Non-gendered recognition (UK)

September 11, 2008

Christie Elan-Cane has made a request for support in per fight for legal and social recognition outside the societal gender system in the UK. Per has sent out the following email and per own blog also carries the details:

Dear All

As you are most probably aware, my local parliamentary representative Simon Hughes MP is drafting proposed new legislation that will grant certain rights to individuals who do not identify as male or female and for whom compulsory gendered categorisation into the societal gender system is not appropriate.

The purpose of legislation is to accord legal recognition for identities other than male and female. The outcome of legal recognition of existence outside the gendered societal system will be that we will finally be accorded the basic human right to be acknowledged and registered in our true identity. This will result in greater social recognition and strengthen our position when exposed to discrimination and oppression from the gendered majority.

The proposed legislation will initially state the case for necessity of provision of an alternative option alongside male and female in sex/gender field on forms for application and registration, such as passport application, the Census etc. We are presenting the case for a third option of ‘non gender-specific’, ‘gender not specified’ or ‘other’ on all forms.

In order for the legislation to have any chance of succeeding in early stages of procession through parliament, it is vital that we can demonstrate a strong social need for recognition of identities that have until now been unrecognised by law in all western countries and ignored by gendered society.

*This is where I need the help and support of EVERY resident in the UK who does not identify as male or female and for whom the options of male and female provided by gendered society are irrelevant, inadequate and insulting.*

I am appealing to hear from everyone who is affected by this issue and who is currently forced to deny and/or compromise their identity when presented with the question of stating their sex/gender in order to obtain a passport, driver’s licence or any other documentation or service where a gendered role is demanded before the individual can access a service or obtain necessary documentation in order for the individual to function within society.

I am collecting as many names as possible that will be forwarded to Simon Hughes’ parliamentary office. The details will be used to petition support for this fundamental human rights issue.

Please send an email to my address with *I SUPPORT NON GENDER-SPECIFIC OPTION* in the subject line. Give your full name and preferably a full address in the United Kingdom where you are resident. If you would rather not provide address details, write anyway with just your name but responses with a valid UK address should carry more weight if used to petition support from other ministers.
Please do not send any attachment documents with your email.

*A request to organisations in UK and outside the UK*: please put a notice on your own website to alert as many people as possible. I also request that everyone who feels strongly about this issue lobbies their own local parliamentary representative and urges them to support this action.

Once more, thanks to everyone who has expressed their support so far and I promise to keep you updated with progress. You can also view my website at


(Cross-posted at The F Word on 12 September 2008)


6 Responses to “Non-gendered recognition (UK)”

  1. queen emily Says:

    That’s great, I hope ze manages to succeed. The binary gender of bureaucracy is beyond stupid.

    I await the stampede of “doing away with gender” feminists rushing to support the cause *snicker*

    Incidentally, Christie’s livejournal says ze prefers the pronoun “per” rather than her (I don’t know about the other, I’ve gone with ze given per identification as non-gendered).

  2. Helen G Says:

    Ahh, yes – I see it. That’s entirely my mistake and I apologise unreservedly for any offence or upset my wrong terms may have caused.

    From per blog: I use the title ‘Pr’ which is an abbreviation of Person and pronounced “per”. I also use ‘per’ (pronounced as spelt) as the third person singular pronoun for non gender-specific.

    I’m wondering if per replaces both ze and hir? It’s a new term to me and I’ll try and find clarification. For the time being, I too have opted for per and ze in my amendments to my post; further updates will follow if required.

    Thank you for the heads up.

  3. Helen G Says:

    As ever – when in doubt, ask… Which I did, and have now received a nice reply from Christie which says:

    I use per as preferred pronoun to be used by others when referring to me in third person singular, rather than he/she etc. Pronounced as it is spelt and an abbreviation of person.

    I use Pr (also pronounced per) as a title rather than Mr/Ms etc. I’ve persuaded several organisations where I have a relationship with them to use Pr when addressing me in correspondence.

    Have now further amended my post to remove ze and replace it with per, and again, my apologies for any offence caused by my error.

  4. shiva Says:

    I don’t know about this asking for a third option thing. It strikes me that it could be an opportunity for stigmatization or even persecution (legal or extra-legal) of those who take the third option… a bit like legally enforceable outing…

    I would much rather campaign for the removal of gender categories from all legal documents altogether…

  5. Helen G Says:

    Shiva: I’m not sure how a non-gender specific category of itself would be used for outing a person, particularly if it’s a state-approved option. If one already has to state M or F, then one has already had to (a) choose one or the other and (b) declare it. Christie’s option would remove that necessity of choosing either M or F.

    Christie says that per is presenting the case for a third option of ‘non gender-specific’, ‘gender not specified’ or ‘other’ – and although this does not abolish the gender binary, I agree – it does not set out to do that and at least would move away from it. And if you haven’t stated M or F, indeed haven’t explicitly stated any gender, then it’s hard to see how one could be persecuted for it.

    Also, removing categories from forms would not of itself dismantle the gender binary – I’m not even sure such a thing could achieved solely by changing the UK’s official documentation – but it would be a useful start, and certainly it would be an improvement on the present arrangement.

  6. After all, what purpose does having gender marked on the documents serve?

    Identification? Hardly! It only narrows the possibilities by around half at best, still many millions of people!

    The only practical purpose I can find of gender markers on documentation is discrimination against people who do not conform to gender or gender presentation expectations.

    That seems to be what it does, what it’s there for. It’s only real practical purpose!

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