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Trans woman wins pension rights at European Court of Justice

In a judgment which is sure to cause outrage among Brexiters, a woman, identified as MB, has succeeded in her bid to draw her state pension at the age of 60 rather than having to wait until 65, the age at which men in Britain become of pensionable age.

Born in 1948, MB married a woman in 1974 and had two children. Although she began living as a woman in 1991 and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1995, she and her wife at the time did not seek a marriage annulment for religious reasons. This meant that, under British law, she could not receive a gender reassignment certificate. Consequently, the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions continued to classify her as male.

The European Court of Justice noted that the reasons for refusing a gender reassignment certificate were, at the time, linked to the ban on same-sex marriage as, had the certificate been granted while MB was still married, a same-sex marriage would have occurred by default. However, with equal marriage now in the UK’s statute books, the Court ruled that this rule was no longer relevant and that, in any event, it had never been related to UK state pension provisions.

The Court stated, “the UK legislation constitutes direct discrimination based on sex and is, for that reason, prohibited by the [relevant European] directive”.

The DWP were unavailable for comment.


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Rob Harkavy

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