Letter to Lynne Jones
UK - Gender Recognition Act
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Dear Lynne Jones,
I have tried to enumerate the problems that we ex-pats abroad have had to face since the GRA 2004 was introduced. To say that we are upset by the whole sorry saga is an understatement, we are extremely angry at the off handed way in which we are being dealt with. There is no empathy for those abroad, a complete lack of understanding of laws outside of UK, as is demonstrated over and over. The constant alluding to the NHS and its problems, none of which has anything to do with us. If we wish to have Sex Reassignment Surgery, we have to pay for it in Australia and New Zealand!
It also appears to us that many have invested in this purely for gain and kudos, tell otherwise to those who are denied the right to a GRC/BC who are living abroad.
We also look at the DTI Women’s Equity Unit and foresee some major problems arising there. We also have to hand the details of PFC’s Sport Leaflet and again can see areas of concern. The IOC talk of ‘the trans person will have to prove that they have undergone at least a minimum of two year regimen of hormones and gender reassignment surgery (GRS)’ how will this affect those with a new GRC/BC who have elected to not have surgery?
I have supplied details of all of my surgery and would qualify as an Olympic athlete, as I had surgery 4.5 years ago. This would appear to be discriminatory to myself and others, who are regarded as Man or Woman in both Australia and New Zealand after GRS.
We would ask you to raise these points in order that we may be able to have the GRA 2004 amended to allow us to use our own doctors in the country in which we are now domiciled
Lastly, what happens to those UK residents who go off shore to have GRS in places such as Thailand? Would they have to undergo two reports in UK? as their Thai surgeon is not GMC registered and his letter would be useless.
Please read on, as this is the preamble to the content of this mail.
I believe that the ill researched, ill thought out and ill conceived Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) means that most expatriates are denied their rights under this ACT. They will never receive a new Birth Certificate (BC) in their new name and gender. As the onus has now been placed on us expatriates to correct the ills of this ACT. We are expected to lobby our Governments in the country where we are domiciled to afford us a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), in order that we can then send it to UK in order to be recognised in our new name and gender in the hope that we will then receive a new BC from UK.
This removes the problems the ACT has caused through being ill conceived by the instigators of said ACT from UK and they now wish to impose the changes that are required in order to correct these problems onto the people living abroad.
This means a much longer time frame to achieve what we outside of UK considered as our right. We now have to approach many different countries governments for them to enact legislation so that we can be issued with a GRC. To me this absolves UK and alleviates UK from its utter failure to deliver what was implemented with great fanfare as the promise of a right for all Transsexual people, namely a registration of their new name and gender, and to afford them a new BC.
Add to this the fact that they expect us to apply under the Freedom of Information ACT at our cost for information and then apply to the Appeals tribunal after rejection of our application. This is due to the fact that our application does not meet their requirements. The main problem being the need to find General Medical Council (GMC) doctors, (who are not mentioned in the ACT, as it was considered that everyone would understand that “registered medical practitioner meant GMC registered”) We abroad certainly were not aware of this and were not made aware of it until we were told about it in rejections between May and August 2005. We now have to find GMC doctors in the country of residence to satisfy the requirements of the 2004 ACT. Also double standards where Gender Dysphoria, Gender Identity Disorder and Transsexuals (TS) are concerned. More on this later.
The fact that we are most likely to be fully recognised at law in our new Gender and Name in the country where we live has no bearing on the application, as we are expected to receive a UK GRC to become ‘legal’.
Our laws in Australia allow us to change all legal documentation before or after Sex Re-assignment Surgery (SRS) in order to be recognised in our new gender status. This means Australian Passport and Citizenship Certificate after SRS, along with My UK passport. Before SRS we can change our drivers licence and all other detail held by government and business institutions. I’m sure you will not miss the irony of being able to change our UK Passport before we have a UK GRC and BC in place.
So let us look at the whole thing as we see it in Australia and New Zealand (NZ)
I have sent details of the web sites for the laws pertaining to TS people in NZ, Queensland and Victoria. I believe that you already have the one for South Australia (SA). Have they been looked at?
NZ came on stream in 1999 and offered a new BC to TS people who have had SRS and were born in NZ. Currently there is nothing offered for those residing in NZ but born in another country.
SA came on stream in 1988 and offered a new BC to those TS people who have had SRS and were born in SA. They also offered the equivalent of a GRC to those living in SA, but born abroad.
Victoria came on stream in 2005 and offered a new BC to those TS people who have had SRS and were born in Victoria. They also offer the equivalent of a GRC to those living in Victoria, but born abroad.
