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September 19, 2011

IconGender-neutral passports a possibility

The Home Office is considering the introduction of passports that do not include a gender marker. The proposed change would benefit individuals who do not identify as female or male.

“IPS is considering the gender options available to customers in the British passport. We are exploring with international partners and relevant stakeholders the security implications of gender not being displayed in the passport,” explained a Home Office representative.

“This is at the early discussion stage and no decisions have been taken. Any changes to the UK passport would need to satisfy our rigorous security requirements.”

It is unlikely that any amendment to the relevant regulations would require a change in the law.

Some trans and intersex people identify between, beyond, or without gender(s). Activists argue that gender-neutral documentation will provide official recognition for such individuals.

Gender-neutral documents are increasingly provided within the private sector by companies such as the Royal Bank of Scotland, National Rail and the UK Deed Poll.

Some campaigners argue that gender should not be removed from passports altogether. “Many in the trans community would oppose the removal of gender as its inclusion on passports is vital to ensure safety when travelling abroad,” activist and journalist Jane Fae told Pink News.

“Many non-trans individuals would be happier not declaring gender for all sorts of reasons. It should be optional for all,” she added.

The Australian government announced the introduction of a “third gender” option for passports last week.

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Ruth Pearce

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