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Mermaids Press

Today (15 December 2021) the UK’s Supreme Court has dismissed Christie Elan-Cane’s application to have a gender neutral option on passports. 

The Court said that there is no consistent approach from the European Court of Human Rights on whether there is an obligation on European Convention on Human Rights member states, which the UK is one of, to provide a gender neutral passport. The member states have a wide margin to decide whether this is something they want to do. 

The UK government has said they do not want to open up recognition of gender beyond male or female categories and will not have to under this judgment. 

This news will be widely disappointing to non-binary, non-gendered and gender diverse people who cannot have their gender correctly reflected on legal documents, which will continue to also include passports. X passports are permitted in six Council of Europe states, namely: Germany, Denmark, Austria, Malta, Iceland and the Netherlands. 

Although the Employment Tribunal decided earlier this year non-binary and gender fluid people were protected by the Equality Act 2020, there is currently no option in the UK to be legally recognised as anything other than male or female. Non-binary and gender diverse people who are not male or female cannot hold a marriage certificate, a birth certificate, a passport or anything that records their gender identity accurately. 

Mermaids will continue to advocate for a future where non-binary, non-gendered and gender diverse people can live freely with the same rights and recognition as anyone else”

This is also a defeat for the wider community, where the government has reinstated that people should be recorded as two categories on their passport: male or female. We question the necessity, humanity and usefulness of all of this. 

Our non-binary Director of Legal and Policy, Lui Asquith said: “We stand with Christie Elan-Cane and per tireless efforts in this case as well as all the other transgender, non-binary and gender diverse people impacted by this judgment.” 

“This will not be the end of non-binary and non-gendered recognition in the UK and Mermaids will continue to advocate for a future where non-binary, non-gendered and gender diverse people can live freely with the same rights and recognition as anyone else.”

Christie Elan-Cane this morning tweeted that the case will now go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to be reviewed.