Here’s Why UK Supreme Court Has Blocked Gender-Neutral Passports

Gender-Neutral Passport
Yesterday, the UK Supreme court blocked the gender-neutral passport plea that was filed by Christie Elan-Cane.

Christie Elan-Cane, who has reportedly been working on this issue for twenty-five years and has lost multiple cases in lower courts as well has not lost his spirit. They wrote on Twitter “This is not the end,”. The campaigner will be taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

What is the case about? 

In July, Kate Gallafent QC, legal representative of  Christie Elan-Cane who identifies as non-binary, had filed a case in the court stating that non-gendered and non-binary people need to make false declarations to get a passport.

Elan-Cane has filed this case to get a passport with an ‘X’ instead of an ‘M’ or ‘F’ s on the basis of a violation of the right to privacy.

Suggested Reading: Madras HC Delivers Landmark Judgment On Multi-Level LGBTQIA+ Sensitisation


What were the arguments made by Christie Elan-Cane?

Christie Elan-Cane argued in the court that this “strikes at the foundation of the standards of honesty and integrity to be expected of such official processes” and also that Britain’s passport application process is “inherently discriminatory”.

Elan-Cane believes that “It’s wrong that if someone is neither male nor female that we are forced to have an inappropriate gender… on our documentation. It’s demeaning, it’s dehumanising, it’s insulting.” and that there is no justice in the UK.

What did the court rule? 

The five-judge bench in the Britain Supreme Court rejected all the contentions made by Christie Elan-Cane against the government policy for not allowing gender-neutral passports. The appeal was dismissed unanimously by the Supreme Court.

The court said that a person’s identity need not be confirmed just through the passport but other forms and official documents could be used in order to check the identity of the concerned person. These official documents that included birth, adoption or gender recognition certificates could be used by the person to confirm identity.

“It is, therefore, the gender recognised for legal purposes and recorded in those documents which are relevant,” said,  Judge Robert Reed.

He went ahead and explained that having an “X” passport could not outweigh the other considerations such as “maintaining a coherent approach across government” because the UK does not have any legislation that recognises the non-gendered category of people.

He said that the legislation “across the statute book” assumes all people can be categorised in two sexes or genders – “terms which have been used interchangeably”.

The Supreme court said, “Perhaps most importantly, there is not the obvious discrepancy between the appellant’s physical appearance and the ‘F’ marker in the appellant’s passport,”

Other countries like Denmark, Germany, Pakistan, Australia, Nepal and Cannada all have issued passports with option other than male and female.