You are viewing elancane

Apr. 18th, 2014

Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure


Something amazing happened on 15 April 2014. Judgment in the Supreme Court of India upheld that trans* people should enjoy full civil and human rights that have traditionally been denied.

More so that the Court recognised the rights of those who do not define as either male or female and has ruled in favour of legal recognition of a ‘third’ category and full constitutional protection.

It is interesting that history is cited more than once in reference to pre colonial rule where sections within Indian society such as the Hijra were once revered until brutally criminalised and denied basic human rights by their western oppressors. It is referenced that basic amenities, such as public bathroom provision, are off-limits to those who do not define as male or female. I raised this same matter with the United Kingdom government during my short period of ‘engagement’ and the idea of “special” provision was largely dismissed (although I did keep trying and will continue to do so).

The Supreme Court judgment cites the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Constitution of India and makes reference to the neutrality of language used in Articles from both documents that apply in this case.

Here is the full text of judgment. And I shall be speaking with my legal advisors very soon.

For reference:



With the exception of Articles that apply to marriage, neutrality is maintained in the wording throughout these two documents.


Readers of this site are probably familiar with Norrie’s case. Norrie has been working for at least as long as I have (and maybe longer) to achieve the ‘right’ to remove inappropriate gendered references from per documentation. Some years ago Norrie was permitted to amend the birth certificate by the NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and then permission was cruelly revoked in a very public case that resulted in Norrie taking legal action against the state authority.

Norrie’s persistence has now paid off with a landmark judgment in the High Court of Australia

And not to forget the decision in March 2014 of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Assembly to recognise the right of all trans* and intersex to amend the birth certificate and replace with ‘X’


Whitehouse Petition now over 100,000 signatures required for a debate

Unsurprisingly, this has had no publicity at all in the UK – I am not familiar with how things work in the States but will track this with interest. The USA does not currently permit ‘X’ passports to be issued to its own citizens (although the USA has an international obligation to recognise the document as valid when presented by travellers from countries that do), and the outcome of a debate on the issue could have significant impact on the UK and the rest of Europe.

The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered

Apr. 9th, 2014

Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure


Borrowing again from the words of dearest Freddie, the hammer has finally fallen on Culture secretary Maria Miller MP who announced resignation from ministerial role today. It remains to be seen whether criminal proceedings will follow and I’m not going to comment further on her finances other than suggest that, in order to be able to “move on”, she could start the process by repaying the £45,000 of public money currently sitting in her bank account. Not doing a link here either because I don’t want to inflict further pain upon my Facebook readers (where most of my posts on this website are copied) with projection of another image of her.

While I have no misapprehensions that her replacement as head of DCMS and the Equalities portfolio will be any better, I am so pleased that Maria Miller has gone.

She was the puppet, put in place by a Tory led coalition government, to oversee the deliberate abandonment of pledges made to trans* community during the period of her predecessor Lynne Featherstone MP. Having been involved in the government’s ‘engagement process’ for the trans* equality action plan while under the direction of Lynne Featherstone, I subsequently tried on numerous occasions to ‘engage’ with Miller and Helen Grant MP and did not receive one single reply (although I did get auto-responses that indicated my emails had been successfully delivered). Furthermore, I was completely frozen out of the ‘engagement’ process as GEO personnel changed under Miller’s stewardship and the issues I cared about and fought for were not being discussed any more.

There was consolation the passport policy ‘review’ process was already under way, an action that Miller and co. could not get away with dropping. And, as readers of this site will know, the review was no more than a sham. As the Australian Federal Government embraced ‘X’ and the New Zealand authorities were working on improving an already enlightened policy on ‘X’, the UK government was interested only in how the issue of ‘X’ passports and the wider issue of legitimate identity for people who do not define as male or female could be shafted.

And the UK government has, under Maria Miller’s dubious stewardship as head of DCMS, gone to extraordinary lengths to do just that – although the government has not succeeded in its efforts and has only dug itself into a hole when the course of events eventually will become public.

But Maria Miller, awful as she was, was acting under instruction. She was put in charge of trans* issues because she did not give a damn but she was not ultimately responsible for the government decision to renege on a commitment to improve the lives of ALL trans* people.

I am glad she is gone but far more questions still remain unanswered – and the damage that was done during Miller’s period of high office needs to be undone.

A brief note on Whitehouse petition – now over 92,000 signatures and on course to reach target.

