Oxford University Student Union opened its offices on Monday to enable students to submit responses to the Reform of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2018 consultation.
The consultation, commissioned by the Government Equalities Office, aims to gage the public’s views on how to reform the Gender Recognition Act 2004.
A spokesperson for the SU told Cherwell: “Oxford SU hosted around about 30 students throughout the day, we provided a space to work, snacks and information on our views on the consultation.
“We then let the students fill out the consultation unhindered and provide whatever answers they would like for us. Oxford SU firmly believes in equality for all and this is one way of helping to achieve that.”
Oxford SU VP Women Katt Walton was present throughout the day to advocate for the importance of the consultation. The University’s LGBTQ+ society also provided a set of template answers to assist those answering the consultation.
Walton told Cherwell: “The SU strongly supports the reformation of the GRA so that it can better support the trans community. We are very proud to unequivocally support the trans community and we urge everyone to fill out the GRA consultation.
“We have decided to have an office open day because many people will have questions about the GRA, we want to be able to provide that information in an easily accessible way, so they then can fill in the form whilst they are here.
“We hopefully want to get as many voices calling for equality and respect submitted because we know that opposing voices will be loud and myths and misinformation will be spread.”
In a SU blog post, Walton wrote: “Currently, trans folk have to endure a long and dehumanising process to ‘prove’ their gender identity. It’s very stressful, complex, expensive, and largely inaccessible to trans people.”
The SU also made its own submission to the consultation, which incorporated contributions from members present on Monday and is publically available on their website.
In their submission, the SU stated: “This consultation widely misses the mark and has squandered the opportunity to hear, first hand, the experiences of trans people.
“Rather than focus on how policy is implemented and the real life impact of these arduous, outdated, overly-medicalised policies on the lives of a marginalised group, this survey demands time and labour from said marginalised group in order to answer questions that require both an in depth knowledge of the GRA 2004 and the EA 2010.
“Not all trans people are politicians. Not all trans people are lawyers. Trans people are simply trying to live their lives in a way that is safe and as free from dysphoria and discrimination as possible.
“Many of the questions in this survey are a matter of fact, not opinion: They should not be up for debate.”
Anyone can participate in the consultation, but a few questions on the form are reserved specifically for people who identify as (binary or non-binary) transgender.
Since the GRA was first implemented in 2004, 4,910 people have used it to legally change their gender. The government estimates that there are 200,000 to 500,000 trans people living in the UK.
Currently, it costs £140 to go through the process of legally changing gender. The process also requires, among other documents, a medical report that proves the applicant has gender dysphoria and proof that they have lived as their new gender for at least two years.
The current GRA doesn’t legally recognise the existence of non-binary people. In their submission, the SU added: “Society has moved on from outdated concepts of binary sex and gender and now the legislation must catch up.
“EDM660 (2015) called for the gender marker X to be added to passports, that we are still debating this three years later is baffling. It is time to move on.”
The submission closes on 19th October 2018 at 11pm.