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May 20th, 2016

Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the gendered societal structure


Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb has tabled a new parliamentary Early Day Motion (EDM) on 18 May 2016, the first day of the new 2016-17 Session. EDM 11 will build upon and hopefully surpass the support expressed for EDM 660 that was signed by 100 MPs (and supported by many more) at close of the last session.

That this House recognises the support expressed during the 2015-16 parliamentary session to address the issues faced by people whose identities are neither male nor female; believes that people are compromised and diminished as a result of inappropriate gender references on their personal identity information; acknowledges that all passports issued by HM Passport Office are currently gender-specific and it is therefore not possible to obtain a British passport that contains no reference to gendered identity; understands that the International Civil Aviation Organisation standard specification for machine-readable travel documents, ICAO Document 9303, permits X (unspecified) alongside F (female) and M (male) under a mandatory sex category; notes that citizens of Australia and New Zealand are able to obtain a non gender-specific X passport and that India, Nepal and Pakistan make provision for their citizens when neither M nor F are appropriate; further believes that similar provision is needed in the UK where current discriminatory policy denies non-gendered and bi-gendered people a legitimate identity; and therefore urges the Government and HM Passport Office to make non gender-specific X passports available in the UK to people who do not identify with a particular gender.

This is the fifth EDM tabled by various MPs over four consecutive parliamentary sessions calling upon the UK Government to accord the fundamental right of legitimate identity to people who are failed by current governmental practice of defining, categorising and legislating in accordance to gender, a section whose existence has historically been ignored by governing bodies and policy makers, a section that until very recently had no voice and a section that remains socially invisible without basic civil rights.

We are asking for legitimate identity that others can take for granted. As more people become aware of this issue it is evident there is a broad consensus of injustice that an individual’s life and life chances are ruined because of who they are and how they define. It is evident that HM Passport Office’s discriminatory policy is unsustainable. The Women and Equalities Select Committee has called upon the UK Government to introduce ‘X’ PASSPORTS as a necessary provision. Preparations are ongoing to launch a case for judicial review against HM Passport Office’s discriminatory policy.

11 MPs are signatories to EDM 11 just two days after tabling and, unlike EDM 660, there is time for EDM 11 to reach 100+ signatures during rather than at the end of the current parliamentary session. At that point there will be calls for a parliamentary debate if HM Passport Office’s discriminatory policy remains in place. The pressure will be on the Government and support for this issue is strong.

All MPs should be encouraged to support EDM 11. Again I am asking everyone who cares about this issue to contact their representative MP and urge them to support the motion.

If all MPs voted independently on the provision of ‘X’ PASSPORTS today – I am certain we would win.

We have the right to expect the UK Government to act and demand that HM Passport Office amends its discriminatory policy that forces non-gendered people to accept inappropriate and unwanted gendered references on personal identity documentation, forces people whose identities are neither male nor female to deny their identity or lose the freedom to travel along with other benefits associated with the passport as a generic identification document and forces people to become unwilling colluders in and compounders of their own social invisibility.

I do not expect to still be fighting the UK Government for my ‘X’ PASSPORT this time next year.

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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