After a bit of a natter with a couple of Twitter friends, it came to my attention that though the official US petition has done really well (16,271 signatures in 11 days, and 7,494 notes on my blog post alone) we’ve got no UK equivalent on the UK petition website. Christie Elan-Cane’s well-written and permanent petition on GoPetition has 981 signatures and it’s been going for over a year. At first I thought it was down to a difference in population, until I worked out that the US only has about 5 times the population of the UK. I triple-checked it and still couldn’t believe it, so correct me if I’m wrong there.
So I hatched a plan to write a UK nonbinary legal recognition blurb and post it on the UK government petition website. It won’t have the detail of Christie’s, and it’ll close on a set date, but if we can get it onto the front page of the petition site as a trending petition it might raise awareness and get the attention of more MPs. Meeting with your MP to discuss the issues or writing lots of letters/emails will of course be more effective, but I can’t do that because autism/trauma recovery/lack of support, so I’m doing what I can.
Borrowing a few snappy phrases and ideas from the US petition, and highlighting what I think are some key issues, what d’you reckon?
Legally recognise nonbinary genders
UK legal documents currently only allow either an M or an F, forcing those of us outside of the gender binary to have passports and birth certificates that are incorrect.
Our passport systems accept non-British passports with the sex marker “X” at Border Control, but HM Passport Office’s arguments against adding it as an option for British passport holders in their 2013 report are flimsy and easily dismantled.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that failure of a state to alter the birth certificate of a person to the preferred gender constitutes a violation of Article 8 of the Convention. Member states are thus required to legally recognise the change in gender role of an individual. Binary transgender people in the UK can apply for a gender recognition certificate (GRC) to change their birth certificates and passports to reflect their gender roles, but nonbinary people have no access to a GRC. This is discrimination.
Acceptance and recognition of genders and sexes other than male and female would bring us into line with countries including Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Malta and Argentina. None of these countries have reported any problems with sex markers other than M or F on passports.
The standard gender-inclusive title Mx (pronounced “mux” or “mix”) is being seen more and more alongside the gendered equivalents of Mr and Miss/Ms/Mrs. In the 2001 census approximately 14,000 people intentionally ticked both male and female as their answer to the sex question, and a further ~185,000 people failed to tick either box. We exist.
Many of us have been living outside of the gender binary for a very long time. We deserve the recognition and protection from which people with binary genders benefit.
What do you think? Have I got anything wrong? Any factual errors, spelling or grammar issues, basic issues omitted, unnecessary issues/words that could be taken out, changes to make it more readable and signable, etc? I welcome submissions of amended drafts. I’ll give it 48 hours, and then I’ll put it up on the UK government petition website unless someone persuades me that it’s a bad idea or there’s some detail that needs hashing out.
And for the curious, here’s some linky things:
- About Mx, and evidence of its increasing use.
- European Court of Human Rights on recognition of gender.
- Practical Androgyny on the 2001 UK census.
- HM Passport Office’s crappy report from 2013 on nonbinary identities on passports, and…
- Zoe O’Connell’s analysis of that report.
Edit: Here’s a place to discuss it all more coherently: nonbinary.org forum topic