The deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats says he is “really disappointed” by the Identity and Passport Service’s decision to reject non gender-specific passports for trans and intersex people in Britain.
In a letter Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes commented: “I am really disappointed by the UK Passport Service response. The outcome of the review appears to completely contradict the spirit of the government’s own Transgender Action Plan.
“The plan recognised the need to review how gender identification is represented in passport application forms and passports. I will continue to urge the government to follow the lead of countries such as New Zealand and Australia which have already adopted ‘X’ as a valid third category for essential personal identification documents.”
The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) were required to investigate the potential for non gender-specific ‘X’ passports for passport holders who do not identity as male or female as part of a commitment made by the government in December 2011 towards advancing trans equality.
The outcome of the internal policy review has not been published, however, in response to a letter from Mr Hughes, written on behalf of campaigner Christie Elan-Cane, IPS ex-chief executive Sarah Rapson confirms “an applicant for a British passport will continue to be required to stipulate either male or female gender at the point of application and that gender will be included in the passport when issued.”
Ms Rapson, who has since been replaced as chief executive, claims that ‘X’ passports would represent a threat to security and makes reference to personal searches needing to be conducted by someone of the “appropriate gender”.
In the letter to Mr Hughes, Ms Rapson states: “We do not consider that currently there is either the ability or the benefits for the British passport holder to require an ‘X’ in their passport”.
Christie Elan-Cane, from the campaign ‘NON-GENDERED – Fighting for Legal Recognition,’ is also a constituent in Mr Hughes’ south London seat of Bermondsey and Old Southwark.
“This response is disgraceful and completely unacceptable,” Christie said. “The decision not to proceed with ‘X’ passports is a devastating blow to people who desperately require documentation that affirms rather than misrepresents their identity.
“The IPS were under an obligation to seriously consider how to meet the needs of people who do not define as male or female and it is apparent there was no consideration given at all.”
Christie added: “In refusing to acknowledge this issue, the government are saying that we are insignificant and we do not matter. It does not appear to regard legitimate identity as a fundamental human right when the identity is not male or female. Maybe the government does not regard us as human.”