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Children’s author expresses view on equality law.

Sir Keir Starmer has finally come off the fence on trans rights. He recently stated that

A woman is a female adult and, in addition to that, trans women are women, and that is not just my view – that is actually the law” adding “It has been the law through the combined effects of the 2004 [Gender Recognition] Act and the 2010 [Equality] Act.” This is to be applauded.

However, well-known legal academic and specialist in this field we mean children's author with a BA in French, JK Rowling, stated in a tweet that “Keir Starmer publicly misrepresents equalities law”, failing to provide any justification. This children’s author’s view about the position taken by an ex-barrister who was previously Director of Public Prosecutions and Head of the CPS was obviously deemed newsworthy by not just the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, but the Times, Guardian, Telegraph, Independent, Evening Standard and Sky News.


Hold the front page. No wait, please don’t, actually. Because as you might expect, Keir Starmer was absolutely correct. Trans women are recognised as women by the executive and in law; the extent of the recognition depends on the stage of their transition and whether they have satisfied certain formal requirements.

  • A trans woman who has not yet begun her transition can still be protected from discriminatory dismissal [Equality Act 2010 (‘EA 2010’)].

  • A trans woman can change her name merely by adopting a new name and requiring everyone to use it.

  • A trans woman who is living as a woman can declare she is a woman in the Scottish Census [Fair Play for Women v The Register General for Scotland [2022] CSIH 7].

  • A trans woman with evidence of her change of name (e.g., deed of change of name, statutory declaration) can change her sex on her driving licence.

  • A trans woman with a letter from her GP can change her sex on her passport.

  • A trans woman who has made sufficient progress in her transition cannot be excluded from female-only spaces in the course of her employment (and by extension from services to the public as well) [EA 2010, Croft v Royal Mail [2003] EWCA Civ 1045, Equality and Human Right’s Commission’s Services, Public Functions and Associations Statutory Code of Practice as confirmed by the High Court in AEA v EHRC [2021] EWHC 1623 (Admin)].

  • A trans woman who has made a complete transition or has a Gender Recognition Certificate (‘GRC’) will be viewed as female for the purpose of female-only roles [EA 2010, Gender Recognition Act 2004 (‘GRA 2004’), A v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police [2004] UKHL 21].

  • A trans woman with a GRC can change the sex and name on her birth certificate [GRA 2004].

Well done to Keir Starmer for knowing these basic facts. It seems like passing those law exams and becoming one of the most prominent lawyers of his generation wasn’t all in vain. Though, obviously, he’s not yet managed to write any children’s books.

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The Trans Legal Project blog is a place where we express opinions and offer commentary on aspects of the law, recent or upcoming cases etc.

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