good future commitments, it’s a bit thin on action taken so far. Overall, the Committee shares the disappointment expressed by many in the trans community at the contents of the response.
It is particularly disappointing to find that there is no intention to change the confusing and inadequate language in the Equality Act 2010.
We will consider the Government’s proposals for further action carefully, and we look forward to more detailed discussions with Ministers and officials soon."