A gender-neutral campaigner has lost a Supreme Court challenge against the UK government over not allowing gender-neutral passports.
Christie Elan-Cane, who identifies as non-gendered, said requiring people to say if they are male or female on application forms breaches human rights laws. The activist brought a case to the UK’s highest court in the latest round of a legal battle for ‘X’ passports.
Elan-Cane, who uses the pronouns per/per/perself, has campaigned for more than 25 years to achieve legal and social recognition for non-gendered identity.
However, in the judgment, the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal. Giving the ruling, Lord Reed said: ‘The form is concerned with the applicants’ gender as a biographical detail which can be used to confirm their identity by checking it against the birth, adoption or gender recognition certificates provided and other official records.
‘It is therefore the gender recognised for legal purposes and recorded in those documents which is relevant.’
The President of the Supreme Court found that Elan-Cane’s interest in being issued with an ‘X’ passport was ‘outweighed’ by other considerations, including ‘maintaining a coherent approach across government’ as to what genders are recognised.
Lord Reed continued: ‘There is no legislation in the United Kingdom which recognises a non-gendered category of individuals.
‘On the contrary, legislation across the statute book assumes that all individuals can be categorised as belonging to one of two sexes or genders, terms which have been used interchangeably.’
Last year appeal court judges ruled the right for a gender neutral passport was ‘beyond argument’ but said government did not breach the law.
Lawyer Kate Gallafent QC, told the Supreme Court Elan-Cane ‘cannot cross a frontier or undergo an identity check without using a passport which misrepresents the appellant’s gender identity’.