Queensland came on stream in 2003 and offered a new BC to those TS people who have had SRS and were born in Queensland. Currently nothing is offered for those living in Queensland, but born abroad. You are asking us in Queensland to ask the government to amend the ACT 2003, in order to include a GRC for those not born in Queensland, but reside here. We have this before the Attorney-General. We are also at some stage trying to get a GRC for those born in Queensland who are unable to have SRS, as it would be life threatening. Both Karen Gurney and I think that this should happen, but governments have different ideas on the subject. However, this is as far as the governments would be likely to go, maybe, albeit if in the future, but still they insist on the laws of Australia and NZ about “NO SRS—NO GRC/BC.
L1. In a letter to one of my friends, I see that the Deputy President, Jeremy Bennett, on behalf of the president of the Gender Recognition Panel (GRP) States, “We are advised that in Queensland a successful applicant is issued with a recognition certificate. We need to see a copy of the Queensland recognition certificate, if a gender recognition certificate is to be issued in this country. We also understand that the birth certificate of an applicant can be changed but that would not be relevant to you as you were born in this country.
Concerning the issue of a GRC in Queensland. This is patently not the case and someone has not even bothered to look up the relevant laws available on the internet.
Also, why would someone with a Qld BC be applying as surely they would have received it under the current laws of Queensland, as above. This only supports my theory that nothing is really known of the laws outside of UK.
With regard to the UK 2004 ACT, I stated that those living in UK would most likely understand that “Registered Medical Practitioner” meant UK registered. I also stated that those living abroad would not understand this and therefore it should have been laid out as from day 1 in the 2004 ACT. I think it unreasonable to assume people outside, and perhaps some inside UK, would understand the term GMC. What happens in the case of those resident in UK who go to say Thailand for SRS, will they have to have a GMC doctor give a report, as the one from the Thai surgeon would not be recognised, as he is not GMC registered?
This is the crux of the matter so far as we abroad are concerned, and after looking back on my paperwork, I find the following in regard to these problems
In regard to applications and guidelines, from the moment they were available on the GRA web site there was no mention at all about GMC registered doctors as a requirement to receive reports from. That is nothing until May/June 2005. Even version 1 of the standard track did not make mention of this fact.
L2. It appears to have happened after we started querying rejections on the grounds of not using GMC registered doctors. We then started to receive messages as follows. The letter you sent does not meet the requirements as set out in section 3(1)(a) of the GRA. A report must be provided by a medical practitioner, who is registered with the GMC in the UK. Although the term “registered medical practitioner” has not been defined in the GRA the Vice President of the GRP has directed the following:
Medical evidence has to be provided by a “registered medical practitioner”. The Gender Recognition Act 2004 does not define this term. It is defined in the Interpretation Act 1978 by reference to section 55 of the medical Act 1983. A “registered medical practitioner” has to be registered with the GMC. This can include doctors trained or practising abroad but registered in UK.
My question again is, how were we supposed to know this without it being set out in the GRA 2004? So we merrily sent in our applications and fee as per what we read in the guidelines and applications and the guidelines for doctors. We sent paper work from the people who had established that we were gender dysphoric, our psychiatrists and paperwork from our surgeons stating that we have undergone SRS and are now to be considered “an anatomical female, or male, whichever way we had gone.” Not good enough as you do not have a GRC in Queensland, so why are we on the Approved list? No GMC doctors reports. Unknown until the point of rejection. Now we are told after much questioning of both the GRP and PFC that if we can find GMC registered doctors practising in Australia we can use them, instead of having to return to UK at great cost for these reports to be done. Most of us cannot afford the trip, due to being on pension or in ill health.. When we do find these GMC doctors here in Australia or NZ, then they are required to send a CV and apply to be put onto the list of “Specialists” who are allowed to write these reports. Also their integrity is questioned!
Applications started appearing on the GRA web site with the added clause being added after the AUGUST 2005 UPDATE. It is placed at the top of page 3 in the Guidelines for medical practitioners and chartered psychologists, but only after the August 2005 update. I quote “All medical reports submitted to the Gender Recognition Panel must be supplied by a person registered with the General Medical Council (GMC)’ On page 6 under Report Proforma for Gender recognition, question 5 asks ‘Your GMC registration number’ This is also fact after the March 2006 update.
The Standard Track application, version 1 makes no mention of these requirements. The updated version at March 2006, makes no mention of these GMC requirements on any of its 14 pages. Also at this time there were no Standard Track Guidelines for medical practitioners available, so was told to use the Fast Track Guidelines for medical practitioners. I told the GRP this would be illegal, as this form talked of living in their preferred gender for 6 years or longer. The Standard Track requirement is 2 years or longer, so any doctor signing off on the Fast Track forms could have been put into an invidious position. They very quickly produced the Standard Track forms!
The Standard Track Guidelines makes mention of it on page 14, under Medical Reports, no where else and that is the March 2006 update. The Guidelines for Medical Practitioners and Chartered Psychologists only makes mention of this at the top of page 3 and could be easily missed if posted out. For the Standard Track two of these reports have to be sent, one to each of the doctors required.
