Ok, so to start with, I've got to say that I don't need a GRC to prove who I am, who I am is enough. It doesn't "complete me" as much as stopping t and starting HRT and having surgery, which was a psychological imperative. Those things were essential, a GRC merely provides a little extra legal protection (although how much, if at all is largely debatable as a transitioned man was found guilty of rape because he didn't declare he had transitioned rather than any issue relating to actual consent to sexual intimacy). A birth certificate with "F" on it, is seen by very few, much less taken seriously in a medicolegal context and provides no relief to physical, or even social dysphoria. Legally, it provides a little context, but mostly, the reason I want one is because I've found someone I will love forever and I want to make an honest woman of her. Yes, I was joking, she's pathologically honest and non-neurotypical. It comes with the territory. I transitioned 9 years ago, and I'm in the position to have the spoons to cope with being misgendered, misnamed, and generally humiliated in order to get this thing that cis people don't have to do.
Anyway, I adore her. It has nothing to do with religion, I just want some recognition of our relationship as I'm tired of people referring to her as "my friend". I want her say about anything if I'm incapacitated to count, I want the hospital to respect our relationship and contact her, rather than my daughter, primarily (which happened recently). I want her to be looked after if I die. I want her to be recognised, and our relationship to be respected. A lot of demands, I know, and as a transitioned woman, I'm very thoroughly schooled in not being in a position to have any rights, much less have demands. Nevertheless, fuck the patriarchy.
It didn't take long to find the .gov.uk website and download the forms. Initially, the fee was still £140 on 5th May. So I wrote to them asking when the fee would be reduced and when the service will be streamlined. Apparently, the fee is now £5 to apply, which is excellent, but the "online" component will take "at least two years" [insert crappy reason why it can't just be changed like they said it would be here]. Now I have to take the "standard" route, because I have never been married. You see, like my partner, I'm kind of honest, and I couldn't marry as a dude. That would be just too eww, and anyway I'd miss out on a wedding dress. I digress, the standard route, I guess is longer, despite having transitioned in every other way 9 years ago, and physically having had surgery I have to prove to a faceless panel, based on bills and letters, that I'm myself. It makes you wonder, in the interests of equality, why other people sexed by having a vagina at birth and later growing boobs don't have to "prove" that they're woman enough as well. I mean isn't it reasonable and fair that everyone goes through the same process? But of course, that's cis people, the cis-tem, being incredibly transphobic, demands everything from transitioned women and people - regardless of whether you now have the same primary and secondary sexual characteristics of every other woman. Yes, it's absurd. Yes, that's standard cis-supremacist shitfuckery. This is why it has taken me the best part of a decade to get around to this, and only because I'm hopelessly in love. So, there are two forms, T450 and T451. Form T450 I guess is the main one - it runs through name, contact details, email. Ok, that's fair enough. Surname and forename for the birth certificate... ok well, I don't give any shits about that, but if I must. National insurance number? Wait, is this strictly necessary now? I mean both legal sexes have to work for the same amount of time now, why is this relevant? Oh! Of course, because inland revenue will constantly misgender you because they are the only organisation in the UK that won't change your title on their system without this GRC. I've literally sent letters back to them, saying "not known" because a legal condition of my Deed Poll is that I don't go under my old name / title. But I have to accept that the cis own my life, I should be well aware of this by now. So, ok, I'll give you my NI number if you promise to address me politely. It's a bit intrusive though, and I have no idea who now has access to this data. Moving on... birth name, fathers and mothers name. Fair enough, but again, the amount of fucks I give about a birth certificate, which is meaningless and unnecessary is astonishingly close to zero.
