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Gender-neutral passport rules are 'unlawful', Court of Appeal hears

(99 Posts)
LittleCabbage Tue 10-Mar-20 10:04:07

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-50638629

The government's rules on gender-neutral passports are "unlawful" and breach human rights, a court has heard.

Judges at the Court of Appeal are hearing the case of campaigner Christie Elan-Cane, who wants passports to have an "X" category for those who do not identify as fully male nor female.

The campaigner believes the UK's passport process is "inherently discriminatory".

Lawyers representing the home secretary are contesting the legal challenge.

The case centres on whether the current policy run by the UK passport office - which is part of the Home Office - is lawful.

Currently, all UK passport holders have to specify whether they are male or female.

Christie Elan-Cane believes the policy breaches the right to respect for private life, and the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of gender or sex, under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The campaign for recognition of non-gendered identity in UK law and society started more than 25 years ago.

Last year, a High Court challenge calling for gender-neutral passports was lost but the case has now been taken to the Court of Appeal.

On Tuesday, Christie Elan-Cane's lawyer, Kate Gallafent, told the three judges: "There is little which is more fundamental and deeply personal than an individual's gender identity."

She said those affected by the government's current passport rules "face a choice between the degrading experience of applying for, bearing and using a passport that does not accurately reflect their gender identity, or forgoing the use of a passport at all."

People who do not consider themselves as exclusively male or female include members of the trans community and intersex people.

The UN says up to 1.7% of the world's population are born with intersex traits - about the same number of people with red hair.

Male, female and non-binary

The "X" stands for unspecified for people who do not identify as male or female.

Earlier this year, Canada introduced gender-neutral passports with an X category.

Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Malta, New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Nepal already have a third category.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation - the UN agency in charge of air travel - also recognises the "X" option.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's legal action, Christie Elan-Cane said: "Legitimate identity is a fundamental human right but non-gendered people are treated as though we have no rights.

"It is unacceptable that someone who defines as neither male nor female is forced to declare an inappropriate gender in order to obtain a passport."

It comes as the government prepares to publish its response to a consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004, the piece of law that sets out the legal process by which a person can change their gender.

The government said it had more than 100,000 responses to the consultation, which it called "exceptionally high".

In October, the minister for women and equalities, Liz Truss, said it needed time for consideration and she wanted to study it closely.

During last year's High Court proceedings, Christie Elan-Cane's lawyers challenged the lawfulness of the policy administered by Her Majesty's Passport Office.

James Eadie, acting for the home secretary, said the policy maintains an "administratively coherent system for the recognition of gender" and ensures security at national borders.

Ruling on the case in June, a judge said that although he was not at that time satisfied the policy was unlawful, part of the reasoning for the decision was that a comprehensive review had not been completed.

OP’s posts: |
LittleCabbage Tue 10-Mar-20 10:05:02

Are taxpayers paying for this waste of time? The usual conflation of transgenderism and intersex I see....

OP’s posts: |
CuriousaboutSamphire Tue 10-Mar-20 10:08:33

Is that what I just heard on the radio news? I caught a sentence and wound it back a bit....

Ah yes. It is... awaiting results!

Surely, given the reliance on "I want my gender recognised" and the requirement to identify your sex on a passport, there is no problem, as nobody is forced to declare ANY GENDER at all!

LittleCabbage Tue 10-Mar-20 10:35:02

Yes, passports should identify biological sex. People’s innate, ethereal, gender spirit or whatever, can be declared (by those who claim to have one) to all their nearest and dearest, or to their social media followers. Immigration officials do not need this information.

OP’s posts: |
BINtersectionalFeminism Tue 10-Mar-20 10:39:54

If you can just make up what goes on your passport, what’s the point of it? If you can choose your sex to one that isn’t accurate, why can’t you change your date of birth or place of birth or name or picture?

R0wantrees Tue 10-Mar-20 10:40:11

Passports are important travel & therefore security documents.

They are required to identify an individual so they might travel between countries.

As such it neccessarily includes a photograph, name, DOB, sex & nationality all confirmed by the government who issues the travel document.

Governments have been allowing the falsifying of the 'sex' marker, confusing it with 'gender identity'

Its been very irresponsible.

BINtersectionalFeminism Tue 10-Mar-20 10:40:21

*change not choose

BreatheAndFocus Tue 10-Mar-20 10:53:42

“There is little which is more fundamental and deeply personal than an individual's gender identity.”

I disagree but if that’s how this person feels, that’s fine. But it has nothing to do with passports because they only record your sex not your ‘gender identity’.

Thisismytimetoshine Tue 10-Mar-20 10:57:34

The right to a private life thing is mind blowing to me. A mere glance from a passing stranger can identify what sex you are. Who do they think they’re kidding?

