A petition, which has been signed by some MPs including the former equality minister, has been started to urge the UK government to allow the possibility of gender-neutrality on passports.
The online petition aims to have the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), the government body that issues passports to allow people who don’t identify as male or female to have a legitimate identity by allowing a gender-neutral option on passports such as ‘X’, rather than having to choose ‘M’ or ‘F’.
A statement from organisers of the online petition said: “The petition aims to persuade the IPS – and the United Kingdom government – to do the right thing by ending the denial of legitimate identity to those who cannot define as ‘M’ or ‘F’.”
MPs Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat former Minister for Women and Equality, now the International Development Minister, and MP Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the LIberal Democrats, who came out as bisexual to PinkNews in 2006, have both signed the petition which has almost three hundred signatures.
The petition says: “The passport is used extensively as a generic identifier that serves multiple purposes in addition to its origination as a travel document.
“It is neither acceptable nor appropriate that the information contained in a passport should misrepresent the identity of the passport holder.”
It is possible for gendered trans people to apply for a UK passport that records the gender rather than the natal sex but it is not currently possible to obtain a passport that contains no reference of gendered identity
The petition goes on to say that the way passports are currently issued “misrepresents rather than affirms their identity,” by not allowing a gender-neutral option.
Back in 2011, the Home Office said it was going to consider allowing gender-neutral passports. A Home Office spokesman said: “We are exploring with international partners and relevant stakeholders the security implications of gender not being displayed on the passport.”
Changes were made to Australian passport rules in 2011, which allowed the option of ‘X’ in passports there. New Zealand also offers the gender-neutral option on passports in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organisation specification document 9303.
The petition will be presented to the Identity and Passport Service prior to conclusion of its internal policy review, which is due to end in February.