Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure
The latest from New Zealand – following the policy revision that took place in Australia last September, New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) have proposed a more flexible policy on the issuing of the non gender-specific ‘X’ passport.
Under the new proposals which the DIA expects to implement in September 2012, it will be possible for ANYONE (NZ citizens, that is) to obtain an NZ passport that displays ‘X’ rather than ‘M’/’F’ gendered references.
I understand the application process for ‘X’ passport under revised proposals to be as follows:
Applicant must provide a witnessed Statutory Declaration with passport application form that outlines their circumstances and states the identity indicator (‘M’, ‘F’ or ‘X’) the applicant wishes to have recorded on their passport document;
No supporting evidence is required (ie. self-identification without pathologisation or complication).
Once again, the New Zealand authorities have demonstrated a clear and forward thinking approach that offers a pragmatic way of getting around some of the problems associated with using a passport that identifies the holder as trans* or intersex. That anyone can hold an ‘X’ passport reduces the visibility of those outside the gendered societal structure – which is something I regret because there can be no equality without positive visibility. However, as a means to an end of enforced gendered categorisation, I would accept if the United Kingdom adopted the NZ approach that non gender-specific ‘X’ should be accessible to all passport holders on request.
A reminder, in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) accepted standards for machine readable travel documents, ‘X’ (sex: “unspecified”) is one of three permitted classifications under ‘sex’. The others are gendered options ‘M’ and ‘F’.
As an aside, I believe non gender-specific passports originated during the period the UN were processing emergency passports for people who had fled the Nazi regime during the Second World War. Due to the high volume of passports that needed to be issued, there was no time to determine the sex of each person therefore a non gender-specific dash ‘-‘ was used as an emergency measure and subsequently the dash remained a permitted classification, although there was no obligation on individual countries to issue non gender-specific passports. Several years later, with the introduction of machine readability, the dash was replaced with ‘X’ in the visual inspection zone and appears as filler character ‘<’ in the machine readable zone.
A growing number of countries now recognise ‘X’ as a legitimate option for trans* citizens although criteria for successful application varies considerably between those countries. In accordance with ICAO compliance, all countries are obliged to recognise the ‘X’ passport as a valid travel document when presented at border control.
I am sick and tired of waiting
The NZ approach thoroughly puts the UK Identity and Passport Service (IPS) to shame for its dithering and its secrecy, for its focus on determining how to get around addressing the fundamental human rights issue that every person has the RIGHT to be recognised – correctly, legally and socially – within their core identity. The IPS approach has always been to bury its head in the sand and do nothing in the hope the issue (and those who advocate for equality outside the gendered societal structure) will just go away. Under last year’s government action plan was a commitment that IPS “review” existing policy that is due to conclude next February. I have made numerous attempts to get more information – any information – but none is forthcoming which I find extremely disconcerting.
I am sick and tired of waiting
I demand an end to the inappropriate gendered classification of non-gendered people (through lack of provision as typified by the IPS’ discriminatory policy that recognises only ‘M’ and ‘F’)
Are you sick and tired of waiting?
If you are affected by this issue (or want to express support for those who are forced to deny the core identity to obtain a UK passport), then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
Join me in campaign to press for the removal of enforced and inappropriate gendered classification of non-gendered people. Join the call for IPS to amend this discriminatory policy.
And contact your local parliamentary representative and request their support of this issue
There is NO justification in any argument put forward to date that suggests IPS should continue to operate a highly discriminatory policy that inappropriately forces gendered classification on socially invisible non-gendered people in the United Kingdom. We must not lose this opportunity to bring about positive change and end the discrimination.
Government Action Plan
Promised much but slow to deliver – broader LGB&T initiative resulted in relatively high profile and politically driven media events with focus on LG (and B by association) but not much T (might give impression that trans* inclusion within the broader plan extends to nothing more than a politically correct afterthought) – all plan and no action for trans* – again, sick and tired of waiting. Message to government: Can we please have a discernable sign that something is actually happening?
The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered
Copyright ©2012 Christie Elan-Cane
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