The Gender Recognition Act

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 (‘GRA’) provides transgendered people with legal recognition in their acquired gender. Legal recognition will be achieved when a gender recognition certificate is issued by a Gender Recognition Panel made up of at least one legally and one medically qualified member.

The GRA does not require that the person has undergone gender reassignment treatment to qualify. Indeed, the GRA recognises that a person’s gender identity, and not surgery, is the defining factor.

The effect of obtaining a gender recognition certificate will be significant. For example, a male to female transsexual person will be legally recognised as a woman ‘for all purposes’ including the criminal law, entitlement to state benefits and occupational pension schemes. Importantly, she will also be entitled to be issued with a new birth certificate reflecting the changed gender and will be able to marry someone of the opposite sex or enter into a civil partnership with someone of the same sex.

The GRA came into force in April 2005.

Applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate

The Gender Recognition Act sets out a procedure for applying to a Gender Recognition Panel for a Gender Recognition Certificate. You can apply if you are:
  • at least 18 years of age;
  • have or have had gender dysphoria;
  • have fully lived in the acquired gender for at least two years; and
  • intend to continue to live in your acquired gender for the rest of your life.
T here is a separate process where a person has changed gender under the law of a country or territory outside of the UK. Information is available from the Gender Recognition Panel. The fast track process for persons who have lived in the other gender for at least 6 years was discontinued from 3 April 2007.

You must provide two medical reports. The first must be from a registered medical practitioner, or a chartered psychologist, either of whom must be practicing in the field of gender dysphoria. This report should confirm the diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The second report can be provided by any registered medical practitioner. At least one of the reports must give details of any treatment undergone or planned for the purposes of gender reassignment. If you have changed gender outside of the UK appropriate evidence of that change must be provided.

You must also provide a statutory declaration stating :
  • you meet the two year qualifying period;
  • you are or are not married/in a civil partnership; and
  • any other information required by the Secretary of State or the Panel.
The Panel must issue a full recognition certificate if these requirements are met. If you are married/in a civil partnership, an interim certificate will be granted until the marriage is annulled or dissolved. If the Panel refuses the application, there is a right of appeal on points of law.


The GRA safeguards the privacy of transsexuals by prohibiting the disclosure of information acquired in an official capacity relating to an application for a gender recognition certificate or about the gender history of a successful applicant. This would include disclosure by those handing such applications, medical staff, employers, civil servants, financial advisors or anyone else acting in the course of business. Of course disclosure is permitted if you have consented. Further disclosure is permitted for valid public policy reasons such as for the purposes of investigating or preventing a crime, for legal or medical purposes, or for the purposes of obtaining social security or pensions benefits and/or credit. Disclosure is also permitted for religious purposes in certain circumstances.

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