A nice bit of news today: one of my Brighton friends (L---) has got her Gender Recognition Certificate! I'm very pleased to hear it, and really happy for her.
I've no idea how many applications for a certificate have been dealt with over the years since 2004. I'm guessing that the cumulative figure is around 3,000 - meaning (maybe) that about half of those who get as far as genital surgery eventually apply for a GRC as well, although there is no absolute requirement to have surgery before going for your GRC.
Why doesn't everyone apply for one? Some can't, because of the rules. For some, the process is offputting. And perhaps the irreversability of the GRC is too big a step for those who are not quite sure of their transsexuality: once you have your Certificate there is no going back. It commits you absolutely for the rest of your life. No reversion is possible. So if someone thought they were a woman, convinced everyone that they were, got their GRC, but then later on reconsidered the matter and reverted to a male life, they'd be stuck. They might restore a male appearance and lifestyle, and possibly a male sexual function, but they would remain officially a woman - with of course significant consequences!
And for those who scorn mere bits of paper, there is no very compelling advantage that flows from permanently adopting a different 'official' gender. If MTF, you can easily get a 'female' passport and driving licence without a GRC. And if nobody is likely to ask for your Birth Certificate, what else would drive you to apply?
There might be some particular advantage that would make it worth the effort. In my own case, I will get my State Pension a couple of years earlier than I would have otherwise. But please don't think that I transitioned - with all the trauma and loss involved - then got my GRC, merely to get a bit more cash out of the government! That wasn't the Glittering Prize that kept me going. The GRC itself wasn't the Glittering Prize. It was simply being the real me, and getting out into the world and accepted as the real me.
The number of applications made keeps the Panel that considers them pretty busy. Last year they looked at over 300 applications. Their remit is to OK them if they possibly can, but they are bound to be nitpicking where the legal rules are concerned, and to require proper evidence of such things a 'full time living', and of any surgery. Basically, you will not succeed if you haven't been accumulating good paper evidence of female presentation and living for a long time, or if your surgery was done illegally by an unaccredited surgeon in Rhinoland.
Apparently the initial failure rate for applications is about 40%. However, the Panel prefer not to reject any of these completely, and their practice is to simply request further information. Often when this is supplied the applicant is then successful. And indeed, nearly 90% of last year's applications were ultimately successful. So although the process seems a bit daunting, it isn't by any means futile to try.
My friend L--- is really thrilled. And it certainly is a huge thing to be 'officially' or 'legally' a woman - as the public would understand such notions. I got my GRC last March and I'm still over the moon about it, and indeed proud of it. It rounded off my transition (or the main part of it) rather nicely. I now feel free (subject only to executing the second Deed Poll that I've been mentioning recently) to do anything that a woman can do or ask for. What a good place to be. And how unjustly treated are those who are in pre-transition marriages that are still working, still alive and kicking, still sacred perhaps, and who can't get a GRC because of silly rules insisted upon before the Gender Recognition Act 2004 took its final shape. They are not in a good place at all.
Another Brighton friend (A---) has also sent off her own application, and I'm thinking she will hear about it soon. No reason to think she will fail. And then she too will have the satisfaction that a GRC brings!
My goodness, it's like a 1/1 honours degree pass! Really.