Trans woman fighting for pension rights
A trans woman who refuses to divorce her wife is fighting to get her pension backdated to the age of 60.
Christine Timbrell completed her transition in 2000 but is not legally recognised as a woman because she will not divorce her wife of 42 years, Joy.
Currently, women can claim a pension from the age of 60, while men must wait until 65. This is slowly changing and will be equalised by 2020.
Mrs Timbrell is now 68 and wants her pension backdated to the age of 60.
She said: “We were married by a bishop almost 43 years ago and we are regular churchgoers.
“The Department of Work and Pensions say the remedy is for us to divorce and go into a civil partnership, but we say that’s not the same.
“We are not gay and it would be hypocritical to pretend that we are. That is what we would be doing by entering into a civil partnership.”
The pair are religious and see divorce as being against their faith.
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The 2004 gender recognition act allows trans men and women to be legally and fully recognised in their new genders, but only if they divorce or have their marriages annulled.
Mrs Timbrell is challenging the Department of Work and Pensions at the Appeal Court.
Her lawyer argues that forcing her to end her happy marriage violates her human rights in respect of her home and family life.
Jeremy Johnson, acting for the DWP, said Mrs Timbrell had applied to legally change her gender and that women born female are not legally allowed to marry another woman.
He also argued that if both women were eligible for pensions aged 60, they would received “preferential treatment” compared to a mixed-gender marriage couple.
The appeal continues.