Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure
‘X’ PASSPORTS IN THE UK
Having received a frankly disgusting response from the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) on the outcome of a “policy review” that I can reveal was nothing more than a front, the immediate question was what to do now? The IPS had categorically and unequivocally (and unilaterally??) rejected proposals to allow for non gender-specific ‘X’ passports to be issued in the United Kingdom to members of society who do not define as male or female, this was despite commitments made by the government to the trans* community preceding the launch of the trans* equality action plan and despite the progressive moves undertaken by the respective governments of Australia and New Zealand.
The IPS, an executive agency under the wing of the government Home Office, was tasked with conducting an investigation into proposals to permit the issuing of ‘X’ passports in accordance with the government’s action plan on trans* equality. But the IPS was never really on board with the idea from the beginning and it took a government reshuffle to kill the proposals stone dead – on which I will report in more detail in due course. And I shall try, not only to have this disgraceful decision reversed, but to get to the bottom of what exactly happened to undermine and derail what began as an earnest commitment from within the government.
To recap from previous postings, the IPS ‘review’ was intended to run from January 2012 to February 2013. There was no public information or communication with stakeholders at any time throughout the ‘review’ period. There was nothing emanating from the IPS but a deafening, stony silence. Finally, with February’s arrival and no indication of any forthcoming outcome information, my parliamentary representative the Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP wrote to the IPS requesting a progress update. It took some prompting to generate a response from the IPS until, on 9 April 2013, a response from the IPS was received on which I was copied – a response that was not only negative in terms of an outcome but was also extremely arrogant, derogatory and insulting towards human beings who do not (and cannot) identify in accordance with either male or female.
The letter was signed by former IPS Chief Executive Sarah Rapson, and this official response to my parliamentary representative indicated an unbelievable ignorance of the domestic law for someone in her position while showing obvious contempt for the humane policies being adopted by other countries and a barely disguised contempt for this country’s international obligations, in addition to ignoring the IPS’s own obligations under a UN Charter of Human Rights to which the UK is a signatory. The response contained a number of assertions that were either factually incorrect and/or unproven and the tone of some of the content was downright facetious.
The IPS response gave no indication there had been any genuine consideration of proposals for the introduction of a non gender-specific passport or indeed any level of concern for the people affected by this issue, despite a strong policy statement on the IPS website outlining the agency’s commitment to Equality and Diversity. Instead the response from the IPS to my parliamentary representative comprised a list of spurious and questionable excuses in a vain attempt to justify discrimination against trans* and intersex people who require documentation that affirms rather than misrepresents their identity. Further, this response was concocted with a lack of rationale that made it very clear there had been no serous review at all. In other words – this sham is now wide open to challenge.
Seven days after the IPS response, it was announced on the Home Office website that Sarah Rapson had moved into an executive role at the Home Office and was no longer head of the IPS.
The IPS decision is open to challenge and I will be exploring a number of avenues in order to have this discriminatory outcome overruled – pursuing the matter through both political and legal channels over the coming weeks. Again, more detail will appear in future postings.
Along with numerous – very encouraging – messages of support that I’ve received following the negative outcome are enquiries from people asking if NON-GENDERED – Fighting for Legal Recognition is an organisation they can join.
NON-GENDERED – Fighting for Legal Recognition is a personal campaign rather than an organisation – the campaign has organic roots and really began after I realised that I could not live in the gendered role misappropriated to me, and that I would have to fight against the establishment – against the ‘absolute’ status of the gendered societal structure – in order to reclaim the civil rights and basic human rights that were withdrawn as a consequence of my decision to disclose. As the campaign gained strength – and I was eventually in a position that enabled me to engage with politicians and the government – I felt the campaign should have a name – a ‘branding’ of sorts – that served as a mission statement.
As a personal campaign, there is no membership structure – although there is a mailing list. Write to me at Christie.Elancane@yahoo.co.uk if you want to be included on the list (subscription is free). Please note, I do not have the time to respond to all correspondence and I am not an advisory service.
Offers of support are gratefully received and below are a few suggestions for anyone wanting to help:
First of all, read the IPS policy statement on Equality and Diversity – the words ring very hollow to anyone who is forced to accept inappropriate gendered classification because the irony and hypocrisy of those words are staggering. The IPS, as an instrument of the government, must accept that equality and the right to be treated with respect applies to all https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/identity-and-passport-service/about/equality-and-diversity.
You should write to the new IPS Chief Executive Paul Pugh and explain why you find the current policy that forces passport applicants to declare as either male or female unacceptable, and enquire why the IPS ‘review’ findings were not published email@example.com
Contact your local parliamentary representative and, if you are personally affected by this issue (ie. you would apply for an ‘X’ passport if given the chance), make an appointment to discuss the matter with your MP. For anyone not sure who their MP is, they are all listed here http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
Contact the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). The ministerial team are Maria Miller (Con), Helen Grant (Con) and Jo Swinson (LibDem). Their email addresses are available on the parliament website above. The DCMS general address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, explain to the ministerial team with ‘Equalities’ portfolio why the IPS policy is discriminatory and unacceptable.
Sign my petitions – if you’ve not done so already. ‘X’ passports and the Equality Act 2010.
The position in terms of enforceable legal protection from discrimination would have been much stronger if trans* who do not define as male or female were covered under the Equality Act 2010.
The Equality Act 2010, with the protected strand as applied to trans* lifted from the GRA, is an extremely discriminatory piece of legislation. Imagine if similar strands that apply to race, disability, even sexual orientation discriminated in this way. Would anyone argue that it is somehow acceptable for certain ethnicities/disabilities/religions to be protected under anti-discrimination legislation but that legal protection should not apply to others? The Equality Act 2010 is anti-discrimination legislation that discriminates. The situation as applied to trans* and intersex people is not acceptable and therefore I urge everyone to sign and widely circulate both petitions.
Legal protection for all trans* and intersex in the UK
In support of ‘X’ passports in the United Kingdom
Most of all, the one determinant that would effectively move the issue forward is that non-gendered people are not afraid to be visible and demand the right of legitimate identity. We must demand the social legitimacy that others can take for granted. Turn every obstacle into an opportunity to demand appropriate documentation that does not misrepresent through inappropriate gendered references, demand equality of access to goods and services and all the other provisions that are currently denied and demand the ‘right’ to be heard. You will get knocked back again and again – but keep demanding and make clear this issue will not go away and that we are no longer prepared to accept a situation where our human rights are trodden over – and our existence ignored – by the privileged gendered majority within society.
And let me know about your experiences – good and bad – it will be very helpful to know which MPs are onside with the issue.
RECOGNISING DIVERSITY?: GENDER AND SEXUAL EQUALITIES IN PRINCIPLE AND PRACTICE
For anyone who can get to Leeds on 20-21 June 2013.
The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered
Copyright ©2013 Christie Elan-Cane
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