ID Cards update

November 24, 2008

ID card (front) smallThe Home Office’s Identity & Passport Service (IPS) which is charged with implementing the National Identity Scheme (the introduction of national ID cards for all UK residents over the age of 16) has announced the second round of legislation for the ID card scheme. Amongst other things, the announcement gives details of the price of the card and potential fines for non-compliance.

From the IPS press release:

The first identity cards will be issued to non-EEA foreign nationals from 25 November, with 40,000 expected to be in circulation by April 2009.

In autumn 2009 the first cards for critical workers, starting at airports, will be issued.

From 2010 young people will be offered the chance to sign up for cards to help them as they start out their adult lives. And from 2012 the National Identity Scheme will begin to roll-out for the general population with identity cards available in significant numbers.

As you can see from that short extract, the official government website is not entirely helpful in explaining the implications in an easy-to-follow way. Thankfully, the IT Pro website isn’t so reticent and their reporter Nicole Kobie has published this page, which is a mine of useful information.

The article is well worth reading for its coverage of the main issues – and it touches on the security and privacy aspects too (as does the IPS site’s FAQ section), which seem to be the main concerns of a lot of people.


I also noticed – via the Daily Mail, of all places – this rather troublesome aspect which seems likely to affect trans people who wish to change their documents as part of their transition:

People who are undergoing a sex change will be allowed two cards – one in each gender. But they will also be forced to pay twice – landing them with a £60 bill.

It has decided they will have to hold a card in their current sex, which can be used for travel in the EU.

But they will also be able to apply for a card – with corresponding picture – in the name and sex they are undergoing treatment to become.

In other words, they will dress and appear as they will once the sex change is complete.

Assuming that the Daily Mail is factually correct in its report (I can’t find the source of its quote in the consultation document [ETA: is in clauses 2.33 and 2.34, see ETA #2 at the foot of this post]), then I must say I’m pretty outraged by this proposal by the IPS.

It seems that if you’ve not had surgery, you will only be allowed to travel in the EU using an ID card containing your ‘old’ details. Doesn’t matter if you’re living entirely in your ‘new’ role, you’ll have to pretend to be someone you used to be. Sure, you can have a card that gives the ‘new’ details – but you won’t actually be able to use it for travelling. (And what about travelling outside the EU?)

This is, quite frankly, outrageous. Like we don’t face enough prejudice and bigotry in our everyday lives as it is? No, apparently not – so the state has decided to continue its institutionalised marginalisation of us. Let’s just chuck in some cissexist treatment of trans people by the state, shall we? Just in case we still hadn’t got it; that we’re not even second class citizens. Hardly even human, really.

And what of the equally obvious, and equally wrong, subtext that someone needing documents which provide for two identities means that one of those identities can’t possibly be “real”? Would you like some trans misogyny with that cissexism, sir – or is it madam?

Just to add insult to injury, there’s the classist assumption that a trans person in transition is wealthy enough to afford a double fee. You could buy three months’ supply of estrogen tablets for that duplicate £30 you’ve just paid.

But never mind, eh? – now you’ve got your two ID cards, how about a new passport to go with them? You know, since it’s the same department and we need to make sure we keep our records in order? Sure, no problem, Sir, Madam, Thing, whatever you’re called – that’ll be another £72, please.

When I got my new passport a couple of years ago – so I could travel to Thailand for my surgery – I also needed to provide a letter from my gender doc to confirm that yes, Helen really is Helen and won’t be changing back. Because, obviously, as a sub-human I couldn’t be trusted to tell the truth. That wasn’t free, either.

But you needn’t think you’ll just do nothing and avoid the issue, either: if you refuse to update the ID database of any change in circumstance then there’ll be a fine to pay – starting at £125 and rising to a maximum of £1,000.

And what if you’re not planning on medically/surgically transitioning but are still transitioning legally/socially? There are people in that position, y’know? Real people, with real lives.

There’s also the question of those who live in stealth: there may be some damn good reasons why you might not actually want to have two ID cards – for example, you’d like to keep your job, or your house or something minor like that. How’s all that going to be handled?

And where does the GRC fit into all this? The Equality Bill? Has any of this actually been considered?

