And on to the discrimination case…

Here goes.a copy of what i have now sent to the EHRC to see if they’ll give me “strategic support”. If they won’t, that’s OK…i’ll just head off to county court to take the case forward separately.

Meanwhile, any thoughts anyone has in respect of the argument. Also, anyone else who has suffered from GIC’s in this way, please let me know. All cases gratefully received.

jane
xx

The grounds for claiming discrimination are as follows:

1. I am transgendered. I was diagnosed as gender dysphoric earlier this year, and am pursuing a course of treatment that will lead, in time, to full gender re-assignment following.
2. I have been living full time “in role” since January 2010, including dressing, and as far as possible living as female. I have amended my name in respect of all significant services (including tax, voting and VAT) to be consistent with my personal identity.
3. It has been my experience that the majority of organisations with whom I have dealt – including the Inland Revenue, NHS, Customs and Excise, Utilities, Electoral Registration, the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages and many more besides – have been happy to change my name details on the basis that I prove my entitlement to services or privileges under guise of my old name and then simply to switch to my new name version.
4. A Home Office legal adviser has confirmed to myself that there is no such thing as a “legal name” in UK law: this has been further confirmed by a number of legal experts.
5. Earlier this year, I was referred to the NHS Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross in London for treatment in respect of gender dysphoria. They have stated both verbally and on the record that they will not recognise a change of name without production of a deed poll (or possibly statutory declaration).
6. This practice is at variance with the practice of all other government departments that I have dealt with (see 3. above), including the NHS own guidelines on the subject, which urge medical staff to deal with an individual according to the gender in which they present and as they would wish to be identified – and which permits individuals to change their name within the NHS own computer system on the basis of a simple verbal request for same.
7. I have been informed by management at the Gender Identity Clinic that even where an individual’s name has been changed within the NHS system, they will continue to use that individual’s previous name unless a deed poll is produced.
8. It is my understanding that the GIC do not apply the deed poll requirement to their own cis members of staff: this is therefore directly discriminatory, as the organisation applies different standards to cis and trans persons.
9. On visiting the GIC, my previous name was called out in public, by a consultant, in front of other members of the public even after I made it known to a member of staff at the GIC that I no longer used that name. This was both humiliating and acutely embarrassing.

It is my contention that this treatment is discriminatory in respect of transgendered individuals because it is applying a test to such individuals that is not applied to others. Specifically,

10. The GIC requires that individuals demonstrate “proof” of living in role. In fact, the effort required to obtain a deed poll is minimal: a cost of £5-£10 and a simple form that can be filled and obtained in an hour or less. The real effort to living in role is demonstrated by actually changing one’s name across a large number of bureaucratic systems: being known by that name in everyday life, to friends, family and work colleagues; and, more seriously, enduring the everyday burden of on-street transphobia that is the lot of most early days trans men and women.
11. In the case of the GIC, the fact that they appear not to require documentation to show staff members have changed names is an instance of direct discrimination in the way that they treat trans and cis individuals.
12. Varying explanations may be put forward around either security or computer integrity. These may be complex but in most cases resolve either to poor system design or organisational fossilisation: the view that because this is how the system works, it is how it should work. In fact, there are very few places where systems could not be amended very easily and very quickly to take account of changing names, with no loss of integrity or security. In no case does documentation of any sort help to make the case more strongly.
13. Although the demand for a deed poll is a small request, it is part of a wider pattern, which sees organisations continuing to place requirements for documentation on the transgendered and on women that tend not to be encountered by men. This is therefore an instance of sex discrimination in its purest form.
14. It is further humiliating, since it constitutes a social statement that an individual’s identity is not affirmed unless they pay for a piece of paper to confirm that identity: the GIC has also threatened that where an individual fails to obtain a deed poll, hormone treatment may be withheld or even withdrawn. This has such significant consequences for trans individuals that it cannot be seen as anything except the most egregious form of social control.

In addition to the above, it may be helpful to bear in mind that I am in the process of preparing a paper on behalf of to submit to the Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone, that argues that the demand by many organisations for documentation before they will recognise a change of name (deed poll for transgendered individuals: marriage or divorce certificate for women) is in most cases discriminatory on grounds of gender.

I believe that this case is worthy of support by the EHRC because there is an important point of principle at stake here that affects the lives of almost half the adult population in the UK – transgendered and women alike. The demand for proof of identity has become entangled with a non-concept – the “legal name” – and it is time that the two ideas were disentangled once more.

11 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Natacha Kennedy said,

    Great Stuff Jane!

    You could also try looking at;

    UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 12.

    and the European convention on Human Rights (which I think may be incorporated into UK law now) Articles 3, 4, 8 & 14.

    Natacha

  2. 2

    Tessa said,

    Um, hi, I’d like to contribute my experience at the GIC, but I don’t know where to email?

    I don’t really want to put it all in a comment post.

  3. 4

    Lucy Melford said,

    I’m sorry to hear that the consultant used your old name instead of your chosen name, and that you felt humiliated.