Gender as stated on your birth certificate. My gender was fuck off. Why the fuck do you think I'm applying for this shit. Let's move on. "As part of your application, you must provide evidence to demonstrate that you have lived full time in your acquired gender for at least two years (up to the date of your application)". Ok so it doesn't matter about 7 years out of 9, let's look at the last two. I'm a vagina and boob haver. That's enough for cis people, it should be enough for you, but clearly not, as trans people are lower class. "Please give the date from which you can provide evidence that you have lived full time in your acquired gender". Now you're asking me something different. I can provide evidence but you only wanted it for two years. And my gender isn't "acquired". I haven't fucking stolen it, it's mine. I wouldn't go through everything I did if I really wasn't totally convinced I am who I say I am. "Please use the box in section 11 of this application form to list the evidence you will provide" Hahaha, what, you want pictures of my junk or something? Ok next up: medical report A. Yes I have a psych report. It even includes the word "transsexual". Wait, you want me to provide a daytime contact number of the psych? Isn't that your job - you have the name and address, you can search the medical register yourself. Like if this was still £140 I would have given up by now. Medical report B. I guess this will be my surgeon. I'll just fill in what I know. Ok stat dec time. "I promise to be myself until death" basically. I mean honestly, if I changed my body this radically, not wanting it like this always was a pretty major fuck up. This is insulting. It took me 8 phone calls, during a pandemic to find a suitable legal person to do this. Now I was forewarned - the actual legal cost of a stat dec is £5, that's what the statute is in law. I know this because I'm a chatterbox and talk to other people trying to get their actual gender recognised by the cistocracy. One place was asking £60. Now if I was not so much of a chatterbox, this would have easily taken the fee up to £200 (pre fee-cut) I would have walked away already. It's astounding that they were bemused as to why people don't "apply" for this shit. As it stands I found a lovely chatty guy who was happy to do it for £10. He was so sweet, and fessed up saying he'd never done one like that before. I'm seeing him tomorrow, I liked his honesty, he was a bit aghast that I had to go through things like this. But of course trans people aren't always this lucky. Intersectional oppressions mean we're shafted from every angle all the time by a cis-dominated society that can't wait to enforce its binary systems on us. So far the process has taken a few hours phoning legal people, and reading through the paperwork, being told it's a pandemic half the time, or fending off being ripped off by legal thieves. I'm also pretty angry and insulted by the form... but oh... it gets better. There's a bit about marriage and civil partners which doesn't apply to me. Great. I'll have to get a postal order, for £5 as I'm not giving them my bank details. They're not a shop. I'm not buying a service. I'm being asked to jump hurdles because I'm not cis. So far the cost is £15 plus 2 hours of reading and labour. Ok, so checklist: 1) Stat Dec (please note this will not be returned)..... have they not got a scanner? Every legal document is scanned these days. I bought my house with scanned documents, scanned ID etc etc. *sigh* I'll scan it myself. The form required for a stat dec for a GRC is T467, in case you were interested. 2) Spouse dec - that's the point, I want a spouse.
3) Your original birth certificate or certified copy. Wait, what? I don't have it, you didn't ask for it originally. I don't want to ask for a birth certificate in another name. Why do they need this? I ask google about getting one: legalvitals.com ask £80 for this service plus a "digital copy". - Seems shady, let's look at https://www.gov.uk/order-copy-birth-death-marriage-certificate
£14 and wait for 4 days instead. Geez the levels of extortion for this are gruesome. No wonder the un-wary end up spending a thousand on this. Ok so that takes us up to £29, I'm such a cheap-ass. And you need a debit card now, as well as the ability to download and print stuff, get to a post office. Y'know just weighing this up for disabled people and more disadvantaged people. It's a big ask for things that cis people just take for granted. Next is a load of stuff about marriages. Not applicable, thankfully. 4) Copy of all change of name documents or other documents to show any changes from the name appearing on your birth certificate to your current name Ok, I can send you a copy, no problem. Because I'm organised like that, being a woman. (No that's sarcasm not sexism). 5) Medical report A and B. Sure, have a copy. It's a bit invasive, but whatever. I can even send you medical report C from a really sweet GP.
6) Here's the biggie "Evidence of living full time in your acquired gender for at least 2 years prior to the date of application (List documents)".
"You must provide original documents or certified copies wherever possible which we will return to you by special delivery post". I'll scan them, that's good enough for legal departments.