It was pointed out that petition accepts signatures from outside the US although you will need to register on the Whitehouse website beforehand. And I’ve tried it and it works! However, word of caution, I’m not sure whether views from outside the US will be included in the count when the petition closes and I assume a manual assessment will be made. But it looks as though outside help will not be needed as this petition is well on course to reach target of 100K signatures before close.

The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered

Apr. 8th, 2014

Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure


Petition to Obama administration tops 88K signatures!

I’m not at all familiar with the US system but informed that 100K signatures could lead to a debate in the Whitehouse.

Not sure where this is going – but urge anyone who is reading this from the US to support – only a short time to go before timed out but on course to reach target 100K!

In meantime.............

My petitions are not time constrained and will remain online until objectives are achieved – although cannot get close to matching signature achievement of our US cousins.

Legal protection for all trans* and intersex in the UK
In support of ‘X’ passports in the United Kingdom‘x’-passports-in-the-united-kingdom.html


There is a short time to go before the end of this Parliament session and still time for new signatures to be added to Early Day Motion (EDM) 907. If you have not done so, I urge you to contact your local parliamentary representative and urge they support this motion. I understand that Julian Huppert is prepared to re-table the EDM in the next Parliament session but all signatures will need to be sought again therefore ongoing support for the issue is essential.

Check to see if your MP has signed EDM 907

We need realistically no less than 100 Member signatures in order to push for a debate in the House.

Just remember this – the UK government has reneged on a commitment to improve the lives of ALL trans* people in an underhand and despicable way. A policy ‘review’ on proposals for ‘X’ passports was nothing more than a sham and the government has gone to great and disproportionate lengths in order to undermine its own commitment on this issue in the knowledge that people are condemned to social invisibility and denied legitimate identity through discriminatory laws and policies. Non-gendered and bi-gendered people are denied civil rights and fundamental human rights that others can take for granted within a so-called democratic society.

I remain hopeful it is possible to have the discriminatory decision to reject ‘X’ passports overturned and, yes, that will indeed lead to calls for a wider implementation of a third option in other areas and the removal of the unnecessary requirement to declare ‘M/F’ in other areas – as we are seeing already in Australia.

Finally, in light of what was brought to my attention this week; not worth spending time fighting dinosaurs and not getting into online debates on the matter but, as I was the probable subject used in her tabloid piece, here is my response to Janett Scott..........

The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the (privileged) gendered majority against the non-gendered

Apr. 3rd, 2014

Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure


Referring to Guardian article titled ‘Culture secretary Maria Miller apologises over mortgage expenses’ published today

Here is the comment the Guardian Newspaper did not want you to read:

“The other scandal for which Maria Miller should be forced to resign from her Ministerial position has never attracted public or media attention. Her appointment as Equalities Minister meant she inherited responsibility for the delivery of a series of commitments made by the coalition government towards the trans* community. As the government forged ahead on a highly publicised LGBT 'equalities' initiative, all attention was focussed on same sex marriage while commitments to T were quietly dropped. This was not accidental. Maria Miller was put there for the purpose of steering through on vote winning and relatively 'safe' deliverables while the most marginalized sections of society were (and continue to be) ignored in a calculated and deliberate attempt to bury issues the government does not want to address (in stark contrast to what is happening in Australia where inclusive policies have been embraced by the Federal Government). Maria Miller, and her sidekick Helen Grant (also subject to questions raised about personal expenses), are a thorough disgrace - AND THEY SHOULD GO.”

The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered

Mar. 27th, 2014

Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport
From the DCMS website:
Have your say

We have made good progress against action plan commitments and have also legislated for equal marriage. But it is still important that we know what issues LGB&T people continue to face and which act as barriers to equality, so we can consider where to focus our efforts.

You can get in touch with us via email at:
My response to DCMS:



Legal protection for all trans* and intersex in the UK

‘X’ passports in the United Kingdom without further delay

Maria Miller and Helen Grant should be immediately replaced – and bring in people who give a toss about trans* issues and the ruining of trans* lives through discriminatory laws and policies that negate our existence and deny us a legitimate identity.
The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered


Mar. 21st, 2014

Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure

Australia to allow trans* and intersex to change marker on birth certificate – including ‘X’

Australia joined New Zealand in its provision of ‘X’ passports two and a half years ago, subsequently the federal government instructed all government departments to use ‘X’ when ‘M’ and ‘F’ did not apply, and now it is possible to amend the birth certificate.

