Non-gendered activist who isn’t male or female takes battle for ‘Gender X’ passport to High Court

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The High Court will hear calls for a judicial review of whether the UK should provide gender X passports.

A number of countries have created systems which allow their passports to recognise people who are not male or female as a separate ‘Gender X’ category, with New Zealand and Australia among those to make provision for Gender X alongside M and F.

However, despite political pressure on the issue from LGBT campaigners, the UK government has resisted any move to adopt the standard itself.

The current system forces people to declare that they are either male or female, which campaigners say “fails to acknowledge their identities or their existence”.

This week non-gendered campaigner Christie Elan-Cane, who does not identify as male or female, will take the issue to the High Court.

Non-gendered activist who isn’t male or female takes battle for ‘Gender X’ passport to High Court

The court will hear Christie Elan-Cane’s call for a judicial review of the current passport policy, with the campaigner arguing that the system is “inherently discriminatory” as  it fails to provide for “UK nationals whose personal identities are neither male nor female.

Christie Elan-Cane said: “Legitimate identity is a fundamental human right but non-gendered people are often treated as though we have no rights.

“The UK’s passport application process requires applicants to declare whether they are male or female. It is inappropriate and wrong that someone who defines as neither should be forced to make that declaration.’”

A statement added: “Christie has engaged with politicians and various government departments over a number of years to raise awareness of the issue.

“When the political process had been exhausted and had failed, Christie approached Clifford Chance and subsequently instigated legal proceedings against the UK Government.

“Christie is not seeking special treatment however does seek to be treated fairly.

“A change of Government policy is urgently needed to address the social invisibility of people in a similar position to Christie who are effectively excluded from full participation within a streamlined gendered society.

“Christie is represented, on a pro-bono basis, by Kate Gallafent QC and Tom Mountford of Blackstone Chambers and a team of solicitors at Clifford Chance LLP.”

Global passport standards do make provisions for ‘X’ as a gender field on passports alongside ‘M’ and ‘F’.

There has been substantial political backing for a change.

British passport

The Green Party and Liberal Democats both expressly gave backing for Gender X passports in their 2017 election manifestos.

The Lib Dems said: “We will introduce an ‘X’ option on passports, identity documents, and official forms for those who do not wish to identify as either male or female, and campaign for their introduction in the provision of other services, for example utilities.”

The Green Party said: “We would campaign for an X gender marker to be added to passports for non-binary and intersex people who wish to use it.”

Labour did not make a firm manifesto commitment, but in a Q&A with PinkNews, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “People must be able to identify as they see themselves, without having binaries imposed upon them.

“People’s own self-identification must be respected by others. That’s why I’m pleased we committed in our manifesto that Labour in government will update legal protections for the trans community by rewriting the Equality Act and other laws to specifically protect gender identity.

“This will of course inform the mechanisms of government forms and documents to make them as gender neutral as possible.”

However, Prime Minister Theresa May would not be drawn on the issue in her PinkNews Q&A.

She said: “As part of our Transgender Action Plan we are conducting a review of gender requirements on government forms and paperwork, because I know this is a concern for trans people and those with different gender identities.

“Legally recognising a new third category is a broader issue than just changing passports, and that needs to be properly considered across government before we propose any changes.”