    Of course, he couldn’t have reasonably done that if you’d already changed your name by deed poll…

    But that’s a big step not lightly taken. I hesitated a long time before doing it, because once done I’d be obliged to tell the entire world who I now was, and at the beginning of my transition I just wasn’t ready to ‘go public’ so completely. Still, as soon as I had executed the deed poll I felt like a new woman, and wanted to tell everyone who I was, especially if they didn’t already know. I hoped I would be stopped in the street by strangers and asked who I was, and it was quite disappointing when nothing of the kind happened!

    I didn’t object to the deed poll process per se. In fact I was rather pleased that there WAS a recognised legal process to make my chosen name ‘official’.

    I suppose the position must be this: that in England you can, informally, call yourself anything you wish, but it only has the status of a nickname unless you adopt it legally. So if my driving licence or passport said I was Joe Bloggs, but I liked to be called Joe 90, I don’t think I could sue anyone if they wanted to call me Joe Bloggs. But if I changed my name by deed poll to Joe 90, and duly notified that person, then I’d expect to obtain legal redress if they still called me Joe Bloggs and I suffered harm by their doing so. Is that how it is?

    Lucy

    • 5

      janefae said,

      Hmmm. I’d say that’s not quite the way it works, and therefore my take on it is totally different.

      A deed poll is a renuniciation of past names and a supposed fixing of your new name – but don’t think it gives you any legal rights or, thereby, any right to redress if someone persists in using it. OK. You might try and do them for harassment…

      I guess that name change is a big thing, but for me, the actuality of doing it wasn’t. I shifted almost overnight…sent out a mass e-mail to most friends, relatives, colleagues…and from that day on was Jane. I have since adjusted reality with most of officialdom without any need for a deed poll, so don’t see it as a prob.

      To be honest, my biggest prob was practical: as a working writer/journalist, my old name scored about 100,000 hits on google in some circs…my new one initially drew zilch.

      Caused some temporary difficulties when approaching new press offices, as occasional disbelief that I was a journo…

      But anyway: I had no issues at all about jettisoning the old…and some practical stuff to work thru, like paying a PR agency to help manage the change-over, which was infinitely more expensive than just doing a deed poll.

      My objection to deed poll, therefore, has nothing to do with the cost, so much as to the fact it is demanded at all and my view that such demand is of itself discriminatory. You can change name without it…so why should my identity be made subject to whether or not I fill out a piece of paper?

      jane
      xx

  4. 6

    Tracie O'Keefe said,

    I don’t care whether people want to be called Jane , Jack or jumberwomba in our clinic we call them what they wish. Is that not good manners?

    However if you set other people up to diagnose you as this mysterious creature called a transgender then you set yourself up to be set apart at the hands of others. Labels can harm as much as they can empower. Use them with care. All my patients tell me how they identify. They know best because they have to live their lives not me.

    I hope you get an appology because you certainly deserve one. One of the prim principles of medicine is do no harm. At the begining of the first session with a patient a clinician should make a note of how the person wishes to be adressed.

    Not following these principles is a breach of WPATH Standards of Care.

    As an aside the same thing happened to me at the old Charring Cross forty one years ago. Never got an apology. If I knew them what I know now I would have found somehwere else.

    Why would it take a change of name document to be polite?

    Good Luck

    Go in Peace

  5. 7

    Lucy Melford said,

    Yes, I see. I didn’t have your problem of your industry not connecting the new name with the journalist they knew by the old one. For me, a retired nonentity, the whole name change thing could be uncontraversial, and (dare I say it) more fun. But even now, I consider with awe the enormity of changing the name I bore for 57 years, and I marvel at the daring of it.

    As to discrimination, I perfectly see your point, but don’t myself feel moved to take up a great fight over it. I know…I should; but I’d rather save any inclinations in that direction for causes that seem to me a bit more important, like combating policies that might deny me the ability to travel freely, or essential health services, or basic work rights. If any British government actually began to treat a section of society (especially transsexuals) like Jews in Germany after Hitler came to power in 1933, then I would stand up and be counted, unless it meant detention and death – I’d then emigrate while I could. This merely flows from my non-confrontational personality; many would be quite different, and there’s no rights or wrongs here of course.

    I think this deed poll thing is just officialdom playing it safe. Annoying, but not a dire threat.

    In some US states, I understand you have to swear before a judge in court that you abjure use of your old name and willl for all purposes use the new one in the future. At least we don’t have to go through that.

    Lucy

    • 8

      janefae said,

      In one sense, Lucy, I agree with you. What on earth is the significance of a deed poll next to world peace, poverty, hunger, etc.?

      At another level, I take the opposing view for precisely that reason: because it IS a small issue. Its such a small issue that those in power could so easily retreat on it without conceding much: yet they continue to use it as a basis for threat and control; and if they won’t give way on this, what will they give way on?

      My own take on this whole issue – one that has developed rapidly – and radically – since the weekend, is that this is absolutely about identity and personal autonomy. It is about the right of individuals to define themselves and not be subject to validation by others: and I do not concede that right to anyone else…certainly not some unfeeling “expert”.

