Non-binary American living in UK granted judicial review to have gender recognised: ‘An important step’

A non-binary American has been given permission to bring legal action against the UK government after the current gender recognition system left them in legal limbo.

In April, Ryan Castellucci issued legal proceedings against the Gender Recognition Panel (GRP) and the Rishi Suank’s Tory government for failing to provide them with a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) listing their gender as non-binary. 

Castellucci, a cybersecurity professional from California, moved to the UK in 2019 under a Tier 1 Global Talent visa. 

They had already had their gender identity recognised on all their legal documents in the US, including their Californian birth certificate and driving licence, and so sought to have their gender legally recognised in the UK too. 

Under the Gender Recognition Act, citizens of other nations can apply for a GRC on the basis of having changed their gender under the law of an approved country or territory – the United States is considered one such nation. 

However, Castellucci was denied their GRC because the current system states a person can only obtain such a document under the binary categories of ‘male’ or ‘female’. 

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On Tuesday (30 May) it was announced Castellucci had been granted permission by Mr Justice Mostyn to bring a judicial review in regards to their case and will have a one-day High Court hearing in the coming months. 

Kemi Badenoch, the minister for women and equalities is defending the government’s position. 

Castellucci argues the GRP breached its statutory duty to issue them with a GRC which records their gender as non-binary, and is also seeking a declaration that this is a breach of their human rights.

In a statement, Ryan Castellucci said they have spent two decades working in cybersecurity which requires them to be trustworthy, “not committing crimes such as providing false information on official paperwork is an important part of that”. 

“When I need to provide my gender I have three options: list my actual gender, as printed on my birth certificate, but which the UK government says I am not; list the gender none of my identity documents show, or; list the gender I never claimed to be. Which answer is legal for me to provide?,” they said.  

“Being forced to list an inaccurate gender for myself on official paperwork feels like self-betrayal, which is deeply distressing to me. 

“All I’m asking for is a piece of paper allowing me to establish my legal gender in the UK, and to be honest without fear of committing an offence.”

They continued: “Other countries and territories have already taken the step of acknowledging nonbinary gender for legal purposes as well, with no apparent issues. It is time for the same to happen here.”

The legal action is being supported by law firm Leigh Day. 

Kate Egerton, a solicitor at the firm, said: “This is an important step in Ryan’s case. 

“Mr Justice Mostyn agreed that Ryan’s human rights claims are arguable and should be heard at a final hearing. 

“He was also not prepared to reject Ryan’s argument that the GRP had a statutory duty to issue them with a GRC that certifies their gender as nonbinary. 

“We look forward to making these arguments before a court at the final hearing.”

In the response to the case, an Equality Hub spokesperson said: “The gender recognition process in UK law only allows a change of sex from male to female or vice versa.

“We listened to those who responded to the GRA consultation and have taken steps to modernise the way that individuals can apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate as a result, including reducing the cost and moving the process online.”

“Given the ongoing legal proceedings in this case we won’t be commenting any further on this individual case.”

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