A York student has created an online petition calling on the government to make it easier for people to change their own legal gender.
The proposal would allow transgender people to skip a currently lengthy procedure and update their birth certificate without the need for a costly medical check.
People have flooded to support the campaign with over 20,000 people signing the petition, despite having been online for barely a week.
Langwith student Ashley Reed set up the petition on July 22, two days after the government’s new e-petitions site opened, and has quickly seen it rocket to one of the most popular appeals on the site.
According to the rules of the site, the government are preparing an official response to the campaign, with the issue set to be debated in parliament if it reaches 100,000 signatures.
The 20-year-old English Literature student said: “I was prompted to start the petition after the Irish Gender Recognition Bill passed into law, with major news outlets covering the story as Ireland allowing trans* people to self-define their legal gender.”
She also hopes her petition will get non-binary gender identities, where a person is neither only male nor only female, recognised as legal genders.
Under the current system in the UK, people are required to pay £140 for the Gender Recognition Panel to consider their case for gender reassignment.
Reed slammed the “expensive, time-consuming and distressing” procedure adding: “It costs variable amounts to get a letter from a specialist depending on whether you want to wait years and years on the NHS or get it written privately and travel is really expensive.”
“There isn’t even a clinic in Wales, for instance, and only one in the whole of Scotland.”
For transgender people, not getting their identified gender legally recognised could result in them being put in a male or female only prison according to their original sex.
According to a government report, even paying through the nose won’t guarantee the applicant their sought-after Gender Recognition Certificate, with 20% of applications being regularly rejected.
Reed gives a more detailed description of what her petition hopes to achieve in the YouTube video below.
On the petition’s overwhelming support, she said: “I’m really overjoyed to see the huge amount of support it has gotten, with Stonewall, Peter Tatchell, GIRES, UKTransInfo etc. all coming out to publicise it, and I’m hoping that this will make it to debate one way or another at some point in the next year.”
Earlier this year, Nouse reported on a student who started a petition to get York landlords to recognise trans* people by altering “problematic” gender questions.