General News

UK’s highest court to hear case on gender neutral passports

Rachel Badham November 15, 2020

Christie Elan-Cane

The UK’s highest court is due to hear an appeal in March 2021 from non-gendered activist Christie Elan-Cane, who uses per/perself pronouns, on the possibility of allowing for gender-neutral UK passports. The UK’s current passport policy requires holders to have either an M or an F on the document, but Elan-Cane has been campaigning for over 25 years to create a third, gender-neutral option for citizens. Per previous attempts to add a third option to passports were unsuccessful after the Home Office’s Court of Appeal said the current regulations are not unlawful, but recognised the rights of those who are gender diverse. 

However, the court later found the right to respect for private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights does include a right to respect for a person’s non-gendered identity, allowing the case to be re-addressed. On Thursday November 12, Elan-Cane’s law firm, Clifford Chance, announced it had secured permission to appeal to the UK Supreme Court to challenge governmental refusal to issue gender neutral passports. Jemima Roe, associate at Clifford Chance, said: “This case raises important questions regarding the right to respect for individuals’ identity, specifically for those who identify as neither or not exclusively male or female.”

They continued: “Access to “X” passports is crucial for the protection of the human rights of this demographic, who are otherwise forced to use a passport which misrepresents their identity. Clifford Chance is proud to be working with Christie Elan-Cane and Blackstone Chambers to argue this case before the Supreme Court.” Numerous other countries have a gender neutral X option on passports; Argentina, Canada, Iceland, India, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Uruguay, most of Australia and some US states all allow for X gender markers.