A petition demanding reform to the Gender Recognition Act has triggered a debate on self-identification in the House of Commons.

It is scheduled for 21 February after 137,271 people called on the UK government to make it easier for transgender and non-binary people to self-identify.

“Reform the GRA to allow transgender people to self-identify without the need for a medical diagnosis, to streamline the administrative process, and to allow non-binary identities to be legally recognised,” part of it stated.

The petition, which ran for six months and closed on 24 January, achieved well above the 100,000 names required to have a topic considered for debate in Parliament.

In 2020, the government put plans to reform the Act to simplify the self-identification process on the backburner – something that was met with fierce criticism from LGBTQ+ activists.

However, some campaigners claiming to be advocating for women’s rights viewed these changes as a threat to public single-sex spaces.

Those behind the petition accused the government of ignoring the findings of its consultation that found 70% of respondents were in favour of allowing trans people to self-identify without undergoing medical procedures.

“The response gathered by the government showed strong support for this reform with 70% in favour, but the results seem to have been ignored by policy makers,” the petition continued.

“The current process is distressing and often humiliating for transgender people, as well as lengthy and costly making it inaccessible to many people. Reform is needed to improve the lives of trans people, and I don’t think the proposed measures will negatively impact existing provisions under the Equalities Act.”

A response from the government on October 7 2020 said it knows “from our research that improving healthcare support is a priority for transgender people.”

It also stated: “We want transgender people to be free to live and to prosper in modern Britain. We have looked carefully at the issues raised in the consultation, including potential changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

“It is the Government’s view that the balance struck in this legislation is correct, in that there are proper checks and balances in the system and also support for people who want to change their legal sex.”

The upcoming Westminster Hall debate will give supporters of reform the opportunity to push their case back to the top of the agenda.

It will be available to watch on the UK Parliament YouTube channel here.