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January 29th, 2016

Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure

Spectator Article

The Women and Equalities Committee’s ‘Transgender Equality’ report was targeted by controversial commentator Melanie Phillips in a dangerously ill-informed article that recently appeared in right-wing publication The Spectator.

Phillips took issue that my non gender-specific pronoun ‘per’ was recognised within the report whilst completely failing to note the valid point I was making when I reminded the Committee that the former coalition government’s discredited trans* equality action plan was “all plan and no action”.

Among other things, Phillips decried the Committee’s positive stance on trans* depathologisation and described the encouragement of transphobic hate crime reporting as “sinister”.

An accompanying podcast featured a discussion with Phillips and a representative from the Civil Service trans* support organisation ‘a:gender’. Far from challenging Phillips on her reprehensible views, the a:gender representative appeared to cede to them. But a:gender does have form in this respect. This organisation’s dinosaur views are further to the right of the political spectrum than Phillips could ever hope to be. A trans* ‘support’ organisation that does not believe in personal autonomy nor does it believe in the fundamental right of legitimate identity. The organisation is vehemently against the principle of non gender-specific option ‘X’ for those who do not define as male or female because they feel that provision for non-gendered people somehow undermines them! Its senior members cannot accept the reality of trans* experience outside stereotypical male and female gendered roles and they seek to deny legitimacy to those whose identities do not fit into their limited world view. There is no logic to their argument. Just old fashioned ignorance and bigotry.

One must ask therefore, what exactly is the message being conveyed by a:gender away from the public gaze? The group’s senior members act as policy advisers to the UK Government on trans* issues and yet they are unaccountable to those whose lives are impacted by Government decisions because they are not ‘public’ figures. With this in mind, one might begin to understand why there has been such a distinct lack of progress on trans* issues in the UK and why commitments made by Government under the trans* equality action plan never got to see the light of day.

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

Jan. 29th, 2016

Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure

Is the UK Government about to U-Turn on ‘X’ Passports?

An announcement last July that ‘Transgender Equality’ was to be the focus of a fledgling Women and Equalities Committee’s inaugural inquirytook many people by surprise.

On 14 January 2016, the Select Committee duly reported its findings and key recommendations.

One particular recommendation predictably found attention – that “The UK must follow Australia’s lead in introducing an option to record gender (sic) as “X” on a passport.

The recommendation was in sharp contrast to current Government policy “…..it is not Government policy to identify such people for the purpose of issuing non-gender-specific official documents”.

The Committee’s recommendation for ‘X’ Passports was definitive whereas recommendations pertaining to wider issues surrounding non-gendered identity were opaque. The Committee suggested “a wholesale review of issues” and that “The Government must look into the need to create a [third] legal category …… and the full implications of this.” with an admission the issues were “beyond the scope of our inquiry”.

But there was nothing opaque about the recommendation for ‘X’ Passports. The UK Government “must” introduce ‘X’ as an option. As is often the case, the truth hides behind smoke and mirrors.

Committee Chair Maria Miller previously had ultimate responsibility over an extensive ‘Equalities’ portfolio while Government was furiously backpedalling to renege upon an earlier commitment to consider proposals for the issuance of ‘X’ Passports in the UK. Government backpedalled so furiously that a policy review by the former Identity and Passport Service, now HM Passport Office (HMPO) was effectively nothing more than a sham.

The UK Government’s rejection of ‘X’ Passports appeared on the surface to have been a decision taken unilaterally by HMPO.

HMPO’s discriminatory policy was about to come under legal scrutiny through a proposed judicial review application.

In October 2014 HMPO was stripped of its semi-autonomous ‘executive agency’ status and lost the independence that blurred the lines on policy decision making. HMPO is now part of the Home Office therefore Government cannot remain distanced on this issue.

HMPO’s position is untenable given the overriding need for non gender-specific documentation as highlighted in the Committee’s report. Maria Miller has effectively distanced herself while HMPO favours the upholding of a shameful discriminatory policy.

More details about background to this can be found here

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


Christie Elan-Cane

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