If people do not read the guidelines and just send the Application with their Australian/NZ doctor’s reports, or surgeons reports from Thailand, they will be rejected. It is a fact of life, the more paper work you cause people to read, or fill in, the more they will not read and miss details. This will no doubt happen even now.
L3. I also note that there is nothing about GMC doctors in the President’s Guidelines No 1 in either of the 2 pages. Don’t forget that this is on the GRP web site, so surely some mention should be made. His Guidance is dated December 2005.
L4. All letters of rejection after May/June 2005 until August 2005 had the GMC requirements listed as per the Vice President of the GRP. This would indicate that after the August Update, it was considered to be no longer required.
L5 & L6 Since August 2005 without the rejection stating that only GMC registered practitioners can complete the reports as per the directive of the Vice President of the GRP, it is amazing that when I queried items on the 14/02/2006 I received the exact wording from the secretariat, but now from the Deputy President of the GRP. Jenny received the same answer as I on the 22/02/2006, again from the secretariat, but also stating The Secretariat does not deal with amendments to the ACT; all correspondence of this nature should be sent to:
54 Victoria Street
L7. When we send to there, they promptly pass it to GRP, even when asked not to. It would appear that the Vice/Deputy President’s letter is alive and well in the computer memory bank.
L8. We are now in a position to be able to produce evidence that some people did get their new GRC/BC without using GMC doctors, as their applications were accepted before the change was made by the Vice President of the GRP in May/June 2005. I have the OK to use this information. This letter has since been withdrawn, due to the fear that the GRP will revoke the person’s new GRC/BC. Original letter sent to Stephen Whittle of PFC.
L9. On the 24/02/2006 Stephen Whittle wrote, and I quote.
“Finally a bundle of the relevant OZ state laws for recognition would be of considerable help. The research on laws was done in a manner that was very time and money limited, and it took us as volunteers to evidence as many states as we could. We should perhaps address how we can get states added to this list” I take this to mean the approved listings..
L10. Also along this line of thought Karen received a letter from Ann Holland at DCA stating “I do have knowledge of the different laws and processes for recognition in each state in Australia” Later in the letter she states “ Finally, I would like to pick up on something mentioned below. You say South Australia and Victoria have now incorporated provisions for issuing recognition certificates granting relevant legal status to persons resident, but not born in the particular jurisdiction. My research of a year or so ago did not reveal this so if you could let me have more information on that I would be most grateful”
I can forgive the Lady for her not possibly knowing about the Victorian Legislation, as it was only processed in 2005, but not the South Australian legislation as it has been around since 1988. Her e-mail was dated the 12/09/2005
Because of the lack of knowledge of laws outside of UK, you now have this situation to contend with. Many expatriates are not being accepted because UK does not understand our laws. I have been asked ‘Why was Queensland and other States and Territories and NZ put on the approved list when in essence they should not be there, as proved by the rejections on the grounds of the lack of a GRC in those States or Countries’ This is proving totally confusing to all concerned. Add to this that we have to find GMC registered doctors, as there is no list supplied of those practising outside of UK. All those listed are within UK and are of no use to us, unless we return to UK for the reports at horrendous cost. We think the idea of us clubbing together to fetch a “Specialist” out here at our cost is farcical. How long would he have to stay, or how many times would we need to pay for him to come, as more apply?
Confusion reigned from day1 over the three track system. I am still being asked why was it made so difficult to understand. I have out lined the problems as we see them, but I have done that so many times that they should be understood by now. We also consider that as each track demands different criteria regarding doctor’s reports, it appears to us that there are “Three levels of transsexualism. No report for the Overseas Track, One report for the Fast Track and two reports for the Standard Track. Why is this necessary if we are all applying for the same things, namely a GRC/BC”
Non surgery is the UK approach which gives those who choose not to have SRS the right to a new BC. At present I find it hard to accept that as a woman who has suffered from transsexualism all my life and finally had SRS at 66, is denied a GRC/BC on the grounds of not being legal in Queensland! I had SRS in 2001 and lived 24/7 before that for 2 years but did not change my name until 2001, so have no proof of those first 2 years. Because of that I have to apply under the Standard Track and provide 2 reports by GMC registered doctors practising in Australia. My surgeon’s letter and letters from my psychiatrist and endocrinologist are not acceptable, as they are not GMC registered.
L11. In the President’s Guidance No.1. it states at 1 Section 2 of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (the Act) says that the panel must grant an application if it is satisfied that the applicant
a. has or has had gender dysphoria,
b. has lived in the acquired gender throughout the period of two years ending with the date on which the application is made,
c. intends to live in that gender until death, and
d. has complied with the evidential requirements set out in section 3 of the Act.