Here's what they count as evidence:
"Evidence could take a variety of forms. The following lists some examples:
• Official documentation e.g. driving licence and passport;
• Payslips or HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) documents such as a P60 or P45;
• Department of Work and Pensions or HMRC benefit or tax letters or documents;
• Bank or other financial institution documents or statements;
• Letters from official, professional or business organisations such as from solicitors, accountants, dentists, doctors, employers or letters from people who know you on a personal basis;
• Utility bills;
• Academic certificates or documentation;
• Health Care or identity cards including photo ID issued by an official organisation. This list is not exhaustive and is only intended as a guideline"
So, let me get this absolutely clear: They want photographic evidence, they want to know where I work, how much I earn, what my income and expenditure is, they want all my ID, and to risk everything getting lost in the post. It's an identity thief's dream. And what, exactly, has this got to do with my gender or my primary and secondary characteristics? I can prove that I've lived full time with my vagina for the last 7 years. But they don't want that. This is for the scrutiny of an anonymous panel made up of religious people, medical people (we all know the NHS is institutionally transphobic), and basically people in power. People who routinely abuse this power against ts men and women who have the audacity to try live like anyone else. Often it's people in power who use this to do harm, I've experienced this often. I have absolutely no reassurance that abuse will not happen because of this and the perpetrators will be protected by the system. Frankly, it's a leap of faith, and pretty scary.
No other marginalised group has to suffer this kind of indignity. It was bad enough having to order a birth certificate in my old name - which, if I were to use, which I'm being asked to, is an offense against my Deed Poll. Yes, it is... my Deed Poll makes it clear that I can't use that name for any purpose, and this is quite clearly using it for a legal purpose! Ok, so I'll try and keep some decorum, you know, do a bit of womaning. Let's see how they respond to no photo's. No copies of finances that are in any way recent. They have my surgical letter, even a copy of the op notes. If that's not good enough then I don't know how they legally define sex.
The people who are involved in communications are pretty good, and responded to my enquiries quite quickly. I was under the impression that the process would take 6 weeks, however, at present - in August 2021, the wait is about 6 months. So I'm patiently awaiting a decision in 6 months time. I think this would be handy to know for people who are waiting to get a job, or get married that they can knock 6 months off the statutory waiting time if they're mid-transition.
3 months later...
It finally came through mid-November, although my supporting documents weren't all returned, although I did get my passport back. I'm glad that they don't actually need photographic evidence. This was kind of surprising, but also quite comforting, as there's nothing more uncomfortable than cis gaze scrutinising you. What wasn't included in the returned documents included my diagnosis of GD and a report from the surgeon. What this would mean is that if I were to apply for any other treatment, such as FFS or BA, then I'd need to go through the GIC - again time and money. Of course I sent them a copy, because I didn't trust them or the process (trust is hard to find when you're trans). So if there are any documents you think are quite precious like this - do think about sending a copy, rather than the actual letter. Some people are very organised and scan everything into their computer these days, and I salute you for your organisational skills! The certificate itself is very drab, thin, fragile, and ugly. If I could recommend improvements; use an old fashioned typewriter and make the paper both thicker and maybe add some sparkles, after all, it's quite a process we have to go through. In the top corner, there's a number, which I assume is the number of GRC's actually given out. At the time of writing, over ~7500 GRC's have been given out - some 50% more than the commonly quoted 5k 2018 figure. With the certificate is some out-of-date advice about pensions which seems unchanged since GRC's were made a thing 17 years ago, among other things. Overall, how do I feel about the process now it's over? Thirty quid trans tax and six months later? Well... meh. I don't need validation from a piece of paper no-one is ever going to see, but at least I can get married in the right gender. Time to rinse and repeat and make an honest woman of my love!
A few months later, I got an email from some people called the "General register office". Who these people are I don't know, but they wanted me to confirm the details for my new birth certificate. I wasn't particularly bothered about it as I don't use my birth certificate for anything, but they've been particularly keen to extract another £11 out of me. I have no idea why or who they are. So the total cost including this step is now a £40 trans tax, a full 8 times as much as the application fee.