Saturday, 4 April 2015

The final hoop

We often hear of our transitioning described as hoop jumping, and are then told firmly by gender clinics that it is not about any such thing. Yes, they like to tell us this, it makes them comfortable in their jobs and able to sleep at night.

But the reality is that it is all about hoop jumping despite what they say and even some have admitted their agreement. I was told during my second opinion that I had jumped the last hoop with regards my GRS although there was still more to be done. 

The hoop jumping is over with my physical transitioning but there is one more hoop to jump to finish everything off and that is the small matter of my Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). This will confirm my gender as female in law and alter my birth certificate to reflect that and show my name as Lucy. It gives me a little more protection with regards disclosure of my past life and most importantly, means I can marry Mandy properly as a woman. In fact, this is the sole reason we have not yet set a date, we need this sorted so we can do that.

Today was the day I properly went through the form and did everything I could in readiness for its posting off. Ironically, it was 10 years to this day that the GRA (Gender Recognition Act) 2004 came into force. 

My thoughts on the whole process are that it is a complete joke. One more time I must open up my whole life to complete strangers to confirm something that I should not even have to. Given the surgery I have had, this should surely be enough? No, I must submit proof of that (although surgery is not absolutely necessary), another diagnosis from a gender specialist, a statutory declaration that I intend to live as a female until death, my deed poll, my divorce certificate and 5 or 6 documents with my female name on that are at least 2 years old.

I remember doing an interview last year with a research student about the GRC process and then I expressed my annoyance with the process. The fact I have to live for two years before I qualify for the extra protections was bad enough, but the whole process is designed to be difficult and I honestly believe it is out of the reach of some people. There is also a fee attached to this process of £140. I can apply for a waiving of that fee because of my circumstances, but that is another form and that is even more complex that the GRC one. It uses baffling legal terminology and I believe it does so on the basis that some will give up and fork out the £140. I do not think anyone should have to pay anything for this document that is our legal right. Being trans is costly enough as it is. That statutory declaration I mentioned, that's another £15 - £25 as well because it needs a solicitor to witness it. I was lucky in that my voluntary job is working alongside a solicitor so I got if for free, but few have this luxury. 

There is another point about marriage that makes the GRC out of reach of some people. I am lucky in that my divorce was finalised last year. Some however find themselves separated from spouses often due to their transitioning. You can get a GRC with the approval of the spouse but often separations are acrimonious and this is not a possibility. There are many stuck in that situation and I would have been too without a sudden effort from my ex to divorce me.

The form is as filled as I can make it. I still need that evidence from a gender specialist which should be sorted in a couple of weeks on my next appointment at the Laurel's. Lynda there has also said she will go through everything with me and check it is OK. This is not an obligation of the gender clinics but they do provide this and I am grateful for it. Then I can seal it up and post it off, recorded delivery as recommended and of course more cost. If it goes well, I will get contacted within a couple of months (the panel meet every two months). if not, I may have to provide more evidence and then wait another couple of months.

I suppose after all this time, I should realise that things never move fast in this game.

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