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Gender, Identity and Treatment

Identifying as non-binary encompasses people whose gender identity does not comfortably equate with ‘man’ or ‘woman’. Non-binary identities are varied with some people having gender experiences involving being both a man and a woman, whilst others are more fluid or reject gender identities altogether.

Gender dsyphoria occurs when a person’s gender identity is inconsistent with the gender they were assigned at birth. It can raise challenging issues emotionally, medically and legally when individuals seek to transition from female to male, male to female or assume a non-binary identity (neither exclusively male or female).

Gender dysphoria can create particularly complex legal and practical issues about whether a young person (under 16-years-old or 16 to 18-years-old has capacity to consent to puberty blockers and cross-sex hormone treatment and the appropriateness of that treatment.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 enables individuals in the UK with gender dsyphoria to change their legal gender by obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). Upon grant of a GRC, an individual assumes their ‘acquired gender’ (although there are still some exceptions in law).

They can then obtain a British birth certificate reflecting their recognised legal gender.

Fertility Preservation

Changing gender can result in infertility. This makes it important to consider fertility preservation options before undertaking gender reassignment hormone or surgical treatment. This helps to maximise the chances of successfully achieving a biological child/ren in future through assisted conception.

For individuals seeking to transition from female to male, the following fertility preservation options may apply:

  • egg freezing
  • ovarian tissue freezing (still experimental and there is only limited data available on its efficacy)
  • embryo freezing

For individuals seeking to transition from male to female, the following fertility preservation options may apply:

  • sperm freezing
  • testicular tissue freezing (still experimental)
  • embryo freezing

Fertility Treatment

In cases where an individual is already taking hormone therapy or drugs it can sometimes be possible to temporarily reverse treatment to freeze their eggs or sperm. However, the longer an individual has taken hormone therapy, the greater the chances their fertility will have been compromised or lost. It can also be difficult and upsetting to stop taking hormone therapy and some individuals may as a result wish to consider conception arrangements with donor eggs or sperm.

In cases where an individual has undergone genital surgery, which can include removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries, womb, testes and penis, there are various assisted conception and fertility treatment options to consider to have a child including:

  • IVF and ICSI
  • Egg donation
  • Sperm donation
  • Embryo donation
  • Surrogacy

We are supportive and open-minded. We appreciate the importance of handling personal issues carefully and sensitively. We work closely with you and tailor our legal services to best suit your individual needs and wishes. Our preeminent legal expertise spans the fertility, medical and family law sectors. We provide bespoke legal solutions and cutting-edge legal advice, operating at the forefront of law and policy in the UK.

How we can help

Our expert fertility and family lawyer services include:

  • Legal packages.
  • Bespoke legal advice for your situation, needs and wishes.
  • Preparation of legal documentation.
  • Legal support and representation in court proceedings.

We have leading expertise in navigating and resolving complex fertility and family law and situations with a transgender or genetic aspect, including:

  • Whether a young person has capacity to consent to puberty blockers and cross-sex hormone treatment and should proceed with treatment.
  • Legal issues/options where individuals face impaired/lost fertility due to change in gender, complex personal circumstances or delayed parenthood.
  • Difficulties with storage and use of frozen eggs/sperm/embryos in fertility treatment in the UK (e.g. problems with consent).
  • Intra-family donation, fertility treatment and family building (e.g. using donor eggs or sperm from a relative to provide a genetic family connection with a child).
  • Legal issues associated with egg, sperm and embryo donation, known donation and co-parenting arrangements.
  • Legal issues and process for obtaining a gender recognition certificate.
  • Legal parentage issues and disputes (e.g. declaration of parentage, step-parent adoption or parentage dispute with an ex-partner, donor or surrogate).
  • Care and upbringing of children following a dispute with an ex-partner, parent, donor or surrogate (e.g. contact, residence, financial arrangements, parental responsibility, specific issue or prohibited steps order).

News & Commentary

Our Expert lawyer Louisa Ghevaert regularly commentates on fertility and family law and cases concerning transgender, non binary and genetic issues, including:

“Gender Dysphoria, Puberty Blockers and Hormone Replacement Therapy: Treatment of A Young Person” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog, 17 May 2024).

“Egg, sperm and embryo freezing: what could go wrong?” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog, 20 June 2022).

“The intricacies of fertility preservation” (podcast with Louisa Ghevaert and Eloise Edington, founder of fertility lifestyle platform Fertility Help Hub,17 December 2020).

“Legal parentage disputes: modern families and the law” (Louisa Ghevaert Associates’ blog, 18 November 2020).

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