3. Submission from Christian Spirituality
Group for the Transgendered (The SIBYLS)
On behalf of this group I am writing to offer
a warm welcome to and our support for this bill. We are grateful
that the Government is bringing this bill forward and we would
thank all those who worked on its production. Affirmation of their
full legal status will make a huge difference for transsexual
people and put an end to embarrassments and disabilities to which
they have been subject.
The Sibyls is a Christian spirituality group
for people who are transgendered. It exists for the mutual support
of its members. Over the years it has gained wide support from
a considerable number of Christians from a wide variety of traditions,
including Evangelicals, who recognise our sincerity and how difficult
the lack of full legal status has been for us.
It is important that you are aware that very
many Christians are supportive. There are some who will oppose.
The Evangelical Alliance, the Christian Institute, will be vociferous
in their objections, and claim that they speak for Christians,
but they speak only for those holding their particular views.
An area of concern is that we have a few members
who are married and who have no wish to disturb that relationship.
Should they have to divorce to take advantage of the bill, there
are huge implications for them in matters of property, pension
rights, tax and inheritance tax, with potential hardship. We have
for example a couple in their 70s owning everything in common
to whom inheritance tax provisions are very important. We know
of one who remains married because her wife depends on a portion
of her pension which divorce would eliminate.
We would ask that consideration be given to
their predicament and that a way is found to give them full gender
recognition without the need to disturb the marriage.
One possible solution might lie in the Governments
expressed intention to bring in legislation for same-sex civil
partnerships. A clause could be inserted in that bill to allow
married couples, where both consent and one holds an interim gender
recognition certificate, to re-register their marriage as a same-sex
partnership with existing rights and duties continuing as if there
had been no change to the marriage.
On a procedural point, it might be helpful to
have a transsexual person on the Gender Recognition Panel, either
as a full member or as an assessor.
These issues apart, the bill is excellent, we
welcome it and wish it to succeed. The requirements are reasonable
and the process sensible. We give it our whole hearted support.
May God bless your deliberations and may the bill proceed rapidly
to the Royal Assent.
30 August 2003