CuriousaboutSamphire Tue 10-Mar-20 10:59:10

I am determined to be positive. The logic is inescapable. Making thechange from sex to preferred gender is ridiculous and will cause all sorts of legal issues.

R0wantrees Tue 10-Mar-20 11:00:23

But it has nothing to do with passports because they only record your sex not your ‘gender identity’.

They should record 'sex' & claim to record sex however passport sex markers can &are changed with little more than a GP letter stating a person has issues with their 'gender identity'.

This has contributed to the issue now being faced in the Court of Appeal

Many 'people identified as transgender place great store in having a passport which affirms they have become the opposite sex.

A female child called Leo illustrates this on CBBC:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x_u2cs8DpI

drspouse Tue 10-Mar-20 11:00:40

A mere glance from a passing stranger can identify what sex you are. Who do they think they’re kidding?
This.

NonnyMouse1337 Tue 10-Mar-20 11:08:26

She said those affected by the government's current passport rules "face a choice between the degrading experience of applying for, bearing and using a passport that does not accurately reflect their gender identity, or forgoing the use of a passport at all."

Fuck off with the melodramatic and hyperbolic language. Degrading, my arse. No one gives a damn about your sparkly gender soul identity. Everyone has a biological sex.

Just because the government was stupid enough to allow some people to change their passport based on a GP letter is no reason for introducing an X category. Passports are not issued for people's egos. Either the sex marker is important or it isn't. If it isn't, then remove it entirely. We can all still use our eyes to determine who is male or female anyway.

BreatheAndFocus Tue 10-Mar-20 11:14:06

@R0wantrees I remember Leo. I heard them on the radio a while back but hadn’t followed it up so I hadn’t seen that before. Interesting.

I get what you’re saying and I agree that this has contributed to the whole issue. I’m not sure how/if that can be undone in any way. But I wish sex wasn’t conflated with gender.

andyoldlabour Tue 10-Mar-20 11:16:02

Passports should reflect biological reality as should all government and legal documents.

R0wantrees Tue 10-Mar-20 11:17:24

Like most meaningful documents & records it should probably record both sex & gender identity (if applicable)

Airport security scans are sex-specific.

TheProdigalKittensReturn Tue 10-Mar-20 11:18:17

My passport doesn't reflect the full depth and range of my inner emotions and my complex views on the world either, because it's a passport and that's not what they're for.

Barracker Tue 10-Mar-20 11:18:44

I really hope the court provides the clarity that:
1. passports are supposed to record sex, not gender
2. All humans have a sex, which is a matter of biology, not identity
3. Where the rights of others are implicated, such as necessary security pat downs by members of the same sex, or shared same sex facilities, it is imperative that sex is not obscured or misrepresented.

If we wish to participate in a society of universally sexed people in a way that impacts on other people's sex based rights, we each have an obligation to disclose our own sex.

BreatheAndFocus Tue 10-Mar-20 11:25:48

Their Twitter says they lost their case and the U.K. gov won. They’re probably going to appeal to the Supreme Court.

I’m glad the court saw sense.

R0wantrees Tue 10-Mar-20 11:26:03

3. Where the rights of others are implicated, such as necessary security pat downs by members of the same sex, or shared same sex facilities, it is imperative that sex is not obscured or misrepresented.

The often cavalier disregard for the impact on other people when males choose to travel on passports which incorrectly have female sex markers has consequences for others.

It concerns me that young females (such as Leo) might travel on a 'male' passport & in the event of issues overseas could face additional risks.

It seems many trans rights activists fail to consider the actual purpose of a passport & the implications when it is used not as a travel & security identification document but in terms of their inner self-identity validation.

nauticant Tue 10-Mar-20 11:27:16

A mere glance from a passing stranger can identify what sex you are

This is not a particularly good guide in the specific case of Christie Elan-Cane. It's for this reason I'm wary about arguing on the basis of appearance.

BreatheAndFocus Tue 10-Mar-20 11:27:18

The judgement was a few minutes ago.

blubellsarebells Tue 10-Mar-20 11:27:49

The independent are reporting that shes lost her case of appeal.
Very short article so no details on the ruling other than that.
Sorry i cant share

Thisismytimetoshine Tue 10-Mar-20 11:29:41

I just googled a photo of Christie Elan-Cane and knew instantly they were born female 🤷🏻‍♀️

nauticant Tue 10-Mar-20 11:33:43

I've long held the view that one solution could be to permit people to include "gender identity" as an optional characteristic on things like passports. But sex has to remain on the passport as a separate and accurate characteristic. It will serve as a constant reminder that "sex" and "gender identity" are different things.

99+% of the population will not bother and anyone needing to use the passport for identification purposes will simply use "sex" and regard "gender identity" as a curiosity that doesn't mean anything except to the declarant.

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