As Australia has forged ahead, the UK government refuses to address the issue and continues to deny legitimate identity to trans* and intersex who do not define as male or female.

Shame on the UK government for its failure and mishandling of this issue.

The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered

Mar. 17th, 2014

Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure


A particularly nasty letter has emerged that aims to settle once and for all the issue of non gender-specific documentation and quash the voices of those who call for recognition based upon a principle of legitimate identity as a fundamental human right.

This letter from new Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire (Conservative: Old Bexley and Sidcup) was written in response to a representation in support of ‘X’ passports.

While mostly a standard repetition of the same drafted rhetoric that first manifested in a letter signed by Sarah Rapson, former Chief Executive of the passport agency, entirely dismissive of the need for ‘X’ passports and negating the wishes of those who want appropriate identity documentation without inappropriate gendered references, this government rhetoric is repeated pretty much verbatim by ministers from the Home Office and DCMS in response to any Member of Parliament who tries to raise ‘X’ passports as a legitimate issue and is repeated over and again by HM Passport Office (HMPO) as a standard rebuttal response in its dealings with communications from members of the public. But this letter goes further, providing an insight into how the government perceives ‘X’ passports and those who require them, with an additional paragraph....

We recognise that a very small number of people consider themselves as being of neither gender. We are not aware that this results in any specific detriment, and it is not Government policy to issue documents identifying such people as non-gendered. If any protection for them is required, the Equality Act protects people from discrimination if this arises from a perception of them being either male or female.

Ignorant and arrogant – intended to firmly dispel any remaining doubt that this particular Tory led coalition government does not believe in non-gendered identity as a legitimate issue and that government has no interest in the welfare of human beings who are condemned to social invisibility and a life on the margins due to discriminatory laws and policies that negate our existence.

So now all the gloves are well and truly off – in the aftermath of government embarrassment at having been thoroughly caught out over the former Identity and Passport Service (IPS) conducting a fake ‘review’ of proposals for ‘X’ passports in the UK in response to an action point within the government’s now discredited trans* equality action plan, and that subsequently saw the government going to extraordinary lengths in its attempt to bury the issue entirely. The hammer inevitably fell on the not-quite-so-nasty-but-not-so-bright Mark Harper, hapless former Immigration Minister at the Home Office, who agreed to publish the findings of the IPS ‘review’ in the Parliament Library in response to a WPQ from the Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP in what was almost certainly an unguarded moment. His ministerial resignation was accepted four days after the Deposited Paper was placed in the Library with gaffes for all to see.

Enter James Brokenshire, new Minister of State for Security and Immigration (note that reference to security in the title in order to give extra gravitas to the ministerial role – as the government’s ongoing defence against amending current discriminatory policy is that ‘X’ passports would somehow pose an unacceptable risk to the security of the country). Here is a man who, judging from the content of the letter he has signed off, makes clear the government view is that people whose lives are ruined by lack of recognition and social marginalization are of no consequence to the rest of society. We now have a tough-talking-no-nonsense-straight-down-the-line-mean-government-machine-no-illegals-in-my-closet kind of minister at the helm with a brief to kill the issue of ‘X’ passports stone dead. Am I worried? I might have been if I could take him seriously but this really is a case of dumb replaced by dumber – he really should have checked what he was signing off on as much has already been disproved.

With a background in the legal profession James Brokenshire appears to have an astonishing ignorance of the law, the same ignorance that was evident in the letter signed off by former IPS Chief Sarah Rapson (which, it came to light, was actually written by a senior civil servant at IPS). It was established from the outset during the development of trans* equality action plan that there are no requirements for any changes to Primary legislation in order to provision ‘X’ passports. This was subsequently confirmed by current HM Passport Office Chief Executive Paul Pugh in response to questioning by Simon Hughes during a meeting where I was present. And yet this letter, from the new Immigration Minister, repeats the same assertion to the contrary along with repetition of all the standard quoted misinformation.

