Fighting for legal and social recognition outside the societal gender system
Legal Recognition of Non-Gendered Identity within the European Union
As reported here in postings made earlier this year, I approached Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP (Liberal Democrat MEP for London) and requested her support in taking this issue to the European Parliament.
A response to Baroness Ludford’s written question to the European Commission (EPQ) has been published and it is time to consider the next stage of the process.
Baroness Ludford believes “it is legitimate to extend the interpretation of EU law so that it protects not only (as it does) people who have undergone gender reassignment but also those whose gender identity is complex or who identify with no gender. We also need to promote a greater public awareness of transgender and gender neutrality issues.”
This is still relatively the beginning of what I am sure will be a very long process, but the fight for legal recognition for a socially marginalized and invisible section of human beings who live as ‘non persons’ outside the gendered societal structure has moved to a new level.
I will try to keep this website updated as further news becomes available.
Update from Australia
I understand that the Australian Commonwealth Government is to establish a working group to consider the recommendations made by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in their report from last year. One of the recommendations made in that report was that the government should make provision for Australian citizens who do not identify as male or female by adding a third non gender-specific option on documents and government records. An audit is to be conducted of all ways that information regarding sex and gender is collected by the federal government.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH)
The WPATH Board of Directors has recently issued a statement urging the “de-psychopathologisation of gender variance worldwide” www.wpath.org. One must assume this statement would include non-gendered identities but I await clarification from WPATH.
A HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE
In the meantime, I have written a letter to the Westminster Parliament Secretary of State for Health and raised a number of issues where I believe that non-gendered members of society within the United Kingdom are currently being failed by NHS policies that categorise the patient in accordance to gendered role, and the insensitivity that is often too apparent when health service personnel are confronted with a patient who does not occupy a place within the gendered societal structure. Such failings are to the detriment of the non-gendered patient who is discouraged from seeking help where help would otherwise be available even if the patient suspects they might be seriously ill.
I will stress again however that I have never regarded this issue as a ‘health’ issue. The legal recognition of human existence outside the gendered societal structure and the right of the individual to be acknowledged within ones true identity by the rest of society are fundamental HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES. Lack of access to decent healthcare is also a human rights issue.
Gendered Categorisation within the Private Sector (or ‘Can we get rid of THAT question?’)
I have written many times before of the endemic categorisation in accordance to gendered role within the private sector and about the difficulties this enforced gendered categorisation presents for the human being whose core identity is not male or female.
At such a time when the positive initiatives taking place now within Europe and Australia ultimately result in anti-discrimination measures becoming law (which they will in the future, I have no doubt) it would surely make illegal the existing practice of many commercial organisations that demand unnecessary and irrelevant gendered categorisation as a prerequisite for potential customers/members/applicants etc. before they agree to make available the facilities on offer, eg. customer accounts, club memberships and even the right to register on some websites. I am talking about forms of application and/or registration that require a gendered role as part of the application/registration process.
I find this question inappropriate and insulting. I am offended that I should be expected to deny my identity in order to access something that is either completely essential to my life or something that could in fact be relatively mundane. In both of these sets of circumstances it is an affirmation that gendered society does not recognise me as a person and does not place any value upon my existence.
The purpose of this question is usually just profile data gathering for marketing initiatives. The outcome is that I am unable to access many goods and services within the private sector unless I am prepared to deny my identity and become a collaborator in my own invisibility in the process.
I recently wrote a letter of formal complaint to the chief executive officer of a well known company that offers a facility which I had intended to use but was prevented from accessing due to THAT question appearing as a compulsory field in an online application process (I will not disclose the company at this moment). I told the CEO that I believed the question was unnecessary and I also took the opportunity to educate him about the issue in the course of my complaint.
I have received a reply that leads me to feel reasonably optimistic that this particular company might reconsider its current policy and that the question could either be removed completely or a third option provided for those who “prefer not to say”. Not quite the same as ‘non gender-specific’ but provision nonetheless.
This is my ‘test case’ because I intend to contact other companies that demand a gendered role before making goods and/or services available to the public in an attempt to make them review their existing policy when it comes to data gathering.
I have had some successes in the past with regards to persuading companies and organisations to respect my non gender-specific title and I managed to get an automated arrivals facility installed in the reception at my local healthcare centre upgraded whereby patients can now register their arrival by date of birth rather than stating a gendered role (notwithstanding the odd problem, such as outlined in my previous posting of 28 June 2010, but that was taken care of).
This is the time to challenge those companies that fail to recognise our legitimate right of existence and believe they can continue to exclude us from their corporate strategies.
I would like to know whether anyone else has challenged a private sector company or public sector institution about an inappropriate requirement to state a gendered role as part of an application/registration process to receive goods or services and what happened as a result. Please contact me through the website facility and give the details in brief (no attachments please). I would like to investigate the possibility of a future co-ordination of efforts. No personal disclosures will be put on this website without having first obtained the permission of the sender.
The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered.