The Liberal Democrat Party leader claimed that the current Tory majority government is not keeping up with the record it set on equality while in coalition with his party.
The UK lost its ranking as the best country on Europe on LGBT rights earlier this year, outstripped by Malta.
Other countries have pushed ahead on trans issues and gender issues – with Ireland introducing a revolutionary system that makes changing legal gender as simple as renewing a passport.
Though equalities minister Nicky Morgan says she is “open” to the idea, the government has rebuffed calls for a similar system.
In an article with the Huff Post, Mr Farron said:
“We are an open and liberal society, we should be a world leader on this issue, for trans children, non-binary adults and their families, but that will require work both in Parliament and outside it. I believe the barriers are coming down and I and my party will be doing our bit to help them on their way but ultimately this is a group effort and will require more awareness raising initiatives like this to drive the change.”
According to a recent poll carried out by the Huffington Post a majority (68%) of respondents say a person who was born male but has transitioned to become female should be housed in a women’s prison. This adds more pressure on the government to change “bonkers” rules described as “out of step with public opinion”.
Mr Farron’s comments come as the HuffPost UK launches TransBritain, a special series on transgender rights sparked by the deaths of two young trans women in all-male prisons, and the high-profile relocation of inmate Tara Hudson.
Jane Fae, a transgender campaigner and journalist, said the poll’s findings were “a very good thing” for trans prisoners.
“Ninety-nine times out of 100, that’s going to be the right answer. If you look at Tara Hudson, can you imagine putting someone like that amongst a group of largely undisciplined, criminal men? You know what is going to happen to them, and the idea that we should put them anywhere other than the female estate is bonkers.”
“Here is someone who is working their way towards getting that surgery, who is looking every bit a woman, but they don’t have that magic certificate.”
Dr Jay Stewart, co-founder of Gendered Intelligence, said trans women were vulnerable and exposed when sent to men’s prisons.
“Those who do not have Gender Recognition Certificates (and many trans people don’t) are not being respected and treated in their self identified gender in instances such as these.”