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100 MPs back legal recognition for people who aren’t male or female

Nick Duffy May 16, 2016
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American Passport

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A hundred MPs have signed a motion urging the government to legally recognise “people whose identities are neither male nor female”.

At present in the UK, a person’s legal gender can only be male or female – and does not cater for intersex or transgender people who do not necessarily identify with either gender, or were born with indeterminate genders.

A number of countries have created systems which allow their passports to recognise ‘Gender X’ people as a category separate from male or female, with New Zealand and Australia among those to make provision for Gender X alongside M and F.

The UK’s Women and Equalities Minister Nicky Morgan signalled she was “open” to introducing the legal change – while a Parliamentary Select Committee emphatically backed reform.

More than 100 MPs have now signed a motion tabled by former health minister Norman Lamb on the issue.

The motion states that “people are compromised and diminished as a result of inappropriate gender references on their personal identity information”.

It adds: “All passports issued by HM Passport Office are currently gender-specific and it is therefore not possible to obtain a British passport that contains no reference to gendered identity.”

Noting that provisions for Gender X passports are made in a number of countries, it continues: “This house further believes that similar provision is needed in the UK where current discriminatory policy denies non-gendered and bi-gendered people a legitimate identity.”

“[We] therefore urge that the Government and HM Passport Office make non gender-specific X passports available in the UK to people who do not identify with a particular gender.”

Early Day Motions are largely symbolic and allow MPs to draw attention to an event or cause.

The Early Day Motion has attracted strong support from the Lib Dems, Scottish National Party, Greens and Plaid Cymru, as well as a group of Labour MPs.

Just three Conservatives – Crispin Blint, Angela Watkinson and Peter Bottomley – have signed the EDM to date, though many MPs choose not to sign EDMs due to their purely symbolic nature.

Explaining their stance on EDMs, one Tory backbencher told PinkNews the motions are “irrelevant and a waste of Parliamentary resources”.

However, campaigners are confident it will give Nicky Morgan pause for thought while mulling her response to the issue.

Non-gendered campaigner Christie Elan-Cane said: “That so many Members of Parliament have openly pledged their support for this issue is a monumental achievement given the issue was completely under the radar when I first approached my former MP in 2005.

“The issue is not controversial to those of us who define without gender, neither male nor female, whose lives are eroded by social invisibility and a lack of clear, enforceable civil rights.

“Legitimate identity is a fundamental human right and governing authorities cannot just continue ignoring our existence indefinitely. The issue will not go away.

“A growing number of people are resisting enforced and inappropriate gendered categorisation. Provision of ‘X’ Passports is just the beginning in our fight for equality and fair treatment.”

Related topics: Conservative, gender, gender x, LGBT, passport, Tory, Trans, Transgender

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