C: Ted Eytan (CC BY-SA 4.0)

UK: Support for changing sex on birth certificate falls sharply 

The long-running British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey has shown that support for transgender people being allowed to change the sex on their birth certificate has fallen sharply in the last two years.

39% of people are now opposed to the idea that it should be permitted, with the proportion of people supporting the idea falling by 21 points in two years, from 53% in 2019 to just 32% in 2021. The figure is an even more significant decline on the 58% of people who agreed with the question in 2016. 28% of those surveyed did not agree or disagree. 

“It may be that some people accept that people should be able to secure some form of legal recognition of their ‘acquired gender’ but also believe that this should not involve changing the sex that is recorded on their birth certificate,” the survey said.

The findings of the survey also revealed that 33 per cent of those in the UK feel that transgender equal opportunities have gone too far, while 32 per cent believe they have not gone far enough. It was a question that had not been asked in previous years.

The polling further found that while the balance of public opinion mostly falls in favour of socially liberal views, including on acceptance of sex before marriage and support for gay marriage, this did not extend to the transgender issue.

Speaking to the UK Times, Sir John Curtice, senior research fellow at the National Centre for Social Research, which published the report, said: “This is the one instance where, for the moment, attitudes have not moved in a more liberal direction.

“The question of gender recognition has become an issue of much more media commentary in the last couple of years. The wider polling suggests people are pretty divided about whether or not you can allow people to do it on the basis of self-identification, as opposed to having to go through some process or other”. 

A July 2021 RedC poll, commissioned by the feminist group The Countess, found that only 17% of Irish people supported Ireland’s current gender change laws and believe that trans people should be allowed to legally change sex on their birth certificate, as reported here by Gript’s Gary Kavanagh. 28% of those surveyed said there should not be a legal right to amend sex on a birth certificate, and only 16% said sex offenders should have a legal right to change gender at all. The poll was the first-ever independent survey carried out into Irish attitudes to gender which revealed widespread support among the Irish public for single-sex services and sports. 

Irish citizens are legally permitted to change their gender on government documents through self-determination thanks to the passing of the controversial 2015 Gender Recognition Act. The passing of the law made Ireland the fourth state in the world to allow alterations to government documents. 

In the UK, a person’s legal gender is tied to their UK Birth certificate. The Gender Recognition Act of 2004 created a process enabling transsexual people to get their UK birth certificates and legal gender changed, through application to the government’s Gender Recognition Panel for a Gender Recognition Certificate. 

The current law in the UK means that the individual seeking to legally change gender must undergo medical assessments and psychiatric interviews in order to receive the certification. Only 1% of trans people in the UK are believed to have the certificate. Downing Street appears to have dropped long-held plans to reform gender recognition for trans people in the UK amid controversy and division on the matter, while Scotland has pushed forward with a bill to do so. 

But trans activists have accused the UK’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss of wanting to “pause or prevent” the Scottish Government’s new bill to allow trans people to self-identify as is possible in Ireland. Two government whistle-blowers recently told Vice World News that Truss had recruited lawyers to “help delay” the new Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which would amend the UK Gender Recognition Act 2004, making it easier for people to legally change their sex. 

One whistle-blower said they were “concerned that all of Scotland’s great trans equality work will be undone when Liz Truss steps into Number Ten”. 

The Government Equalities Office recently confirmed that Truss’ team is currently “seeking legal advice”, further stating they are “working with Scottish counterparts and other stakeholders” to explore “any implications” of the bill.

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