Christie Elan-Cane outside the Royal Courts of Justice

Christie Elan-Cane at Royal Courts of Justice

 The Supreme Court has backed the Government’s decision to not allow gender-neutral passports.  

Justices received an appeal by Christie Elancane, a campaigner who feels that the current Government’s passport policy is both degrading to illogical.

Elan-Cane has been fighting for legal recognition of non-gendered identities for over 25 years. She brought the case to the UK’s highest courts in the most recent round of legal battle for X passports.

Elan-Cane claims that the UK’s passport application process requires people to state whether they are male or feminine.

Supreme Court challenged the Home Secretary’s current policy, Her Majesty’s Passport Office, (HMPO) a part of The Home Office.

The Court of Appeal held that Elancane had engaged Article 8 of European Convention on Human Rights, and that it was not a violation of that right. However, they ruled that Elan-Cane was entitled to private life respect under Article 8. 

The Supreme Court today unanimously rejected the appeal.

Lord Reed gave the following statement in support of the decision: “The form concerns the applicant’s gender as a biographical information which can be used for verification by checking against birth, adoption, or gender recognition certificates and other official records.

“It is, therefore, the gender recognized for legal purposes and recorded on those documents that are relevant.”

The Supreme Court President found Elan-Cane’s desire to be issued an ‘X” passport was outweighed by other factors, such as’maintaining the consistency across government’ regarding what genders will be recognised.

Male and female-only categories on passports are 'degrading' and 'illogical' and people should be allowed to select an X option, the Supreme Court had been told

According to the Supreme Court, passports that only contain male and female characters are both ‘degrading’ or ‘illogical’. People should have the option of selecting an X option.

Earlier this year, justices heard an appeal from campaigner Christie Elan-Cane who believes the Government's current passport policy is degrading and illogical

In a recent appeal, Christie Elancane (patron campaigner) argued that the government’s current Passport Policy is wrong and degrading.

Lord Reed stated that there is no UK legislation which recognizes non-gendered individuals.

“Contrary to popular belief, all legislation assumes that individuals are able to be classified according either to their gender or one of two sexes. Terms which were used interchangeably have not been used in law.”

In July, justices heard that gendered politics have had a major impact on the lives affected.

Kate Gallafent, QC for Elan Cane stated that people who are not of the same gender as Elan Cane and people of other races have to submit a false statement to obtain a passport. This’strikes against the foundation of integrity and honesty to be expected from such official processes’.

Elan-Cane had a double mastectomy, followed by a NHS-funded hysterectomy.

Ms Gallafent explained to the justices that it was absurd for a part of the state recognize and assist Elan-Cane’s identity, while others did not.

The Supreme Court heard that the Government's current policy is 'degrading' because it requires non-gendered people to make a false declaration to get a passport

Supreme Court heard from the government that its current policy was ‘degrading’ as it required non-gendered persons to submit a false declaration in order to obtain a passport

Also, she argued that there is a fundamental incoherence in the manner in which sex on passports are changed for binary-transgender individuals in comparison to other legal documents.

Court also learned that the Home Office can accept that someone’s gender identity could be either male or female.

Sir James Eadie, QC for the Home Office, stated that there was an urgent need for an “administratively cohesive system for gender recognition”.

He wrote that it was “clearly problematic” and “highly undesirable” for one government branch, i.e. HMPO is the only Government department that can recognize non-binary identity.

“It might lead to the exact same person being treated as having a differing sex/gender both by HMPO (for the purpose of issuing a Passport) and other government departments (for all other Governmental functions).

Sir James stated that to amend the passport policy, eligibility criteria would need to be met in order to obtain an X passport.

He stated that if there is no such criteria and the access to an “X” passport is not a matter for free choice, it is much less compelling to make such a change.