05:40 GMT +314 December 2017
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    Not a Man, Not a Woman: UK Faces Legal Demand for Gender-Neutral Passports

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    A campaigner seeking gender-neutral UK passports has won the right to mount a challenge against the British government in the High Court in London. Christie Elan-Cane, who does not identify as male or female, believes the passport application process is discriminatory.

    A campaigner, demanding Britain follows Canada, Germany and Australia in issuing gender-neutral passports, has won the first stage of their legal battle.

    Christie Elan-Cane does not identify as male or female, and says the system should not make an individual tick either of those boxes.

    At a hearing in London on Wednesday, October 11, High Court judge Andrew Gilbart granted Cane permission to bring a judicial review.

    'Double Standards'

    "I am really elated but it is just one stage. There's still lots of work to do. We are not there yet," said Elan-Cane after the hearing.

    Elan-Cane says the British government recognizes gender-neutral passports from foreigners, but does not offer them to UK nationals, which is allegedly discriminatory.

    Kate Gallafent, a lawyer representing Elan-Cane, said her client felt that filling in the passport declaration was a false declaration of gender identity.

    "The Passport Office's refusal to provide for X passports affects not only non-gendered persons such as the claimant, but a broad section of the public," said Ms. Gallafent.

    It is not known how many people in the UK would wish to use gender-neutral passports but thousands of transgender individuals, those with gender dysphoria, and so-called intersex people, are understood to be keen on the option.

    "The size of the potentially affected class is substantial; it has been estimated to be as high as one percent of the population," Ms. Gallafent added.

    Support From Transgender blogger and MP

    Mia Violet, a transgender blogger, supports the idea of gender-neutral passports.

    "We need to ensure everybody is recognized. For trans people to be seen, I think that's going to be incredibly important to them because so often they are overlooked," said Violet.

    In 2016, Maria Miller, a Conservative MP and chair of Parliament's Women and Equalities Committee, said gender-neutral passports and driving licences should be introduced.

    "As a society and a government we should be looking at ways of trying to strip back talking about gender, and only do that when it's absolutely necessary. We need to understand that gender stereotyping can be as damaging for men as it can be for women," Ms. Miller said at the time.

    "For individuals who have decided to transition but haven't necessarily got the right documentation, it can cause problems. Why do we need gender on our driving licence? Why do we have to have it on our passport if it doesn't really add identification? It's not relevant," she added.

    Germany, Australia, Denmark, Malta, Nepal and Pakistan do not require passport holders to identify their gender, and Canada recently followed suit. 

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    Tags:
    passports, gender neutrality, man, woman, transgender, society, Britain, United Kingdom
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