Some feminists we interviewed worried that decertification would undermine the ability to collect sex/gender data, run sex/gender-specific provision, maintain effective equality law protections, and have women-only activities and spaces. We explored different ways that these concerns could be addressed whilst also assessing the implications and limits of some of the solutions posed (such as risk assessment and privacy).
We also used criticism of decertification to explore more fundamental issues. For instance, underlying the question of sex-segregated sport are broader questions about what fair competition means, how it can best be advanced, and what competition in sports is for. Similarly, fears about opportunistic claims to membership in disadvantaged groups, such as women, for positive action purposes prompt broader questions about social equality, the value of measures that target groups, and whether people need to be formally designated as members of groups (such as women) for group-based positive action to work.
In most circumstances, in Britain today, approaching gender through self-identification makes practical sense. This does not mean that gender develops, in our society, principally through self-identification. To understand gender as the result of self-authorship alone would miss the social processes that shape how gender is formed and operates, and what gender means. However, self-identification avoids some of the harmful and degrading consequences that emerge when registration systems or body checks are relied upon. Determinations of sex at birth contribute to the social experience of gender, but the relationship between birth-recorded sex and the lived experience of gender is a complex and varied one. Birth registered sex does not provide an adequate basis for addressing social inequalities relating to gender.
Read more about these challenges/solutions.