But how silly of me to think that any of this matters as long as the state can label us as they see fit – and charge us money for the privilege. Once again, cis people’s theories are more important than trans people’s very real, lived experiences.

However, there is possibly one tiny ray of light in this murky darkness that is the labyrinth of the proposed ID card system: the IPS is consulting on the proposals for the next 12 weeks. The consultation document (in PDF format) is available here, and you can contact them directly by using this online form.

ETA: Also – if the card in your ‘new’ ID is not accepted for travel – then where is it accepted? Is it good for proof of ID at – let’s say – the bank? Or does the one in your ‘old’ name still take precedence? If so, then why even bother with a card in your ‘new’ ID?

And – after your surgery (did I mention the other issue I have there, aside from the classism, about objectification of trans bodies?) – after your surgery, then what? Presumably you have to return both cards for a single, unified replacement. On receipt of a further fee, no doubt.


ETA #2: So I finally figured out how to search the consultative document (it’s a 97 page PDF) and found chapter and verse. It’s either on page 14 or page 16, depending on whether you’re looking at the page count on the PDF viewer (p14) or the document itself (p16):

Applications from those living a Dual Gendered Life

2.33 The representation of identity is a particularly complex and difficult issue for those who are moving from living in their birth gender to an acquired gender. In particular, those who are seeking to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate need to be able to demonstrate that they are taking steps to live in their acquired gender as part of that process. The Identity and Passport Service has engaged with a number of groups representing the transgender community before and after the passage of the Identity Cards Act. This has been helpful in understanding how we can best meet that community’s needs whilst ensuring the integrity of the National Identity Register

2.34 Regulations 6,7,9,11,12 and 13 provide that those who are living a dual gendered life will, if they so choose, be able to apply for two identity cards relating to their unique entry in the National Identity Register. They can hold a National Identity Card which can be used for travel in one gender as well as an Identification Card which is not valid for travel but can be used to prove their identity in a second gender reliably and securely and reflects a different name, signature and photograph. This will be dependent on the provision of a recognised report from a registered medical practitioner or chartered psychologist confirming that the individual experiences gender dysphoria.

So, not just the additional £30, but also the cost of “a recognised report from a registered medical practitioner or chartered psychologist confirming that the individual experiences gender dysphoria”. And, as far as I can see from that, my questions above still stand.

Guess I’ll just have to wait and see what kind of a response I get from the IPS.

*watches tumbleweed blowing past*

3 Responses to “ID Cards update”

  1. HelenGB Says:

    I never thought I’d ever say this, but at least at the next General election both opposition parties say (yea, I know) they will scrap the ID card scheme.

    I’m in a safe tory seat, so I won’t actually have to go and vote against them, but I can’t believe I’m hoping for Labour’s defeat.

  2. Alison Says:

    I believe this is even more serious than you highlight here. FOr those with a GRC when they have to get their first ID card, it is not likely to be such a problem as for those who do not have a GRC.
    The Governement are promising to respect the GRA, but they still require birth gender and acquired gender to be recorded.
    What about those of us who are married and want to stay with so? It seems that we will be forced to carry and travel on an ID Card in our birth gender.
    And it does seem that the only way for us to avoid the land of ‘Big Brother’ is to vote Labour out of office.
    But there is also one other option – concerted effort to persuade the government it is wrong and also concerted effort to improve the regulations for “dual gendered” people.

  3. Oliver FP Says:

    I’m worried about what the National Identity Scheme will do to me as a trans person… I’m in the same situation as Alison above (I’m married to another guy – look, this headache is what happens when “marriage” and “civil partnership” are entirely separate categories that rely on one’s genitals).

    But I’m not sure that I’m not even more preoccupied by the principle of the thing. It’s just… wrong. It will be no use, it will cost the taxpayer a great deal that could be better spent elsewhere, and I think people should be treated like reasonable citizens until they prove otherwise, not like criminals from the beginning.

    Well, we’ll become criminals once we fail to tell the ID authorities about any changes in our details – £1000 fines, if you please.

    Notice how I managed to type all that with no rude words. The scheme is in the running for Nu-Labour’s Worst Idea Evar…

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