Today, I have laid the Gender Recognition (Disclosure of Information) (England) Order 2022 in Parliament. This statutory instrument will make a minor change under the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004 in order to facilitate the invaluable research being undertaken as part of Dr Hilary Cass independent review of gender identity services for children and young people (the Cass review).
Under the Gender Recognition Act 2004, it is an offence for a person acting in an official capacity to disclose information about the gender history of a person with a gender recognition certificate (GRC). The Act calls this “protected information”, with some existing exemptions, such as where disclosure is to prevent or investigate crime, or the subject of the information agrees to the disclosure.
The order I have laid today will add a further exemption to the GRA so that a closely defined class of people who facilitate, assist and carry out the research for the Cass review will be able to disclose protected information to each other during the course of their work. Without access to information currently protected under the Act, a significant portion of the available data on health outcomes would have to be removed from the study. This would subsequently prevent Dr Cass review from being able to provide robust recommendations rooted in the best available clinical evidence about how this care can best be provided.
This data will allow us to plan the provision of these services from a world-leading clinical evidence base, to promote better health outcomes for those who use these important services. I firmly believe that this will help enable further debate on these issues to be informed by the best available clinical evidence which will better serve everyone, not least children.
I remain committed to upholding the rights and privacy of transgender people, so this data will be carefully controlled. Only those working for a small number of organisations listed in the order and who are involved in the research will be able to access protected information and share it with each other. Furthermore, those within this closed circle will only be able to access and share the data if doing so is genuinely necessary in order to facilitate, assist or carry out research as part of the Cass review.
As an additional safeguard, the order will expire after a period of five years which is the maximum amount of time that we believe the project will take. The order does not allow patient identifiable information to be made public through the course of this research, and any research outputs subsequently published will be fully anonymised.