It is unfortunate there are many unqualified parliamentarians in high office that can be called upon to make statements and sign off on issues they know nothing about and care even less. There is always reference to the perception this issue affects a very small (read ‘insignificant’) group of people when the rejection of ‘X’ passports has nothing at all to do with numbers – first of all, the government are aware the number of people who openly define as neither male nor female represents less than the tip of an iceberg given that people are forced to remain socially invisible and secondly, legitimate identity is a human rights issue and provision should not be dependent upon numbers (the Australian authorities made provision for one person in January 2003, eight years before ‘X’ passports were drafted into national policy) and, one more thing, as part of its much promoted but thoroughly contemptible ‘Equalities’ initiative this government tweaked with the law governing succession to the throne in order to change established policy going back hundreds of years, a gesture with absolute minimal relevance to most people and where the number of current and future beneficiaries to this legislative change are miniscule. The same government is consistently refusing to make provision for people who do not define as male or female because it does not see us as a part of society and believes we are not worth the bother. And, going back to the previous paragraph, provision for ‘X’ passports requires administrative amendments and not changes to primary legislation.

In this instance, I did some brief research into James Brokenshire and would place him right there in that unqualified category. He is a man who comes across as a cog in the wheel in every respect, a suit, a former grammar school boy from Essex and now a parliamentary glove puppet with a background in company law and corporate finance, who had a stint in the shadow cabinet (on Crime, naturally) before ending up on the winning side and going on to be a Home Office minister respectively covering Crime Prevention and then Security with a remit that included the overseeing of counter terrorism activities before being promoted to his current role.

How the hell did ‘X’ passports shift from being a potentially controversial (if mishandled by government) but basically innocuous and inconsequential action point buried deep and cryptically within the government’s now discredited trans* equality action plan to becoming an issue that landed on the table of the minister with responsibility for crime and counter terrorism?????

I take this opportunity to remind all that, during more than 20 years of work to raise awareness of identity outside the gendered societal structure in order that I, and others in my position, might one day have what others can take for granted, I have received a lot of supportive encouragement along the way from people who do ‘get’ what I am doing and why this work needs to be done by someone. I have people onside who would generally be described as ‘intelligent’ thinkers and included among their ranks are many of the more enlightened politicians, academics within various disciplines, scientific observers etc. Those who support the principle of legitimate identity as a fundamental human right understand the reality of the situation and that the issue needs to be addressed by the government. It is beyond sufferance that a relatively small group of people who have power without intelligence can stand in the way and prevent the issues I am raising being taken forward and can have the impact of rendering those in my position socially invisible non persons within society and over and above all – they really just do not care!!!

With the government firmly believing that people who do not define as male or female should be condemned to a socially invisible existence and denied the rights that others can take for granted, this same government is also ready to self-congratulate and take credit for the advancements of LGB issues during its term in office that even manifested in a kind of evolving communal self-outing process during the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act.

I am reminded how many of those in government now singing they are so glad to be gay actually voted in favour of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, a deeply unpleasant piece of legislation that prohibited local authorities in England and Wales from "promoting" homosexuality and labelled gay family relationships as "pretend". I raise this to note the hypocrisy and the moral cowardice apparent within a government who, pandering to the bigotry that exists within the mainstream of society, are vehemently ignoring the case for ‘X’ passports and ignoring the desperate situation of people who have no stake in society while at the same time they are claiming to be champions of equality.

As an afterthought, is it not totally inconceivable that history might repeat and the transphobic rulers of  today might one day look altogether different when it is ‘safe’ to do so (ie when other people have taken the risks)?  Yes, I suspect there are some deeply closeted and self-loathing trans* within their midst. James Brokenshire might like to think on that!

If anyone who is affected by this issue is residing in the constituency of Old Bexley and Sidcup, I would like you to get in touch with me

My response in the aftermath of sham ‘review’:
Meeting with HM Passport Office:
‘Review’ outcome published as Deposited Paper in Parliament Library:
My response to ‘review’ document:

Petition: ‘In support of ‘X’ passports in the United Kingdom’‘x’-passports-in-the-united-kingdom.html

Petition will remain active until ‘X’ passports are available in the UK to all who need non gender-specific documentation. Has now reached one thousand signatures  - at last!!!!

Petition: ‘Legal protection for all trans* and intersex in the UK’

Petition will remain online until the discriminatory Equality Act 2010 is amended and affords equal protection from discrimination for all trans* and intersex people.

Please keep circulating the petitions and let the government be made aware there are many people who are affected by these issues and many more who disagree with current discriminatory laws and policies that are ruining lives.