However, the GRP are arguing that you have to be suffering Gender Dsphoria after SRS, as well as before. My Treating Psychiatrist wrote this and said I was suffering from Gender Dysphoria and Transsexualism. The GMC psychiatrist I saw stated that ‘I was no longer suffering from any type of Gender Dysphoria or Gender resistant disorder. I also affirm that Kathy Noble is suffering no psychiatric disorder functional or psychotically speaking, and in particular is not the victim of any hallucinatory or delusory process’
I consider myself to be extremely well adjusted and in being so am helping others.
I believe that I have satisfied all of the criteria set out above. I am recognised as a woman in Australia in all legal matters within this country. Many of my friends both here and in NZ also meet all of the criteria, but we are denied because of GMC doctors and no GRC issued in Queensland and other states in Australia and not in NZ
L12. One of my people received a letter dated the 30/08/2005 saying further information was required and they had until the 31/10/2005 to get this information back to GRP. However, on the 19/10/2005, he received the decision on his application stating that his application was not successful and he could not re-apply until 19/04/2006. This was within the time they had allowed for him to send further information. Instead of allowing him the month to supply that material, they had only allowed him 20 days, not the month!
Another item that causes us to be angry is the continual obsession with the NHS, as it has no bearing on our 2 countries. We know that some have to wait for long periods of time in order to have SRS under that system. We can have SRS as soon as accepted and able to pay for it. Yes, we have no government funded operations in Australia. In NZ they do have some funding which can only be used in NZ. Most don’t want that, as it is colon only, so go off shore to Thailand and again have to pay. If we are lucky enough to own our home, some will take out a mortgage or even sell their home in order to pay for surgery.
We have great problems with both DCA and GRA enquiries passing the buck to GRP, who then quote “we can’t answer that question as we are not lawyers, so please contact DCA or GRA enquiries. I understand also that they use the FOI to stall queries. I am also worried about costs for an appeal. Why at no fault of our own making should we be put into this type of situation and all the worry that goes with it?
Don’t forget that originally we were told we would have to make a 24000 mile round trip in order to have the reports done. This was altered if we could find GMC doctors in Australia and NZ. Under the original suggestion it would preclude 95% of people from getting their GRC/BC, due to cost, as most are on pensions. It would appear that at present it is not much better if we do find GMC doctors.
Would it serve any purpose to write to the President and Deputy President of the GRP direct? I think as they state they are not lawyers, that we should bypass them and write to government and MPs.
Our laws in Australia allow us to change all legal documentation either before or after SRS. We can change everything before SRS such as Driver’s licence, Tax Office, CentreLink (Like NHS), Electoral Office, Banks, Insurance, Doctors and so on. After SRS we are then allowed to change our Passport, Australian and UK, Citizenship Certificate and Health Insurance Central Records. If born in Australia, then you can apply to the State or Territory where you are born in order to have your BC altered.
We do in many instances seem better off than UK when our system is looked at.
At 71 I have learnt over the years that if you have a tantrum, or tell lies, they do have a way of coming home in time. It is preferable to face the problem at the beginning and find out all the details that are in dispute before flying off the handle. I have in my 40 plus years in financial advice services learnt that I only solved a problem when all detail was to hand, this would lead to a complete understanding by all involved. I think we are now in that happy position, or at least I hope so.
I would like to know what will happen when the DTI Women and Equality Unit is faced with some of the obvious problems that could arise in regard to the issue of a GRC to people who have not had SRS?
Karen has raised these questions. How will someone go if they claim to be a woman and have a Penis when they travel to USA or Bali or Malaysia or…. And they go through the x-ray security check and are discovered?
How will other countries react to their marriage? Australia has very specifically said it will not view same-sex marriages validly entered into overseas as being legitimate here.
I think that far from helping those people who do not wish to have SRS as is their choice, it would appear that said Act will be putting them in a rather invidious position. How will the GRC/BC protect them then?
Kathy Anne Noble
President Agender Australia.
OTHERS INVOLVED IN THIS LETTER
Jenny, Jessica, Kain, Amanda Lee, Erica, Karen Queensland
Susan, Karen Victoria
Ellen, Kaye, Kathryn, Allyson, Nikki, Rob New Zealand
Katherine New South Wales
Also: The Queensland Attorney-General,
Anti Discrimination Commission Queensland
Australian Bisexual Network
Action Reform Change Queensland
LETTERS BY NUMBER.
This letter was used 30/08/05
About GMC again 14/02/06
Using GMC doctors. Used her own in Sydney.
Sorry, but has been withdrawn due to fear that the GRP will
Revoke her new GRC/BC 19/03/06
And money to be able to do research into laws outside of UK 24/02/06
Australian laws that affect Transsexuals 12/09/05
Full rejection sent 20 days later 19/10/05
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