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Male, female or ‘X’: Gender neutral passports a step closer?

A gender-neutral campaigner has been given the go-ahead for a challenge that would allow for gender-neutral passports.

Christie Elan-Cane says the UK’s passport application process says it’s wrong for people to have to offer their gender in applications.

Christie Elan-Cane won right to challenge

They are calling for another option, allowing people to put an ‘X’ instead of male or female.

Getting a new passport may be tricky at the best of times with lots of box-ticking but for non-binary people it’s impossible at the moment to be accurate about who they are in their application.

Today, a legal hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Justice Gilbart granted the campaigner, who was present in court, permission to bring a judicial review.

Today’s victory represents an important step forward for non-binary people of all kinds. Although we don’t know what the review will conclude, the matter of discrimination is finally being taken seriously. Equal citizenship is now within our sights.

The hearing concerned a case brought against the Home Office by Christie Elan-Cane who has been persistently fighting for legal recognition for those who don’t fit into the binary sex system since the mid-90s. There is now likely to be full judicial review of current government policy.

Elan-Cane is not arguing for all passports to be made gender neutral, simply for a gender-neutral option to exist for those who wish to use it. This is already the case in a number of countries, including India, Canada and Australia. The option has been recognised internationally since the end of the First World War, when the vast number of refugees applying for new documents meant officials had to process requests from people with unfamiliar names at high speed. Not able to determine sex by name, they decided it didn’t matter.

Maria Miller, chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, recommended that gender-neutral passports be made available in Britain after interviewing several non-binary people as part of the government’s 2015 Transgender Equality Inquiry. An EDM supporting this approach currently has backing from 42 MPs, and the Liberal Democrats have made it party policy. Government policy, however, remains opposed, citing security concerns.

The Royal Courts of Justice considered whether or not failure to provide a gender neutral passport option could amount to discrimination in the eyes for the law

Elan-Cane spoke after the hearing, saying:: “I am satisfied this case passes the test for the grant of permission, and is arguable.”

A full hearing of the challenge will now be held on a date to be fixed.

Last month, Canada became the latest country to offer citizens gender-neutral travel documents.

 

 

 

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