I have been working hard to raise the signature count on Early Day Motion (EDM) 907, through a series of meetings with parliamentary representatives and sending out phenomenal volumes of emails. I have received undertakings of signatures from Members who have yet to sign (although not sure why they cannot sign right now) and many supporters have responded enthusiastically to the call to contact their local MPs which I am optimistic will bring in more Member signatures.

We need at least 100 Member signatures to stand any chance of a floor debate. 100 signatures deos not guarantee a debate but would certainly raise the profile of the issue.

Ministers and certain MPs with committee responsibilities cannot sign EDMs due to protocol, and some MPs choose not to sign EDMs which is not helpful when there are very limited resources available to highlight issues that do not enjoy widespread public support.

This leaves over 300 Members who are eligible to sign and not averse to the principle of EDMs. It should be possible, with considerable effort from all sides, to move towards the 100 figure.

EDM 907 text and signatures:

To everyone whose local parliamentary representative is not listed as a signatory, I urge you to contact your MP and request their support for this issue.

As the current Parliament session ends within a few weeks, I am informed Julian Huppert’s EDM will be re-tabled in the next session although, as a new EDM, this means that all existing signatures are rendered void and will need to be collected again. It is therefore imperative to ensure the ongoing support of our parliamentary representatives.

I want to extend my sincere thanks to all Members who have signed EDM 907 so far and trust that your support for this important issue will continue into the next session.

Communications with HM Passport Office and your local MP

I am interested  to know just how many enquiries the governing authorities are receiving from members of the public on the need for ‘X’ passports and how many times the response is repeated that this issue affects a small or ‘insignificant’ number of people.

I am asking everyone who has a written response from their local parliamentary representative on this issue and any written communications from HM Passport Office to send a copy to me at:

There is a purpose to this exercise and I thank you in advance for your co-operation.


It really did not have to be like this. With no requirement for legislative change, the government could have waved through ‘X’ passports with utmost discretion while the bigots’ attention was focused on ‘gay marriage’. It would probably have taken several months before anyone even noticed and by that time no one would have cared. This is, after all, an administrative change that would have no negative impact on the rest of society while significantly enhancing the lives of everybody who desperately needs proof of identification documentation without inappropriate gendered references in that we would, at long last, finally have documented evidence lending credibility to our right to legitimate identity.

New Zealand adopted this inclusive policy over 20 years ago and the country did not fall apart. The Australian passport authorities do not report any problems with ‘X’ passports in the two and a half years the policy has been in place (a fact that HM Passport Office seeks to undermine). The UK government could – and should – have recognised this as an important human rights issue and done the decent thing. It would have been so easy, comparatively speaking, but the Tory led UK coalition government just had to do things the hard way.......

‘X’ passports WILL happen for the UK eventually – the government machine and the cogs in its wheels can deride and negate the lives of those who they are denying legitimate identity but this issue will not go away.


More positive is that I have had the opportunity recently to engage with more MPs and there is certainly a growing awareness of the issue and indeed support from within the ranks of parliament, if not from government, as evident from the list of signatories to EDM 907

I am also pleased to report the internationally renowned law firm Clifford Chance are providing me with pro bono support and legal advice which should prove invaluable in the future.


In my work I have necessarily tended to focus upon the impacts of social invisibility from the perspective of the victim. What is often overlooked is the negative impact on those closest to that person whose own lives are invariably adversely affected by this issue

The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered

Copyright ©2014 Christie Elan-Cane
All rights reserved

Feb. 8th, 2014

Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure

Christie Elan-Cane versus RBS Banking Group – Latest Update

I have today received a letter from the Executive Office of RBS Banking Group plc. This letter follows a long running battle where I’ve sought to persuade the organisation to remove an inappropriate and discriminatory requirement that customers should enter a gendered role, as part of the corporation’s registration procedure, in order to be able to receive online banking services. This totally unnecessary requirement impacts on non-gendered customers of all those banks that combine to form part of the RBS conglomerate, including NatWest with whom I’ve had an account for several years.

In the letter received today, RBS has undertaken to implement the necessary change and remove the requirement for a gendered role to be entered in order to access its online banking services facility. This change will happen at the point the corporation is implementing the next upgrade to its admittedly antiquated IT system, as it states in the letter “I can confirm our current plans are to make the necessary change...”. In terms of a timescale, the RBS spokesperson says “....we would hope to have this in place within the next 12 months.” I shall monitor the situation with interest – because I cannot access NatWest online banking services until this change is made – and will be right back on their case if no sign of change within this reasonable period.

