The U.K. Supreme Court agreed with the government that passports do not need to offer a non-gendered option after hearing an appeal to add an “X” gender option to the legal document.
“There is no legislation in the United Kingdom which recognises a non-gendered category of individuals,” the decision read, adding that “legislation across the statute book assumes that all individuals can be categorised as belonging to one of two sexes or genders (terms which have been used interchangeably).”
Christie Elan-Cane, the appellant in the case, has fought for legal recognition of her “non-gendered” status for more than 25 years, according to Daily Mail. Elan-Cane argued that the requirement to list a gender on passport applications is a violation of human rights, according to BBC News, and said on Twitter that the U.K. is “on the wrong side of history.”
The U.K. Supreme Court held that gender is a “biographical detail” used to confirm a person’s identity across various records, including passports, birth certificates and gender recognition certificates. The court also stated that there was not an “obvious discrepancy” between Elan-Cane’s physical appearance and the “female” status on her passport.
The court’s decision discussed the importance of gender in the law, noting that some crimes, such as female genital mutilation, can only be committed against females. Birth registration, marital laws and gender recognition legislation all assume that a person is either a man or a woman, even if one’s gender does not match their gender recorded at birth, the court pointed out.
“There is a raft of legislation which assumes that only a woman can give birth to, or be the mother of, a child, including legislation relating to maternity rights and benefits, health provision and fertility treatment, and nationality,” the court said.
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