In the UK, passports currently have the option of “M” and “F” for holders to specify their gender.
However, campaigner Christie Elan-Cane, has won the rights to challenge the government over gender-neutral passports.
Christie wants there to be an “X” on passports, which means unspecified gender, for those who don’t identify as male or female. Christie has pushed for this for more than 25 years, and has finally been given the go-ahead for legal review.
“I’m elated,” said Christie. “It’s just one stage, but it’s going the right way.”
Canada has recently offered gender-neutral passports. Other countries, including Australia, Denmark, Germany, Malta, New Zealand, Pakistan, India, Ireland and Nepal also include the third option.
Others are also supporting this, including 28-year-old transgender blogger Mia Violet, who says it would be a sign of “respect to trans people”. Mia spoke to BBC Newsbeat about the campaign, believing it to be a “sign of progress”.
“Trans rights do feel as though they’ve stagnated in the UK and I do hope this pushes forward more changes. We need to ensure everybody is recognised. For trans people to be seen, I think that’s going to be incredibly important to them because so often they are overlooked.”
Mia came out as transgender two years ago, and says gender-neutral passports in the UK would be an important step as it would acknowledge and respect trans citizens.
“When I changed my passport gender to female, I had to get a letter from my doctor that basically said ‘OK Mia is trans. This transition is permanent. She is now considered female, please change it’. It wasn’t enough for just my permission to do it.”
“It’s almost like the government is looking the other way and not really thinking about trans issues but at the same time we have thousands of thousands of trans people in this country who are having to deal with systems that are just not set up to recognise them.”
Christie believes it is wrong to force people to choose either M or F on their passports if they do not identify as either.
Narrid Singh, who represented Christie on a pro bono basis, commented: “We are delighted that the court has granted permission for a full hearing of this significant public interest case on the fundamentally important issue of the right to respect for individuals’ identity.”
“Gender identity is a fundamental part of an individual’s intimate, personal identity and X passports are a crucial step in the protection of the human rights of this group of individuals, who otherwise face an unacceptable choice between forgoing a passport and making a false declaration and using a passport which misrepresents their identity.”
There has not yet been an official date set for the full high court hearing, but it is scheduled to last two days.
What could this mean for future generations of the UK, if people can simply switch genders even on passports or even simply become an ‘X’ on their legal documents? Will it matter?
<Story by Emily Clark>
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