The bank did not respond to my direct request that any gendered reference I may have given when I opened an account with NatWest in the 1980s is removed however I do expect that to happen and, again, straight back on their case if I suspect this necessary request has been ignored.

The letter concludes on a positive note “Society is changing and we accept we need to bear those changes in mind to understand how they impact on both the services we provide to our customers and the staff we employ.”

It has taken a very long time and a lot of effort – but RESULT – AT LAST!!!!!


EDM 907 tabled by Julian Huppert MP (LibDem: Cambridge) on 6 January 2014 now has 30 Member signatories, listed here If your MP is not on this list, please again I urge you to approach them – make an appointment to visit your MP at their local constituency surgery if necessary – and get them to put their name to this. They are our elected representatives and it is their job to represent the needs of ALL their constituents

HM Passport Office sham ‘review’

Can be found here Anyone who has comments to direct to HMPO, such as everyone that contacted the agency up to and during the policy ‘review’ period (January 2012-February 2013) and expressed a need for ‘X’ whose efforts were completely ignored by HMPO in this report, should address their response to the agency via its website, or send to me at for forwarding to the HMPO Executive office.

My response to this excuse of a document can be found here

And, don’t forget, two petitions will remain online until the objectives are achieved – although petition for ‘X’ passports should now remain online in perpetuity having been immortalized by HM Passport Office in its ‘review’ outcome document!

In support of ‘X’ passports in the United Kingdom

Legal protection for all trans* and intersex in the UK

Subscribe to receive Twitter updates

The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered

Feb. 6th, 2014

Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure

HM Passport Office – sham policy ‘review’ document now online

The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered

Feb. 6th, 2014

Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure

HM Passport Office - sham ‘review’ report is published in HoC Library

At long last and after much prompting, HM Passport Office (HMPO) has published the findings from its thoroughly discredited ‘review’ of proposals for ‘X’ passports in the UK. The document is titled ‘GENDER MARKING IN PASSPORTS - INTERNAL REVIEW OF EXISTING ARRANGEMENTS AND POSSIBLE FUTURE OPTIONS’.

Of course, and as most people with a direct interest in the issue will know, there was no proper review and no serious consideration was ever given towards proposals in favour of ‘X’. This outcome report was inevitably going to be nothing more than a hastily cobbled together exercise in excuse making.

Having worked for many years to legitimize my identity, and specifically focusing on ‘X’ passports as a key element towards achieving this aim, my hopes were raised when I heard there was to be a review of existing discriminatory policy in the UK. To be honest, it always felt too good to be real. But the Australian government had recognised ‘X’ passports, New Zealand had been quietly issuing ‘X’ passports for some time. I had many concerns about the secrecy that surrounded the UK decision making process but my concerns were dismissed and I had no choice other than wait for an outcome that came reluctantly and several weeks after the ‘review’ period had ended.  And the outcome was devastating to everyone who had waited – and hoped – for positive change as a sign that it was recognised by the governing authorities that we too are human beings with an equal right to be treated with dignity and respect.

I am thoroughly and totally bored with this – and desperate to move on – because there was no policy review despite commitments made by government to the trans* community under the trans* equality action plan and government announcements in the press at that time – and now the issue needs to be progressed through direct action working within a political process although questions certainly do need to be answered as to why HM government, having made a commitment to improve the lives of all trans* people, has subsequently gone to extraordinary lengths in its attempts to bury the issue.

I regard this outcome document as irrelevant and I am tempted to ignore it in order to move on but a response is required nonetheless: -

After setting out current discriminatory policy in the first section, the next section is titled ‘Calls for Change and Petition’.

After some digression where the report refers back to discussions surrounding the dismantling of the previous governing administration’s discredited ID card scheme – not actually part of this policy ‘review’ but effectively padding out the lack of content – the report states the following:

We have sought to speak to key stakeholder groups and to relevant parts of Government (section 7). The fact that we are carrying out the work is welcome but there is little in the way of support to make changes that may as a matter of routine result in highlighting the status of the person.”

Highlighting that people who do not define as male or female are, in fact, recognised as neither male nor female is not exactly defeating the object and is precisely the point! HMPO claims there is little to support and ignores the desperate support that is there from people who would benefit from accurate non gender-specific documentation and ignores the opinions of many sympathisers from the UK and around the world.

