Working towards non gender-specific legal and social recognition in the UK

October 2, 2008

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Christie Elan-Cane’s request for support in per fight for legal and social recognition outside the societal gender system in the UK.

Christie’s now emailed me an update of per progress which I’d like to post here in its entirety:

Working towards non gender-specific legal and social recognition in the UK

I want to thank everybody for an amazing response to my recent online appeal – with special thanks extended to those who took the trouble to share their own stories.

This campaign is just approaching the end of the very beginning, a Presentation Bill to be drafted by Simon Hughes MP is only the start of a massive effort that could take years to achieve very much at all. There are many hurdles to negotiate and I have been advised there is little chance that proposed legislation effectively granting legal and social recognition to identities outside the societal gender system will get through all those hurdles and become an Act of Parliament at the first attempt. The United Kingdom has traditionally lagged behind most other European member states when it comes to fundamental issues of human rights for minority interests. Similar legislation has not yet been passed in any other European country or, indeed, any other Western state.

What I want to see is an amendment to a gendered legislative and social framework that can exclude and relegate a fellow human being down to the status of non-person on the flawed basis that all members of society should be categorised into either one of two socially permitted gendered roles.

What we can expect from this initiative is that the issue will be placed into political and public consciousness from where work can continue towards achieving the ultimate goal:

Legal and Social Recognition for identities other than male and female, with accordance to equality of treatment under the law, equal access to services as taken for granted by the gendered majority and respect for our fundamental rights as human beings to be able to live openly, without compromise and without fear.

It is unacceptable that socially invisible human beings are living alongside the gendered majority in a so-called democratic society where we must routinely deny our identity and be forced to accept inappropriate gendered categorisation in order to function within a gendered societal structure that for too long has ignored and invalidated the existence of those with core identities other than male and female. In so doing, we become unwilling collaborators in our own invisibility in order to survive within a gendered society that denies us an identity.

It is unacceptable that individuals who do not identify as male or female should suffer routine discrimination from the gendered majority in every area of life with no legally enforceable redress as gendered society fails to recognise the validity of our existence or extend to us the fundamental right not to be discriminated against.

It is unacceptable that an individual who cannot conform into a gendered societal structure assumes the social status of non person, subject to social exclusion and inherent disadvantage in all areas of life, without the same fundamental human right to receive fair and equal treatment as enjoyed by the gendered majority.

It is unacceptable when, at a moment in time that social diversity is purported to be on all the main political parties’ policy agenda, a socially invisible group of people still suffer the indignity of being perceived as ‘freaks’ and undesirables by the socially advantaged gendered majority.

Furthermore, if the current Labour administration have their way, everybody resident within the United Kingdom will eventually have to apply for an ID card. The ID card scheme is highly objectionable on grounds of personal privacy violation and unwarranted state intrusion, but the scheme presents another disturbing threat to anybody who does not identify as male or female and justifiably refuses to carry a card where the data required for the application and issuing process has same criteria as used for a passport application (ie. the gendered role as stated on the birth certificate).

Refusal to carry an inappropriately gender categorised ID card would make a criminal of anyone who is stopped by the police and ordered to produce their card. I hope this intrusive, unpopular and expensive scheme never comes to fruition and it appears there is still a reasonable chance the whole sorry process will fail to be implemented but, nevertheless, the prospect of being criminalized by the state for refusing to deny my non-gendered core identity on an application form is a frightening thought.

It is unacceptable that we could be living under the threat of being turned into criminals when we have committed no crime.

Later this year, I intend to rework and expand my (currently small) mailing list and your name and email address will be added to the new list. If you would prefer I used a different email address to the one already on file, or you would rather not receive any further communication, please let me know by reply and I will amend or delete the record in accordance to your wishes. Your email details will not be disclosed to any other parties.

My website will be updated periodically in the meantime.

Once more, thank you so much for your support

The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered.


Christie Elan-Cane

Let me repeat just this one line, for emphasis, if you like:

The denial of existence is the worst act of discrimination by the gendered majority against the non-gendered.

Think on, people, think on…


An edited version of this piece was cross-posted at The F-Word on 08 October 2008

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