Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure
22 MP signatures so far and the promise of more in the pipeline. A reasonable start for EDM 907 tabled on 6 January 2014 by Julian Huppert MP (Liberal Democrat: Cambridge).
I profoundly thank Julian and all of the Members who have expressed support for EDM 907.
I have just given up most of my week-end in order to write to almost every eligible Member of the House individually asking their support for the motion. It will take another day or so and these communications should all go out at the same time by middle of the week. If the signature count goes over 50 then we are really getting somewhere although it is unlikely there will be enough support for the issue to be debated on the floor – even upwards of 100 signatures does not guarantee a debate – but EDM 907 is the best chance we have as things stand of getting ‘X’ passports into the mainstream of political consciousness within the immediate future. And worth a try because each and every signature brings us that bit closer.
Many thanks to everyone who has engaged the support of their representative MP in the process, some responses have been really good and others not so, and thanks also to all who’ve blogged and tweeted and helped to spread the word.
As I made clear last year, in the immediate aftermath of the government’s unequivocal rejection of ‘X’ passports being disclosed in a letter to my political representative Simon Hughes MP on which I was copied, the decision not to implement the use of ‘X’ passports will be challenged over and over again. I have explored different avenues in anticipation of having the discriminatory decision overturned – and hope to be able to bring more news fairly soon.
Briefly returning to the situation with NatWest Bank (or rather RBS Banking Group) – you may recall I have been in an ongoing dispute for some time with my banking services provider NatWest over an unnecessary – and inappropriate – requirement that customers should state whether they are male or female in order to register to receive online banking services.
After reaching deadlock I started to look into the prospect of moving my current account to another bank – and found all banks were demanding new customers declare as either male or female in order to open a new account even though no other bank apart from NatWest required a gendered role from existing customers in order to set up online services. So I would be forced to compromise, forced effectively to lie and forced to deny my identity whichever way I wanted to proceed. Typical and sods law that I should happen to be with the wrong bank at the wrong time.
My brief and none too scientific survey identified that inappropriate requirement for new customers to be classified either male or female is mandatory insofar as banks and building societies are concerned. One bank suggested that all banks are bound to compliancy with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules that determine a requirement for gender to be noted when opening a new customer account. The FCA however has a differing view and sent a very helpful response when I wrote to them asking for clarification. According to the FCA spokesperson, banks are misinterpreting the FCA rules and banks are basically getting it wrong! The FCA regulations do not specify that banks should demand a gendered role in order to establish the identity of an account holder or new applicant for financial service products.
Armed with that information I decided to have another go with RBS Banking Group. With a new CEO at the helm, who took the trouble to respond to me in person, I almost let myself believe this time I might be onto a winner. Some weeks later came the typical excuse of a response from someone further down the chain – as per usual – can’t do/ won’t do - something the organisation might consider for the future when its run down and decrepit IT system is upgraded but definitely no plans for the foreseeable. And, of course, with a caveat that FCA regulations currently require that banks should record the gender of account holders.
On the basis that I am obviously better informed about the bank’s legal obligations than those who are running the organisation, I responded attaching the FCA communication and received a reply indicating the bods at the bank are having further discussions on the matter. Not holding my breath because I expect this to run and run – and I still might move my account if it is evident I would have an easier time simply by switching to another bank but I do not see why I should be forced to switch when NatWest meets most of my basic banking needs. So for the time being I will continue in my fight to drag the monolithic carcass of RBS into the 21st Century.
If protection from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 were extended to include all trans*, rather than just those who can blend into the gendered societal mainstream and disappear, then banks and other institutions that discriminate in their provision of goods and services through a corporate failure to recognise or respect the identities of those who do not define as male or female could be subject to legal action.
But, as the debacle over ‘X’ passports has shown, the current government opinion is that we are not worth the bother. More reason than ever to involve your local MP and engage their support for this issue – and remember that they were elected to represent the interests of ALL the people within their area.
Online petitions still active – and currently uncensored by HM government
In support of ‘X’ passports in the United Kingdom
Legal protection for all trans* and intersex in the UK
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The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered