Firm plans to boost the rights of transgender people could finally be published this month after a two-year wait.
Tory ministers say they are “hopeful” that plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act will be published in the coming weeks.
It could mean the policy – which has been in the offing since at least summer 2017 – is be confirmed just days before the next Prime Minister takes power.
If the plans are not put to Parliament before July 25, campaigners will have to wait until after MPs’ summer break in September.
Theresa May said in 2017 being transgender is “not an illness” and proposed changes, including giving people more power to change their legal gender.
Currently trans people must prove they have lived in their gender for two years and have a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.
A consultation closed nine months ago.
Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt told Pink News: “I’m hopeful that we will be able to get both the response to the consultation and what we’re planning on doing out there before the summer recess.”
She added: “We’re working to get it out the door as soon as possible. I’m sorry it’s taken so long, but we needed to do a proper job on it.”
Environment Secretary Michael Gove added: “If you are seeking gender reassignment within the NHS then it’s initially treated as a mental illness.
“It’s not. It never should be.
“We should make it as easy and as pain-free and as supportive and as transformative and as optimistic and as life-affirming as possible for people to ensure they can be who they truly are.”
But Jeremy Corbyn condemned the “delay” today. The Labour leader wrote for PinkNews: “We’ve also got to reject the divisions that some are trying to sow between trans people and others in the LGBT+ community.
“In the past month, it has been reported that hate crimes against trans people are up 81%.
“This has been made worse by the Government’s delay in reforming the Gender Recognition Act, but it’s what happens when there is a concerted campaign by some in the media. That horrible anti-trans campaign mirrors attacks against gay men and lesbians in the 1980s.”
Fellow Tory equalities minister Baroness Williams of Trafford confirmed the government would press ahead, though she said only it would be “this year”.
She told Pink News’ summer reception in Westminster: “This year we will respond to the Gender Recognition Act consultation and I know you are impatient to see that done.”
Baroness Williams added the government will bring forward a consultation on ending so-called “conversion therapy”, and “press ahead” with more LGBT-inclusive relationships education in schools.
Speaking after a band of parents staged months of protests against LGBT-inclusive education at a Birmingham school, she said: “I will not pretend this work will be easy.
“There are likely to be difficult conversations to come, but we must have them.”
Meanwhile Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed he has started a review of access to IVF for LGBT couples who want to start a family.
He told the reception: “We have begun a review in the Department of Health and Social Care into IVF equality.
“We have begun that review and let us see it through to fruition. There is so much more we need to do as a nation.”
However, sources stressed afterwards that the review was only at an early stage and terms of reference have not yet been drawn up.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove , who also spoke at the reception, called for homophobic attacks to be made a specific aggravated offence under hate crime law.
And Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry called for countries that refuse to scrap homophobic laws to be expelled from the Commonwealth – “starting with Brunei”.
MPs also confirmed they will launch a legal bid next week to legalise gay marriage in Northern Ireland.
Lib Dem MP Chuka Umunna told the reception: “There’s been a huge amount of progress but the battle has certainly not been won.
“We will be arguing and supporting all the moves on Monday next week to amend the Northern Ireland Bill, that we will be considering probably on Monday or Tuesday, to ensure we have equal rights to marriage in that important part of our union.”
Speaker of the House of Lords Norman Fowler urged MPs to act.
Lord Fowler, who led the famed ’don’t die of ignorance’ AIDS campaign when in government, said “there are very obvious gaps” in LGBT rights.
He added: “There is one very obvious gap in Northern Ireland which should be closed sooner rather than later.”