Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the societal gender system
At last – I’m pleased to announce some positive developments:
The European Commission
Baroness Sarah Ludford, Liberal Democrat MEP for London has agreed to support this issue:
Written question to the Commission regarding legal recognition of non-gendered persons.
“In a paper on human rights and gender identity in July 2009, the former Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg noted that EU directives which implement the principle of equal treatment between men and women have a defined emuneration of discrimination grounds, and these do not include gender identity.
Also, a report from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) noted that there is no reason not to extend the protection from discrimination under EU law to people who wish to present their gender differently to that registered at birth.
In view of these opinions of human rights experts, does the Commission consider that EU legislation sufficiently protects citizens who choose to identify as non-gendered or present their gender differently to that registered at birth? Does it have any plans to revise EU Directives in future in a more gender neutral way? “
The written question is not yet available to view on the European Parliament website at time of writing this, but I have assurance the question should be documented online very shortly, so have provided link below where the question can be tracked (try the link every few days – the question will appear eventually):
I am informed it could take up to six weeks before a response from the Commission and the next course of action will be decided upon once a response has been received.
I have always tried to stress the point that legal recognition and equality of treatment for the most marginalized human beings who lead a socially invisible existence outside the gendered societal structure is a HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE whereas the perception within the United Kingdom tends towards designating anything ‘trans related’ into a ‘health issue’. The pathologisation (and resultant stigmatisation) of what is fundamentally an innate inability to conform within a gendered societal structure is something I totally oppose.
It is poignant and refreshing that the terminology used here does not seek to pathologise what should only ever have been a human rights issue.
I offer my deepest thanks to Baroness Ludford in hope that legislators of all sectors within the European Union will begin to take note.
More News from Australia
But once again it is Australia that continues to lead the way. The state government of New South Wales has issued what is believed to be Australia’s first ‘Sex not Specified’ recognised details certificate (in place of a birth certificate).
The NSW Births Deaths and Marriages Department issued the certificate in accordance with a recommendation from the Australian Human Rights Commission report launched in March 2009. The recommendation was that an ‘unspecified’ option should be provided on government forms and records alongside the gendered options of male and female.
This is a fundamental achievement as Norrie - a resident of Sydney, NSW - is the first known citizen from a western culture to be issued with a non gender-specific identification document in replacement of an existing birth certificate.
I do remember a non gender-specific passport was issued to another Australian citizen in 2003 where the birth certificate recorded an ‘indeterminate’ sex, and it is a little known fact that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) accepted standards do permit the use of three options within the sex/gender field on a passport application form – but the third non gender-specific option is not mandatory and most nations choose not to offer the non gender-specific option. Two known exceptions are India and Malaysia. In addition to that, the Nepalese government have issued a non gender-specific identity card to at least one trans. citizen. But now the Australian authorities have chosen to recognise the validity of human identity outside the gendered structure, and legal recognition for those who exist outside the gendered societal structure is a human rights issue the rest of western civilisation cannot continue to ignore.
The traditional stance of the United Kingdom is to resist all progressive change until forced to follow where others have lead. This has certainly been my experience where much discussion has focussed on the problems when I would rather concentrate on solutions. And there is the ongoing perception that the denial of a socially legitimate existence for those who identify outside the gendered societal structure is a ‘health issue’. The UK will risk appearing increasingly out of touch as this human rights issue is embraced elsewhere. Change is not just achievable but inevitable.
Thank-you Norrie, and enjoy your freedom!
The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered.