Liberal Democrats push for the government to finally introduce ‘X’ gender markers on passports for non-binary people

Liberal Democrats push for gender neutral passports for non-binary people

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to introduce an “X” gender option on passports.

Ahead of International Non-Binary People’s Day on July 14, Lib Dem equalities spokesperson Christine Jardine will put forward a private members bill in the House of Commons asking the government to introduce an “X” gender option on passports.

Jardine’s non-gender-specific passports bill, which is backed by LGBT+ charity Stonewall, would “require the secretary of state to make non-gender-specific passports available to non-gendered, non-binary and other people who do not identify as, or exclusively as, male or female”.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people in the UK who do not identify as exclusively male or female, but the Conservative government still refuses to give them the dignity of recognising their identities,” Jardine said.

“Introducing an ‘X’ gender option on passports is a relatively small change that would make a big difference to so many people’s lives. I find it utterly incomprehensible that this Conservative government still refuses to follow the example of so many other countries and make this change.

“Liberal Democrats will always stand up for the rights and dignity of trans, intersex and non-binary people. We must combat the hostility and discrimination that prevents too many people from living freely and fulfilling their potential.”

The Lib Dem bill comes after years of campaigning by Christie Elan-Cane, a non-gendered activist who has campaigned for a third gender option on British passports for more than 25 years.

Elan-Cane lost the latest round of per legal battle in March this year, with the Court of Appeals ruling that the government’s passport policy, which requires that either a “M” or “F” gender marker appear on every UK passport, is not unlawful.

A gender-neutral passport with an “X” gender marker is available in dozens of other countries including Argentina, Bangladesh, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, India, Malta, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Uruguay, most of Australia and in multiple US states.

Nancy Kelley, the new chief executive of Stonewall, said: “It’s vital that non-binary people are able to have their gender recognised on official documents, including passports.

“Travelling abroad can present many challenges for non-binary people, and trans communities more widely, who can face intrusive questions and difficulties at passport control.

“That’s why we urge the government to include an X category on passports, so non-binary people can have documents that reflect who they are.”

In 2016, the UK’s women and equalities select committee said: “The UK must follow Australia’s lead in introducing an option to record gender as ‘X’ on a passport.”