There are no outstanding applications in which the applicant has sought either change to the process of considering applications from transgendered people or of changing the passport itself with the gender marking.”

If I understand this correctly, there are currently no outstanding applications for ‘X’ passports. Of course there are not! Why should anyone state on an application they are applying for an ‘X’ passport when ‘X’ passports are not issued in this country? And it was stressed during a meeting with HMPO in September 2013, an application for a UK passport would be rejected if neither (or both) boxes are ticked. Unless the objective is simply to make a point, there is NO POINT in not declaring a gendered role when submitting an application for a UK passport no matter how distressing this is for the non-gendered or bi-gendered applicant.

We remain open to suggestions for change but such a change would be on the basis that it was either required by law or that it provided additional benefits to the applicant. Choice is an important factor but we have received feedback that would suggest that enabling that choice may be more detrimental than beneficial.”

And here we are again, back to the fact that people who do not define as male or female are not protected under the discriminatory Equality Act 2010. There is no legal requirement to respond to the needs of this invisible section within society. HMPO would undoubtedly have sought reassurance from the Home Office on this matter and the consensus would have been there is no legal obligation and therefore it is ‘safe’ for the organisation to do nothing.

Again HMPO public servants are patronising as they tell us that they know better than we as to what is done against us is for our own good. It is apparently of no benefit, indeed detrimental to the wellbeing of those who desperately need ‘X’ passports that we should actually get to have them.

The report then goes on to describe my campaign in rather misleading terms. For the record, I have never and at no time contacted HMPO, its predecessor or anyone else for that matter about “recognition of the ability to choose both gender and not to be required to disclose gender”.

The “other ministries” to which the report refers is, I assume, the Home Office which, along with “No 10” were approached some months after ‘review’ period had ended rather than during – furthering towards an obvious conclusion this document was concocted some time after the sham ‘review’ period had ended rather than a genuine report of findings.

In the midst of that, the document notes “There are no calls for change from gender representative groups or civil liberties groups”. Well there should have been calls for change from such groups and shame on them for their ignorance and their apathy!!!!

Then HMPO helpfully refers to my petition with inclusion of a direct link‘x’-passports-in-the-united-kingdom.html

This is followed by a flow chart on the passport application process that could have been constructed by a five year old – attempting to justify HM government’s stance on maintaining gender as a requirement while ignoring relevant data factors such as name, nationality and date of birth.

After that comes the section covering legislation – and highlighting concerns that provision would have to be made in other areas if HMPO were to recognise the legitimacy of identity other than gendered identities male and female.

Therefore, what may appear to be a simple and inclusive change to passports could have wider reaching consequences

Yes, there it is, the government would be forced to consider the wider needs of a socially invisible and ignored group and would have to recognise that this section of society are no less ‘deserving’ than the rest of the population and therefore we are entitled to legal protection and civil ‘rights’.

There is a reference alluding that those affected by this issue are not covered under the discriminatory Equality Act 2010 and HMPO are obviously not aware of my other petition because they fail to provide a link

Next section covers ‘Options’ although, again it is clear that no options other than Option 1 (Do nothing) were considered at all throughout, before and after the sham ‘review’ process.

While Option 4 (remove the ‘sex’ category altogether) is appealing for some and I understand the reasons for this, my preference is there should be a clear and definable non gender-specific option because removal of the sex category does not get to the core issue, which is lack of social visibility for those who do not and cannot define their identity as male or female. And, as the report indicates, the international standard defined by the ICAO requires a character indicator for a mandatory ‘sex’ category. ‘X’ is the ICAO’s permitted non gender-specific character.

For Option 5 (to add ‘X’) the public servants at HMPO have really overstretched and thrown everything possible into the ring to use against proposals for ‘X’. From treating people who require ‘X’ as imbeciles who would get an ‘X’ passport and then undoubtedly jump straight on a plane heading towards a known hostile territory and require rescuing by representatives of HM government, to suggesting that identifying a person who does not define as male or female in the appropriate way that person wants to be perceived is somehow going against that person’s human rights! Taking in that problems might occur if some gendered people might want to acquire an ‘X’ passport for themselves (well, cry me a river) and, of course, that a change of policy would cost money. And HM government does not believe people who do not define as male or female are worth state expenditure.

