No sooner have I done my best, locking horns with government and business, to eject from the vocabulary that silliest of new-fangled ideas, the “legal name”, along comes another institution determined to create yet more fancyiful law. Only this time its all about “legal gender”.
What’s a girl to do?
The issue arises with some fairly ill-thought out stuff from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, who have just published the results of their “consultation” on recording sex and gender. Oh dear: I may have to declare an interest here, having worked alongside that pedantic body a few years back attempting to construct new reporting arcs.
Did I say pedantic. I meant screamingly, nit-pickingly, hair-tearingly pedantic in a Vogon poetic sort of way!
Back however, to this consultation, which appears to have been a mostly psychic exercise, since they appear to have “consulted” on an issue of immense sifgnificance to trans folk without actually talking – as far as anyone is aware – to anybody in the trans community.
They have come up with a scheme that maximises both offence and capacity for outing trans men and women at an exceedingly sentitive age, essentially by requiring they provide the HESA system with details of both birth gender and identified gender.
I’ll be asking them tomorrow if they aren’t aware that it might be breaching the gender recognition act. Meanwhile, if you want to read a little more about the details of this exercise, you are encouraged to meander over to the excellent “Trans Youth” blog which explains and deconstructs.
Meanwhile, my beef is this multiplication of pseudo-legal status. Its not the first time I’ve heard the phrase. The legal bod over at the Telegraph used it not that long back to justify mis-gendering a trans woman. The Telegraph were simply referencing the individual by their “legal gender”.
No. Sorry. As I said in the opening par, there ain’t no such thing. There are legal obligations – like not drinking and driving: or not using a false name for fraudulent purposes. But there’s no such thing as a “legal name”. Nor “legal gender”.
Although there is “official gender”, which may have some bearing when it comes to contracting a marriage or, until recently, obtaining a pension. To be honest, I am not altogether sure I know what a “legal” gender might be – any more than a “legal height”.
I can see it now: “You have been found guilty of six foot two. You shall therefore go to prison until five foot nine”. Or some equally nonsensical stuff.
No. There are obligations on people not to commit fraud, by fraudulently claiming certain things. But when it comes to higher education stats, I can see absolutely NO law whatsoever involved in the requirement to stump up some fictional “legal gender” .