UK Supreme Court Rules Against Gender-Neutral Passports

Campaigner Christie Elan-Cane says “this is not the end” and will now take their fight to the European Court of Human Rights.
Campaigner Christie Elan-Cane, who does not identify as either male or female, poses in South Kensington, central London on October 11, 2017
Campaigner Christie Elan-Cane, who does not identify as either male or female, poses in South Kensington, central London on October 11, 2017. Photo: DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images

An activist fighting to be recognised as gender-neutral on their passport has lost an ongoing battle at the Supreme Court. 

Christie Elan-Cane, who has campaigned to have their gender identity recognised as “X” for over a decade, argued that the application process for a passport breaches human rights laws.

However, the UK Supreme Court rejected this argument, ruling that gender was “a biographical detail which can be used to confirm their identity.”

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Elan-Cane responded to the ruling on Twitter, writing: “The UK government and judicial system are on the wrong side of history,” and “this is not the end.”

They will now take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Trans rights charities have shared outrage at the ruling, which provides non-binary people with no way of recognising their chosen identity. 

A spokesperson from Gendered Intelligence, a trans-rights charity, told VICE World News: “Non-binary people currently have no path to legal recognition in the UK. This lack of legal recognition is not only discriminatory but causes harm by erasing an entire demographic comprising tens, if not hundreds of thousands of UK residents."

“We're glad to see Christie Elan-Cane is taking this case to Strasbourg,” the charity added, “and we hope that the European Court of Human Rights recognises the damage done by excluding non-binary people and puts an end to this needless and outdated legislation.”

Across the world, certain countries have come to recognise gender-neutral passports. In 2019, Canada introduced an X category on passports, while Argentina, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Malta, New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Nepal all have third options on passports.