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No, Passports Should not Have a Third Gender Option

Summary:
Christie Elan-Cane, a ‘non-gendered activist’, is taking on the Home Office in a case being heard in the Court of Appeal this week. Elan-Cane wants British passports changed so that people are no longer bound by a choice between ‘male’ or ‘female’, but can opt instead for a gender neutral ‘X’ category. The 62-year-old Elan-Cane, who has spent the past 25 years campaigning to achieve legal and social recognition for non-gendered identity, believes the UK’s passport process is ‘inherently discriminatory’. The High Court rejected her case last year, but granted permission to appeal. If she is successful, the handful of people who consider themselves to be neither male nor female will be able to gain an official stamp of approval for

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Christie Elan-Cane, a ‘non-gendered activist’, is taking on the Home Office in a case being heard in the Court of Appeal this week. Elan-Cane wants British passports changed so that people are no longer bound by a choice between ‘male’ or ‘female’, but can opt instead for a gender neutral ‘X’ category. The 62-year-old Elan-Cane, who has spent the past 25 years campaigning to achieve legal and social recognition for non-gendered identity, believes the UK’s passport process is ‘inherently discriminatory’. The High Court rejected her case last year, but granted permission to appeal. If she is successful, the handful of people who consider themselves to be neither male nor female will be able to gain an official stamp of approval for their confusion.

Lots of people get cross about how much passports cost. Many get frustrated with the complicated forms that need to be completed. And anyone who has ever tried to get a toddler to comply with the photo requirements no doubt swore with exasperation. But tears at the need to tick a box indicating sex? Not so much. Yet more than 80 MPs – our delegates in parliament – have signed up to a House of Commons early day motion demanding ‘X passports for people who do not identify with a particular gender’. Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas, Sir Vince Cable and Tory Crispin Blunt are among the signatories.

Layla Moran, Lib Dem spokesperson for education, has tweeted her support for Elan-Cane’s appeal: ‘It is @LibDems policy to include a gender-neutral option on passports. Society recognises non-binary gender and so should our official documents.’ But who comprises this ‘society’? And what gives Layla Moran the right to speak on behalf of all of us? When it comes to attitudes towards gender we have yet another example of the huge gulf between the views of the political class and everyone else. Go to a pub in Middlesbrough, a bus stop in Doncaster or a market stall in Plymouth and you will meet people who know that there are men and women and find the made-up notion of ‘gender neutrality’ to be either baffling or hilarious. Perhaps Moran does not think such people are fit to be included in her definition of society.

As even the Guardian begrudgingly reports, ‘The Home Office has argued that issuing passports with an X marker would have widespread implications and lead to additional costs across the whole of government. It would be a disproportionate burden, it maintains, since only a few people would benefit from the change.’ Indeed. Including a gender-neutral option on passports would not only prompt an expensive administrative change but, far more fundamentally, it would also mean changing the status of an official document that people use as a form of legal identification, at the behest of a handful of activists. It would enshrine in law the idea that biological sex is less relevant than a feeling we have about our identity.

Elan-Cane’s appeal may or may not be successful. But the fact that it has gone so far and has the backing of so many of our senior political figures is significant. We need to ask how a tiny proportion of gender ideologues are able to hold such sway over our institutions.

Writing at the Spectator this week, James Kirkup shines a light on a report called Only Adults? Good Practices in Legal Gender Recognition for Youth. It was produced by Dentons, which is, apparently, ‘the world’s biggest law firm’, along with the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth and Student Organisation. Kirkup explains that the report’s purpose is to help trans activists instigate changes in the law that would ‘allow children to legally change their gender, without adult approval and without needing the approval of any authorities’.

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