A non-gendered campaigner has lost their High Court battle to get people who don’t consider themselves to be male or female recognised on UK passports.

During the landmark case, Christie Elan-Cane had argued that passports should have an ‘X’ gender category for all non-binary people, calling the current process “inherently discriminatory.”



But High Court judge Mr Justice Jeremy Baker refused the application, which was seeking to rule the government policy as unlawful.

Campaigner Christie Elan-Cane, who does not identify as either male or female, poses in South Kensington, central London on October 11, 2017. A campaigner seeking gender-neutral passports won the right October 11, 2017, to mount a challenge against the British government in the High Court. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS        (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Elan-Cane first applied for a non-gendered passport in 1995 (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty)

Kate Gallafent QC, who was representing Elan-Cane, said during the hearing that the right not to be discriminated against based on gender or sex was enshrined in European law.

“For the claimant, obtaining and using a passport currently involves making a false declaration as to the nature of the claimant’s gender identity, which causes the claimant considerable distress,” said the QC.

“The lack of a non-gender specific passport option impacts on the claimant’s ability to obtain and use a passport on equal terms with persons who identify, and are identified, solely in terms of male or female.”

Campaigner Christie Elan-Cane, who does not identify as either male or female, poses in South Kensington, central London on October 11, 2017. A campaigner seeking gender-neutral passports won the right October 11, 2017, to mount a challenge against the British government in the High Court. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS        (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Elan-Cane said it was a “basic human right to have your identity” (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty)

The Home Office made submissions to the court during the hearing which said that the case should be dismissed.

James Eadie, who was acting for the Home Secretary, said the current policy represents an “administratively coherent system for the recognition of gender.”

Elan-Cane, who first applied for a non-gendered passport in 1995, argued that it was a “basic human right to have your identity.”

They added that the Government was “saying non-gendered people are not human, or just not as important as everyone else.”

Campaigner Christie Elan-Cane, who does not identify as either male or female, poses in South Kensington, central London on October 11, 2017. A campaigner seeking gender-neutral passports won the right October 11, 2017, to mount a challenge against the British government in the High Court. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS        (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Elan-Cane (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty)

This part of the battle for non-gendered passports in the UK has been going since last year.

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In a LiveJournal post explaining their stance, Elan-Cane wrote: “My campaign calls for the legal and social recognition of my non-gendered identity.

“Demanding equality and social legitimacy for all human beings who do not and cannot define within a gendered perimeter of male or female.”

In a statement, their legal team added: “Christie has engaged with politicians and various government departments over a number of years to raise awareness of the issue.

“When the political process had been exhausted and had failed, Christie approached Clifford Chance and subsequently instigated legal proceedings against the UK Government.

UK passports (Karen Bryan/Flickr)

“Christie is not seeking special treatment however does seek to be treated fairly.

“A change of Government policy is urgently needed to address the social invisibility of people in a similar position to Christie who are effectively excluded from full participation within a streamlined gendered society.

Elan-Cane launched their High Court case just months after Stonewall announced its support for the decades-long campaign by calling for the recognition of non-binary people on British passports in its “five-year plan” for trans inclusion.

“Not having legal recognition means non-binary people must constantly live as someone they are not,” the charity said in a statement at the time, adding that are “not recognised or protected under law.”

Several countries including Canada, Ireland, India, New, Zealand, Pakistan and Germany already issue non-gendered passports.




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