All the places with better rights for non-binary people than the UK
Non-binary people are not legally recognised in the UK.
This is despite the fact that, according to the government’s National LGBT survey in 2018 – the largest national survey of LGBT+ people in the world to date, which saw over 108,000 LGBT+ people participate – more than half of transgender people in the UK identify as non-binary.
Public consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) last summer (2018) saw LGBT+ campaigners call for legal recognition to be extended to non-binary people.
The results are yet to be announced, with defence secretary Penny Mordaunt telling PinkNews on July 4 that she hopes to do this “in the coming weeks.” Over 100,000 people responded to the public consultation.
In Scotland, the SNP recently postponed its own GRA reform plans and said that they definitely wouldn’t include legal recognition of non-binary people – even thought the Scottish Government’s own public consultation on GRA reforms found that a 62 percent majority would back giving non-binary people legal recognition.
But the situation in other countries is less dismal. In the following 11 examples, non-binary people are legally recognised or able to obtain ID documents with their correct gender identity.
Argentina’s 2012 gender identity law is seen by many as the gold standard for legal gender recognition. It allows adult (binary) trans people to choose their gender identity on official documents without psychiatric testing or judicial approval, and gives under 18’s the same rights so long as they have parental consent.
In 2018, two people used the precedent set by this law – though they didn’t have to go to court to do it – to have their official documents changed to reflect neither male nor female, but a non-binary gender.
Most Australian states and territories give multiple gender options on birth certificates, which includes a non-binary gender. South Australia, the ACT, NSW and the Northern Territory all have gender-neutral birth certificate options that include non-binary, indeterminate, intersex, other and unknown.
Sex on birth certificates can be changed in all Australian states and territories, and non-binary is recognised as a gender option everywhere but Queensland and Western Australia.
In 2013, Australian government guidelines were brought in to recognise that people “may not identify as exclusively male or female, and that this should be reflected in records held by the government.” The guidelines mean that government departments have 30 days to update the records they hold on you if you inform them that your gender identity is different to the gender identity they have on record.
In June this year, the Canadian government introduced the X gender marker on passports – and, for the next year, it’s free for non-binary Canadians to update this in their passports.
This makes the X option available to all Canadians, although it was available in some provinces before.
Also, in 2017, a Canadian baby born in British Colombia had their health card marked with gender-neutral U – the first time a baby has had a health card without a binary gender marker.
In June 2019, Iceland passed a major new gender identity law that strengthened trans rights in the country and added a third gender option for non-binary people.
The law means that trans people in Iceland will no longer have to go through an invasive and lengthy medical process to change their legally recognised gender and access trans-specific healthcare.
It also means that non-binary people will be able to change their legal gender at the national registry using the new third gender option of ‘X’.
In 2014, India’s Supreme Court made a landmark judgment acknowledging a third gender that is neither male or female.
Recognising trans people is a “human rights issue,” the court said, adding that “it is the right of every human being to choose their gender.”
In 2019, non-binary people in India voted in the Indian general election using their legally recognised non-binary gender identity for the first time.
Malta allowed non-binary people to mark their gender with an X on their passports and other legal documents in 2017.
“No legislature should impose their views on an individual’s right to choose,” said the equalities minister Helena Dalli at the time.
However, Malta still only recognises two official genders – the X marker stands for “undeclared,” signifying a lack of gender, rather than a third gender category.
The Supreme Court of Nepal – all the way back in 2007 – ruled that non-binary be a legally recognised gender for any citizen who doesn’t identify as male or female.
And in 2011, the census in Nepal was the first in the world to allow people to register their gender as non-binary.
In New Zealand, non-binary people can change the gender on their passport to an X without having to change the gender on their birth certificate or other documents. This change came into force in 2012.
Pakistan legally recognised a third gender (the simplest translation into English) in 2009.
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People registering as this third gender – “transvestites, eunuchs and hermaphrodites” – must not be harassed or have their rights violated, the chief justice of Pakistan said at the time.
Laws offering an X gender marker for non-binary people on drivers licenses and other state ID documents have been passed in 13 states.
New Hampshire was the most recent to introduce this legislation, on July 10 2019.
According to the Intersex and Genderqueer Recognition Project, another four US states have recognised at least one non-binary persons gender on ID cards under court order, although the changes haven’t been passed into law.
Uruguay passed a law in 2018 allowing people to change their legal gender to non-binary on a self-determined basis – without the need for proof or approval.
The new law also requires one percent of government jobs to be given to trans people over the next 15 years.