Campaigners to change the law to allow children to change their legal gender should 'avoid excessive press coverage and exposure' according to an international survey singling out the UK for criticism. Only adults? Good Practices for Legal Gender Recognition for Youth, is the result of a collaboration between international firm Dentons, the Thomson Reuters Foundation and an international pressure group IGLO to mark Transgender Awareness Week.
The report examines laws governing gender recognition, with a focus on young people, in Norway, Malta, Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Portugal and the UK. It classifies Belgium, Malta and Norway as 'good practice countries' and the remaining five as comparators. The UK is the only one of the eight not to have adopted 'self-determination-based gender identity recognition'.
In what the report calls the 'most progressive countries' individuals can elect to change their legal gender without the need for medical diagnoses or court determination. Norway is the most liberal, with legal gender recognition being available at any age, although with conditions for different age groups. For example, minors under the age of 6 can have their legal gender altered only if they are intersex.
By contrast, in the UK,' trans people must endure a lengthy, complex and expensive process to have the opportunity to change their legal gender'. The requirement under the Gender Recognition Act for two years of 'lived experience' puts young people at a particular disadvantage, the report states. It warns campaigners of a 'trans-hostile' cultural climate, saying that 'many mainstream and right-wing media outlets have given platforms to the voices of trans exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs), a term coined by a journalist at the Guardian'.
'These voices normally come from women’s groups who express concern over streamlining the process for legal gender recognition,' the report states. 'Their concerns largely include female prisoners and female public toilets.'
Groups campaigning for Norway-style laws should target the youth wings of political parties and 'de-medicalise' the issue, the report recommends. In Norway, it notes, the law changed after youth politicians 'brought up the issue at every meeting of any sort – even ones which were not directly relevant, to ensure the issue was at the forefront of everyone’s minds.'
The report says that it does not necessarily reflect the personal views of any of the lawyers, staff or clients of Dentons, Thomson Reuters Foundation or other lawyers who contributed.