Home > Our Work > Gender Recognition Act Reform 2022 > GRA FAQ


What is the Gender Recognition Act?

The Gender Recognition Act (GRA) is a law that allows trans men and women who fulfil certain requirements to change the sex listed on their birth certificate. The sex on a person’s birth certificate is sometimes referred to as their “legal sex”.

For a fuller explanation, click here


What does it do?

Practically, the GRA allows trans men and women to apply for a gender recognition certificate (GRC) which they can use to change the sex on their birth certificate.

Trans people can legally change their sex without a GRC on other documents such as their passport and drivers licence, but not their birth certificate, which is required in some circumstances such as obtaining a pension or when getting married.


Why does the GRA need to change?

While it is good that trans men and women can use the GRA to change their legal sex, the process to do so is long, complicated, and expensive.

There are many arbitrary requirements for acquiring a GRC which many trans people will not be able to meet for perfectly legitimate reasons that are no fault of their own. This can mean that some people trans people are unable to retire when they planned to, or are even recorded as the wrong gender on their death certificate.

Many trans people, such as non-binary people and trans people under 18, are also excluded from having their legal sex recognised by the act.

In short, the act is now out of step with international best practice for gender recognition, and goes against the guidance of human rights groups like Amnesty International and the WHO.

For a fuller explanation of the current issues with the GRA, click here


How will it change?

The proposals announced by the Scottish Government on 3rd March 2022 suggest that the following changes will be made to the GRA in Scotland:

For a fuller breakdown of these proposals click here


Will it affect single sex spaces and services?

No, as trans people without a gender recognition certificate can already use single-sex spaces, such as toilets and changing rooms, which align with their gender. The Equality Act 2010, and not the GRA, set out the legal arrangements for how single-sex spaces and services operate, and changes to the GRA will not affect these.

The Equality Act 2010 starts from the position that trans people, with or without gender recognition certificates, can access services and spaces which align with their gender. Trans women can use female-only spaces and services, and trans men can use male-only spaces and services. However, there are exceptions which allow single-sex services to treat trans people less favourably than other people if their particular circumstances mean that’s necessary and proportionate. A service provider can exclude any person (trans or not) if they behave badly.

These arrangements also apply to single-sex services such as prisons, gender based violence services such as domestic abuse refuges, and single-sex wards. There are nothing in the Scottish Government proposals that would change this.


Will it affect sports?

No, there are specific exceptions in the Equality Act 2010 that allow trans people to be treated differently to others when it comes to participating in sports, if this is needed for fairness and safety

There is nothing in the Scottish Government proposals that would change this, and the current exceptions allow sporting bodies themselves to take decisions on how and when trans people can participate in a sport.


Will it affect the rights of others?

No, reform to the GRA is simply about improving trans people’s access to legal recognition of their gender, and won’t affect the rights of any other group

While obtaining a GRC is personally important to many trans people, it only has a very limited number of uses as birth certificates are rarely used as identity documents in everyday life.


Can anyone use the GRA?

Under the current system, only trans men and trans women who are judged by a tribunal to have met specific measures can obtain a GRC, but even if the Scottish Government’s proposals are passed, those who wish to obtain one will have to make a statutory declaration under oath


Will GRA reform in Scotland affect the rest of the UK?

GRA reform in Scotland is a devolved matter as it affects Scottish birth certificates, but if the Bill was passed in Scotland it would not affect GRA procedures in the rest of the UK.

Anyone living in Scotland, whether or not they have a Scottish birth certificate, will be able to apply for a GRC here. However, whether or not this can be used to change a birth certificate from the rest of the UK, or any other country, will depend on whether the relevant authorities in those countries decides to accept a Scottish GRC

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