Life is difficult for trans people but it shouldn’t be this hard

I came out as a trans male aged 14 and even though I have lived as male for four years, my records say I am legally female (Picture: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

Recently I was waiting in the doctor’s surgery, when my name came up on the display board it said ‘Miss’. It was heartbreaking.

I came out as a trans male aged 14 and even though I have lived as male for four years, my records say I am legally female.

I had to get up, as a man, answering to ‘Miss.’ As I walked past the other patients, all eyes were on me. Even though it was a very important appointment, I wanted to turn around and run.

It is crushing to be publicly misgendered when you’re trans. It can make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, and it can happen a lot. The biggest thing for me, and many of the other trans people I know, is about being legally recognised as the gender they are.

I am asked to show my ID all the time, for anything from buying alcohol to going to the cinema. Each time I’ve had to hand someone a card that said ‘F’ instead of ‘M’ has filled me with dread. I worry that I’ll be asked humiliating questions, or forced to ‘prove’ I am who I am.

Being recognised as trans is a very validating experience – getting family and friends on your side is a victory in itself. But being recognised by the law is a whole other thing on top of that, and it’s really important.

I was able to change my passport from F to M, and the day that came through the post – just after my 18th birthday – was the best present I could have wished for. It was incredible. I was ecstatic.

I see posts on Facebook from trans people posting pictures of their passports and driving licences. It’s such a huge milestone in their journey to be able to officially be identified as the gender they align with. It matters, and it’s a pivotal moment in a lot of people’s transition.

It can be really dangerous for someone who is trans to have identification that exposes them as not being the same ‘official’ gender as the one they live by.

There is so much hate crime – with a rise of 81 per cent in the past year alone – and even murders of trans people.

Before getting my passport changed, I felt unsafe carrying one that said ‘female’. You never know how people are going to react.

To have complete peace of mind, I now need to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate to update my original birth certificate to male.

I am happy living as a man, and I should be allowed to self-identify and live the rest of my life with as few obstacles in my way as possible

The process of getting this certificate is long and hard. There’s a complicated form, you need medical reports – including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria – and you also need to swear an oath in the presence of solicitors.

The form is then sent off to a panel of people who have never met you, who decide something this important and fundamental to your life.

The new Conservative Government must reform the Gender Recognition Act so that it doesn’t discriminate against trans people and is brought into line with human rights standards.

The current law means that trans people have to endure this long, expensive and demeaning process – including medical examinations – to ‘prove’ their gender identity. Imagine having a panel of strangers deciding if your declared gender has merit. It’s demoralising.

Under current law, if a trans person is married, their spouse also has the power to veto their transition process. This means someone else is effectively in control of their gender.

The law also has no way of recognising non-binary gender identities, and it also stipulates that you have to be over 18 years old to change your legal gender. On the whole, the process is distressing, complex, costly and inaccessible to many trans people.

I am not saying it should be easy – but it should be less difficult than it is now. I am happy living as a man, and I should be allowed to self-identify and live the rest of my life with as few obstacles in my way as possible.

I’m glad at least to see that gender dysphoria is no longer classed as a mental illness. 

I want people to know that I am trans. The gender I was assigned at birth does not match the gender I feel that I am. I have always felt male. I have never felt comfortable being seen as female. It just isn’t who I am.

Transitioning medically or physically isn’t something that should happen instantly – there has to be a process, and there needs to be a way of confirming that someone is trans, and has thought through the implications. But right now, there are simply too many hoops to go through.

Everyone has the right to be who they are.

You can help by signing Amnesty International, Gendered Intelligence and Mermaids’ petition which calls on the Government to reform the law.

MORE: Don’t believe what you read about transition regret

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