      So, it is the smallness of the issue that actually lends it weight. I don’t think I am particularly confrontational. Or rather, I have done everything in my power to avoid confrontation. I spoke nicely to the man. I explained my position. I have done that at length to various bodies, including ChX…and the abusive ones just ignore. They cannot conceive the idea that because they have expertise in one field, they do not have expertise all round.

      They are allegedly “experts” of the mind…and therefore that makes them experts in the Law? I don’t think so. Yet again, they blank, they negate, they invalidate anyone other than their own in-group.

      As for the US thing: er, yes. This is part of the problem. I rather think that some of the UK guidelines come direct from the States, where the legal position as regards names is very different. There is no “legal name” in the UK…so a deed poll is an irrelevance.

      jane
      xx

  6. 9

    Lucy Melford said,

    Well, good luck. I’ll be watching your progress!

    I take it you’re aware of other UK trans girls like Jo (her blog’s called ‘Brilliantgirlgenius’) and Chrissie (‘Chrissie’s Place’) who are have reason to be exasperated by officialdom or society in general.

    I’ve actually met Jo.

    Lucy

  7. 10

    Rachel Ann said,

    The biggest problem CXH GIC have they tell me is commitment, therefore they measure this by several factors, a primary one of these is documenting name change.

    When I first presented to them I had been self medicating for some while and although they sent me for blood work they still declined to prescribe until I documented name change. I did it, it was painless. THEN later they changed my meds, that was FAR from painless, but is way beyond the scope of this comment.

    My point is though that had I been able to continue as essentially self medicating but under private medical supervision I would have done so. I went to CX GIC because I needed to, not to get into a legal dispute with them even though the medication change caused considerable problems and would likely be grounds for complaint.

    I am back on my old regime now with their “approval” and the moral of that story is. One size does NOT fit all!

    Zoladex in my case which for some reason is now the anti A of choice with CX despite it’s astronomical cost and a possible side effect profile which which would make an SAS trooper think twice about jumping in.

    It horrifies me how many patients accept this implant without doing any research, the stuff has not even been trialled for use with estrogen for heavens sake. All I will say is anyone prescribed this implant is watch your blood pressure! I find CXH GIC adequate, but feel you need to keep a grip of things, enough said there except that I will add it seems to work safely for most people.

    Anyway.

    I don’t really understand the objection to documenting your name change? Stat Dec is quick, easy and (provided your solicitor is not profiteering) cheap. You prepare the document yourself, make an appointment and you and a notary public sign it, job done. If I recall five originals cost me £15. Not bad for a law firm that have a monopoly in my town.

    You then have something you can carry alongside your driving licence and other ID pending getting them changed. I have produced such to police several times and they are perfectly happy with this, just as well as the latest tribunal case looks likely to absorb all spare time and money up until Xmas and beyond.

    Without stat dec or deed poll you are going to find it a great deal harder to change other essential documents, what about your passport for instance?

    I have just submitted a case to tribunal against a vocational trainer and am being supported by ECHR after the solicitors I consulted opined this was the way forward and ECHR concurred. They have since assigned me a case worker and I must say he is much easier to work with than any solicitor I have dealt with in the past as he is far less motivated by money and therefore more principled IMO.

    As you may know legal aid is not available for tribunal cases and I would have preferred County Court myself having just spent many months preparing and winning a tribunal against DWP to allow me to go to this vocational trainer in the first place.

    I would therefore have been more than happy to sit back and let the solicitor fight the next round after they illegally excluded me to pander to the “sensitivities” of a gang of transphobic students who stated in front of a witness that they were “Going After The Tranny!”.

    A campaign of unsubstantiated complaints against me then ensued which culminated in management withdrawing the offer of a residential place. As they already knew from my application this was impractical and furthermore denied me access to grievance procedures they now have a claim for constructive dismissal against them.

    This is my second point. Cases tend to beget cases. You may argue that these kind of trans rights issues need fighting and I may actually agree. Welcome to the front line, go get em girl! You can have my foxhole because I am sooooo tired now.

    Having spent two years fighting hate crime and having been invited to join residents association committee (now I finally have time), almost another year on DWP tribunal case and now with the prospect of several more months on this latest case I had enough. I have done my tour people and intend to tie up the loose ends “take the money” and RUN, because the last three years have left me in a position of being so well known in my area stealth is simply not an option. Which even though it’s really nice to have people stopping for a chat and even to thank you when you go shopping is not really the life I had in mind when I went full time. Despite being at heart a “third genderist” who has to work with the gender binary model for practical reasons.

    The whole concept of suing a GIC in County Court baffles me frankly? What purpose does this serve unless they have injured you? and if you have the time and/or money to do this (and you will need plenty of both) why not just go private anyway?

    Anyway as I said, good luck with it all, will we be seeing this case in Jane Fae’s Guardian spot?

  8. 11

    Louise Harris said,

    I’m having name problems too, but not so traumatic. I think NHS practices must vary because in Hampshire people are called by whatever name they choose, with or without deed poll. I could enquire further if that would help.( Email if you want to talk further)


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