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In contrast to some systems elsewhere in the world, the Gender Recognition process does not require applicants to be post-operative.

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The government has not responded as of June 2016 In September 2015 the Ministry of Justice responded to a petition calling for self-determination of legal gender, saying that they were not aware of "any specific detriment" experienced by nonbinary people unable to have their genders legally recognised.

In January 2016 the Trans Inquiry Report by the Women and Equalities Committee called for nonbinary people to be protected from discrimination under the Equality Act, for the X gender marker to be added to passports, and for a wholesale review into the needs of nonbinary people by the government within six months.

The case was held secretly and in a Scottish court, and there was not a publicly reported case in an English court until 1970.

That year, in the case of Corbett v Corbett, Arthur Corbett attempted to annul his marriage to April Ashley on the grounds that transsexuals were not recognised by English law.

A person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person's sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.

In 2018, a spokesperson for the Government Equalities Office maintained that the government had no plans to amend the Equality Act 2010 either directly or indirectly (for example, by reform of the Gender Recognition Act) and that it planned to maintain the Equality Act's "provision for single and separate sex spaces." This means that transgender people still do not have a right to use single-sex spaces such as toilets and changing rooms.

Since the 1990s, a series of laws have gradually been affording more rights and protections to transgender people in the United Kingdom in the areas of identity documents, right to marry, and anti-discrimination measures in the areas of employment, education, housing, and services.

Transgender people were sometimes able to have identity documents informally amended until a 1970 ruling, which would end the practice for the following decades.

The government chose to retain this requirement in the Act as effectively it would have legalised a small category of same-sex marriages.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 allowed the creation of civil partnerships between same-sex couples, but a married couple that includes a transgender partner cannot simply re-register their new status.

After a 2002 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights against the UK government, Parliament passed the Gender Recognition Act of 2004 to allow people to apply to change their legal gender.