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Discrimination lawyer welcomes permission for judicial review of government's policy on gender markers on passports

A solicitor who specialises in discrimination law has welcomed the news that the High Court has granted permission for a judicial review hearing relating to the government’s policy on declaring gender on passports.


13 October 2017

A case brought by Christie Elan-Cane is challenging the government’s policy of requiring an applicant for a passport to declare their gender as being either male or female and only allowing passports to be issued identifying the bearer as either male or female. 

Many people experience a gender identity within the binary model of gender as defined in terms of men and women.  Some people, however, experience a non-binary gender identity.  They may experience their gender identity as being on a spectrum between the categories of man and woman, or as a mix of both genders.  Others may identify as being non-gendered people.  

Official documents that require people to choose between the binary options of ‘male’ and ‘female’ may cause difficulty for non-binary and non-gendered people, as well as for some intersex people who do not wish to have to identify themselves as either male or female. 
Several countries around the world, including Australia, Canada, and Malta, allow people to choose ‘X’ as a third option for indicating their gender on their passport instead of having their choice limited to either ‘male’ or ‘female’.  

The outcome of Christie Elan-Cane’s judicial review case is likely to be of interest to many people in the UK who do not wish to identify their gender on official documents as either male or female.
Alice Ramsay, a solicitor from the employment and discrimination team at Leigh Day, has extensive experience of acting in cases involving gender identity discrimination and has represented and advised many people who have experienced such discrimination in employment, education, and in the context of accessing services.  

Ms Ramsay said:

“It is great to hear that a substantive judicial review hearing has been granted by the High Court in this case. 

“I am sure that many people across the country will be eagerly awaiting the outcome of this case in the hope that the government will have to change its current policy on gender markers on passports, which only allows people to identify themselves within an outdated binary model of gender.

“I wish Christie Elan-Cane every success in the case.”

If you feel that you have experienced gender identity discrimination and you wish to know whether the employment and discrimination team at Leigh Day would be able to assist you, please contact us at 020 7650 1200 or at postbox@leighday.co.uk.

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