The Long Fight for Third-Gender Passports – Liberal Article
On 1st July, President Biden announced plans for US citizens to self-select their gender on their passports. This would include an option of a third gender option, or “X”, in the future. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, however, dampened expectations for a quick addition of the latter. Citing several internal and international hurdles, Blinken made it clear this will not appear any time soon.
In the UK, this week we saw the next chapter in the long third-gender passport saga. The UK Supreme Court heard Christie Elan-Cane’s appeal to their failed attempt in 2019 to receive an X-gender passport. The US’s signalling might mean the international climate is changing, but Britain’s bureaucracy is still a significant roadblock.
The complexity of gender in official government documentation is a minefield. One that the vast majority of us may never experience. Filling in your paperwork incorrectly is more than just a nuisance. It can sometimes be a choice between degradation of self-identity or committing a criminal offence.
Part of the reason the Biden administration has promised a third gender for passports in the future, rather than sooner, is summed up by Secretary Blinken; he promises his department will be working with others to ensure “as smooth a travel experience as possible”. Aka making sure third-gender passports are accepted by other nations. Denmark, Australia, Canada, and India currently allow an opt-in third gender on passports, along with several US states for state IDs, which has been known to cause issues when travelling across state lines.
Part of the government’s case, and the Judge’s reasoning at the Court of Appeal in 2020, was that it is not a breach of Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) to refuse an X gender.
As of right now, only five members of the Council of Europe permit the use of X markers. However, this judgement has left open the possibility that, in the future, things might be different. The US’s move to recognise a third gender option on passports could be fundamental. If one of the world’s most influential countries is taking steps in this direction, the UK could soon follow suit.
However, another reason cited by the Court of Appeal for denying the X marker was the benefit to society given by the government’s coherent and consistent administrative procedure (two words rarely associated with British institutions). According to the government, introducing a third gender will cause a massive headache for the fractured web of agencies, departments, and the NHS if each took a different approach to their gender policies.
Some have raised concerns of security through the complications of transposing an individual’s third gender into a destination’s binary system through international travel. This ignores, though, the far more frequent harm caused to those whose gender identity is fragmented across different institutions.
The government has been slow and sparse in its assisting of trans* and non-binary individuals. The government finally reduced the cost of a Gender Recognition Certificate from £140 to £5 in May 2021, after announcing their intention to do so in September 2020. While this has significantly reduced the financial burden, it has not made the process any easier. It is still primarily conducted in person rather than online (suffering major backlogs due to Covid) and requires two medical reports.
More needs to be done to better integrate those who do not conform to the gender binary. The government should also stop using inefficient and outdated bureaucracy as an excuse. The government, and Conservative Party as a whole, are dragging their feet on their already lacklustre policies. In the process, thousands of people suffer. According to Stonewall, about 600,000 individuals (or roughly 1% of the population) are trans* and non-binary in the UK.
A thorough and comprehensive rehaul of the workings of public institutions is needed in order to better accommodate those who do not fit the gender binary. The size of this task should not be an excuse for inaction.
Written by Junior Liberal Writer, Daniel Jones
Point of Information
We Need Full Gender Administrative Equality For Our Trans and Non-Binary Siblings – A Labour Response
I praise Daniel’s article not only for its clear attention to the issue but also from the point of being represented in the political conversation.
I, myself, am non-binary, so of course, I have a stake in this issue. There has been a long and hard struggle for trans and non-binary people in this country for social, medical and legal equality.
The legal recognition of non-binary may be rare in most countries around the world, but the few that do show that implementing such a scheme is possible. Moreover, the legal recognition of non-binary might kickstart direly needed reform for the trans healthcare system in this country which is bureaucratic, bloated and no longer fit for purpose.
To legally change your gender in this country includes paying the fee of a Gender Recognition Certificate, after which you are put on a two-year waiting list to then be reviewed by a panel to determine whether you are worthy enough. This is ONLY to change your birth certificate.
To get treatment access to hormones or puberty blockers, which are completely harmless, you have to go to one of the few scant clinics in this country and wait in another line there. I know many trans and non-binary friends who have sought treatment in other countries because our legal and medical framework is so poor.
In comparison, there is a drug for hair loss called Propecia that I could get over the counter at any pharmacy in the country right now that has long been tied to suicide and depression for users. No waiting lists, no special counsel, no strings attached. We badly need to move to a self-declaration model for changing one’s gender as seen in Ireland, Portugal and Norway. We must also pump more money into resources and learning material for trans health.
Education is crucially important here. It ties into the biggest opponent of legal recognition for non-binary: the UK print media. The UK’s print media, and their entrenched class of professional transphobes, has a serious anti-trans and non-binary problem. Print newspapers run around the clock to publish and amplify transphobic voices. The Times posted a litany of anti-trans and anti-Stonewall articles in the last days of LGBT pride month. Liz Truss, the supposed equalities minister has urged the government to pull out of Stonewall’s employment program.
It doesn’t just come from the right-wing either, Rosie Duffield, the chair of Labour’s Women Parliamentary Party has openly expressed transphobic views and was backed up by other senior MPs such as Jess Phillips and Racheal Reeves.
It comes from both sides. Whether it be from attacks on charities that help us like Stonewall or Mermaids; likening treatment to “conversion therapy”; dehumanising and reducing our lives to that of our genitals it creates a truly toxic climate.
Fear of us is climbing to a rabid and deadly degree. It doesn’t just affect us but allows other bigotry to be normalised because of it. I have seen very liberal people over the past few weeks promote a book on “trans ideology” that incorrectly links Jewish billionaires to lobbying for a “global agenda” and has citations links to actual Nazis.
We are not something to fear; we are not here to make others lives worse; I am not being paid by George Soros.
We are in dire need of understanding, reform and being listened to. Small steps like affirming third gender options for official documents and easing the process to change these documents will literally save lives.
With affirmation, we live longer. Enough of the fear, enough of the paranoia, let us reform to build a fairer system for trans and non-binary people in the UK.
Written by Senior Labour Written, Joseph McLaughlin
The Enormity Of the Task Is All the More Reason To Complete It – A Conservative Response
I must applaud my colleague, Daniel, for writing such an in-depth and sensitive article on an extremely challenging topic. If I am being completely honest, it is not something that I knew very much about before reading this article. Upon further research, the process of receiving a Gender Recognition Certificate is exceptionally difficult, as Daniel highlights. Whilst the cost of receiving this recognition is significantly cheaper, the process is unfairly long. Covid has added even more of a roadblock in the process.
I strongly agree with Daniel when he says that “the size of this task should not be an excuse for inaction”. In fact, the size of the task is more of a reason for action. It could be the catalyst for significant change in the way that trans and non-binary people live their lives. It could reshape the way that trans and non-binary people are treated in the future. The enormity of the task at hand could have a huge domino effect on the various other issues that trans and non-binary people face daily.
Just because it is a lengthy and detailed process does not mean that we should not do it at all. That logic did not stop the government from putting the work into Brexit. Nor should that logic be applied to the lives of the trans and non-binary population.
Written by Senior Conservative Writer, Rebecca Selt