The following section is devoted entirely to cost and is completely devoid of evidence or credibility – summarising that approximately £1million would need to be spent on paper application forms and same again for online systems and that comes to - £2million – yes, someone at HMPO can count!!!

If anyone is still reading this, the final section seven covers input to the ‘review’ process from stakeholders. The publication of this section is the reason why it took HMPO several months, or so I was informed, to publish this document because stakeholder permission needed to be obtained before their comments could be published. So who were the stakeholders? Aside from communications where HMPO sought feedback from other nations and from the ICAO (and I would not describe other countries and the ICAO as ‘stakeholders’ ), there were just three representations. Out of three stakeholders who submitted evidence, two were in favour of ‘X’ passports being issued to people who need appropriate non gender-specific documentation and one was against.

The one stakeholder opting against changing current discriminatory policy was a trans* government employee at the time of ‘review’ period, whose name HMPO has confused with that of Sarah Rapson (Chief Executive of former IPS during sham ‘review’ period). This person (who I am very tempted to name and shame but will not due to concerns about possible legal ramifications) admitted “The inclusion of a third gender marker has merit for those transgender people who are bi-gendered or non-gendered.....” but ultimately did not support non-gendered and bi-gendered people’s legitimate need for appropriate documentation or the ‘rights’ of citizenship that she, herself, enjoys.

The next stakeholder was me, where none of the contents of evidence presented in the form of letters and documentation to the organisation were referenced at all, but HMPO have instead printed out my petition in its entirety as ‘evidence’  - and my permission to reproduce it was not sought although I am now giving HMPO my retrospective permission and will not pursue this as a breach of confidence. No reference to the link this time – so, here it is again and a reminder to anyone who has not signed or distributed to each and every person they know‘x’-passports-in-the-united-kingdom.html

What was noted with concern is that none of the people, including many readers of this site, who responded to calls for action throughout this period and made the effort to write to the former IPS with their views were even given a mention in this document.

The final stakeholder is GIRES, again, submitting evidence that supported proposals for ‘X’ passports.  I am aware that HMPO public servants had attempted to strike all positive reference of ‘X’ passports and the situation of those who need them from GIRES’ published evidence, however my good friend, a trustee of the organisation, did not let HMPO get away with it hence the clumsily added on Annex at the end of the document. The Annex contains the section of GIRES’ statement that HMPO had tried to withhold from public scrutiny.

HMPO lists some of those countries that permit ‘X’ as a legitimate option for their own citizens (list contains some countries whose policies I am not familiar with – will have to look into Argentina and Malta – the former has a unique and enlightened policy on trans* but not sure of the position in regards to ‘X’ passports). HMPO refers to the small number of ‘X’ passports issued in Australia where the inclusive policy has been in place less than three years (although I doubt the low figure of 11 ‘X’ passports issued to date is correct) and HMPO ignores the fact that New Zealand has approximately 400 ‘X’ passports in current use (NZ Dept. of Internal Affairs, 2007). Again, HMPO manages to be offensive to people who desperately require documentation that affirms rather than misrepresents the identity while pretending to be looking after our own best interests.

In this brief synopsis, I might have missed something but nothing of substance or relevance to miss. An excuse of a report, hastily contrived to try to disguise a sham ‘review’. HMPO all over the place. Full of holes. Full of shit. Not prepared to spend any more time on it right now. If anyone would like a copy, write to me at Certain rules apply about disclosure from a Crown Copyrighted document, therefore be careful when blogging – and ensure that quotes are properly referenced and attributed.

A reminder of HM Passport Office ‘Equality and Diversity’ statement:

“We're committed to promoting equality, fairness and respect. Our customers can expect to be treated in a manner that promotes understanding, dignity and respect.

We will:

·           recognise the diverse needs of our customers in the development, access and provision of our services

·           monitor and evaluate services to ensure that they do not unfairly discriminate against particular groups

·           treat all our customers, partners and staff with dignity and respect”


Early Day Motion (EDM) 907 now has 29 MP signatures. Many thanks to Julian Huppert and to all Members who have lent their support and to everyone who is writing, blogging and generally cajoling their MP to sign the motion

More news on the way  - keep watching this space!

Subscribe to receive Twitter updates

The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered

Latest Month

April 2014


RSS Atom
Powered by
Designed by Tiffany Chow