Photo: a page from the Gender Recognition Act 2004

Gender recognition process

The main reason that a transgender person would apply for a gender recognition certificate is to amend the sex that they were assigned at birth on their birth certificate.

You do not require a gender recognition certificate to acquire a passport in your recognised gender in Jersey. With the amendment to the Marriage and Civil Status (Jersey) Law in 2018 there is also now no requirement for a gender recognition certificate in order to marry as your recognised gender, Jersey’s marriage law is now effectively “blind” when it comes to the gender of the two people marrying.

The current process for acquiring a gender recognition certificate in Jersey involves acquiring a gender recognition certificate from another approved jurisdiction first, presenting that to the Royal Court, who will then issue the applicant with a Jersey gender recognition certificate. In effect, Jersey has “outsourced” the decision regarding issuing a gender recognition certificate to one of its citizens to other jurisdictions. Inevitably, in Jersey’s case, this means being reliant on the UK process for gender recognition.

In January 2016, the Women’s and Equality Committee produced a report (see section 3 of the report) investigating amongst other things the Gender Recognition Act and the gender recognition process for trans people. As a result, both the UK and Scottish parliaments are considering amending the Gender Recognition Act that is widely seen as unfit for purpose and a degrading process for trans people.

Irrespective of what the UK decides to do about its legislation, Liberate believes that this outsourcing model abdicates the States of Jersey’s responsibility of care to its transgender citizens and that there exists an opportunity for Jersey’s government to put in place an exemplary self-declaration process that is closer to the ones seen in other countries in Europe, which does not medicalise or pathologise transgender islanders or ask them to submit a body of evidence of their gender to an unseen panel.

Other countries

Whilst progress to amend the UK’s law has stalled, there are some countries that have already implemented the self-declaration model, so Jersey would not be breaking new ground if it were to follow them:

Ireland – Gender Recognition Bill (2015)

A person over the age of 18 can change their gender by way of a ‘statutory declaration’. A guide to Ireland’s process can be found here.

Malta – Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act (2015)

A person over the age of 16 can change their gender by way of a ‘statutory declaration’ –

Norway – Legal Gender Amendment Act (2016)

Any person over the age of 16 can change their gender and name by submitting a short document to the local tax office. Young people between 6 and 16 can access the process if at least one parent consents to it –

Argentina – Gender Identity Law (2012)

A person over the age of 18 can change their name and gender by submitting a document to the National Bureau of Vital Statistics. The law also gives adults access to sex reassignment surgery and hormone therapy as a part of their public or private health care plans –

Portugal – Gender identity law (2018)

A person over the age of 16 can change their gender by making a statutory declaration. The legislation also makes it illegal to perform unnecessary surgery on intersex babies –

Belgium – Legal Gender Recognition Law (2017)

A person from the age of 16 can change their gender by submitting a document to the civil registry. The process includes a three-month waiting period –

Denmark also has self-declaration, but with a six-month waiting time –

Liberate is not in favour of any waiting time because, as the article says, a “waiting period may also perpetuate misconceptions of trans people as being “confused” about their gender, instead of encouraging them to change their documents quickly so that they can participate fully and freely in all aspects of life.”

Progress: Liberate has met with the Judicial Greffier and Bailiff to discuss what can be done within existing law to facilitate a self-declaration-style process for transgender islanders. The legislation exists in Jersey for the Royal Court to accept a document such as a deed poll that would enable a person to self-declare their gender. The decision to change the documents required to be seen by the Royal Court to enable a gender recognition certificate to be issued sits with the Home Affairs Minister.