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Transgenderism; the law in context

Date:29 MAR 2021
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Professor Chris Barton, A Vice-President of the Family Mediators Association, Academic Door Tenant, Regent Chambers, Stoke-on-Trent

This article attempts to posit the relevant laws on transgenderism within the oscillating attitudes to the subject from the era of the travel writer Jan Morris to the present day.

It first notes some encouraging approaches to gender dysphoria, eg the revised Audiovisual Media Services Regulation 2020 inclusion of intolerance of gender reassignment within its definition of hate speech. There follows a brief account of ‘transition treatment options’ for both F/M and F/M. The possibilities, none of which are obligatory to activate the legal procedure, are hormone treatment and/or surgery. Both should involve counselling and are available through the NHS.

Much of the article is taken up by an analysis of The Gender Recognition Act 2004 and discussions of the implications for marriages, free speech, ‘protected characteristics’, discrimination, parenthood and Gillick-competence.

Whilst acknowledging controversies occasioned by the likes of ‘single-sex’ areas and fair competition in sport, there is an examination of the case for legal self-determination, ie that transgenderism would be better seen as the rectification of a previous mis-attribution based on somatic examination. It has always been the case that, eg, an ability to inseminate, let alone ejaculate, is not a requirement, legal or otherwise, for ‘masculinity’, any more than a working womb is for ‘femininity’.

The full article will be published in the April issue of Family Law


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