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The government is fighting to prevent trans women from accessing their pensions

Meka Beresford November 5, 2016
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Transgender Flag (Getty Images)

The UK government is fighting to prevent transgender women from collecting their state pension.

A series of court cases over the last few years have shown that government lawyers are fighting to deny equality for a group of trans women.

Four women ranging in their sixties and seventies have been wrapped up in the legal case which has been affected by policies and legislation that prevents them from accessing the pension they were entitled too at 60.

One of the pensioners lives in Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency. Corbyn said he was “appalled” by the case.

The lawyer for the ladies estimates the legal case against the Department of Work and Pensions is costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds, more than the combined cost of the pensions that are being withheld.

BuzzFeed News exposed the details of the case as none of the claimants involved had spoken to press previously.

One of the pensioners called Letitia said that she is determined to continue fighting her claim into her seventies, despite having arthritis and glaucoma – and hopes to win “before it’s too late”.

The cases is highly dependent on whether transgender women have obtained a gender recognition certificate (GRC) – a document introduced in 2005 that helps legally establish gender status.

While trans women who have the certificate can receive their pension at 60, the DWP argues that without one, they must wait until they are 65, the pension age for men.

A loophole in this certificate means some of the claimants would have to divorce before obtaining one because they married and later transitioned before same-sex marriage was legal in the UK.

The government’s women and equalities committee suggested certificates should be abolished and replaced with an online gender self-declaration form. However, whilst these plans are being considered it may be too late to help the pensioners.

Another issue the transgender women face is that if they have worked after the age of 60 without the GRC, then they can’t claim for the time when their pension should have been building up.

Letitia obtained the GRC document but was told she would not be backdated on her pension which she should have received.

The claimants plan to be persistent with their legal battles, no matter how long it takes.

“If I have proved nothing else in this life, I have proved I don’t give up. I am fearsomely stubborn – had I not been, I wouldn’t still be here. I will dig myself out of this as long as I have breath in my body. Let’s hope I win before it’s too late,” said Letitia.

Related topics: Government, LGBT, pensions, trans rights, Transgender, UK

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