Posts Tagged Passports
I’m currently at conference, so I have limited internet to do some research on this and it’s come as a complete surprise. I’m pleased to hear that the Home Office is planning to consult on passport gender markers. (Warning: Daily Mail link, but it surprisingly includes some good content.) There’s also this article from the Telegraph, if you’re allergic to Daily Mail content.
I have not seen anything official yet, but the summary seems to be that it’s a “wide ranging” consultation, not just gender markers and the options being considered are allowing “X” for Unspecified as a marker, or just scrapping markers for everyone and using X across the board. (You have to have a gender field on a passport, it’s in the international standard)
I would be stunned if the latter option passed but it’s good that it is being considered. Of course, there is also the chance to allow people to put the point that a doctors letter should not be required for a gender marker change on a passport and one should just be able to do it.
There is quite a bit of misreporting over the situation with “X”/Unspecified markers on Australian passports that has recently been announced. To clear up the situation, there’s a very good post here, on Global Comment. The short version is that there are two options:
Transgender people can now get a gender-appropriate (“M”/”F”) marker without having gone through surgery, as was previously the case. Hormones still seem to be required which still isn’t perfect but it’s very good news for Australians and removes “genital essentialism” – the erroneous link between genitals and gender.
Intersex folk can get an “X”/Unspecified marker with a doctors letter. (I’ve not seen any confirmation that this is truly optional and might not be forced on people – an “X” marker could get you in a lot of trouble in some countries)
And to clear up the confusion:
Transgender folk CAN NOT get an “X” marker. You must be Intersex to get that. (And no, going all Harry-Benjamin-Syndrome on your GP and claiming that being Trans is an Intersex issue isn’t likely to work here)
As for the UK situation, there are no current plans to introduce an “X” marker for anyone, and no “X” passports have ever been issued. Apparently there have been previous discussions with the Trans community and the community “didn’t see a need for it”, but that appears to have been some time ago and likely before the non-gender-binary community was quite so prominent in terms of campaigning.
What we’ve pushed for recently is for government organisations in general to have to justify use of storing and using gender at all as part of their Equality Impact Assessments. It has come up in discussion with the Government Equalities Office and may be in the Trans Action Plan when they publish it. This isn’t just a transgender issue but can also be a wider feminism issue, if you look at the position of organisations like the DVLA who can’t see why printing “Mrs” or “Miss” on a driving licence is an issue, when they don’t print titles for blokes at all by default. (“Ms” is available only as a write-in option)
And the second of my two FoI requests has also come back, this time from the IPS. Highlights – they don’t use the X unspecified gender marker and never have done and have consulted with the Trans community on this. I don’t know when that was, however – they say “recently” but that could be 10 years ago. They also confirmed only one pair of ID cards were ever issued under the transgender provisions. Text is below minus the usual stuff, I’ve also trimmed my questions down to make it more readable (Yuo can see the full list on my earlier post) but the responses are in full. Their reference for this request was FOICR 15540/10.
These questions relate to ICAO Doc 9303, Part I, Volume I.1 Can you confirm:
1. Does the Identity & Passport Service follow Doc 9303 (Or a standard that refers to it, such as ISO/IEC 7501-1:2008) for passports.
I can confirm that UK passports do meet the specifications for passports set out in
2. Section IV permits use of “X” to mean unspecified as a sex on Machine Readable Passports(MRP) within the Visual Inspection Zone (Page IV-11, field 11) and similarly “<” within the Machine Readable Zone. (Page IV-16, line 2, character position 21). Has the IPS ever issued an MRP with X/< specified as
sex… (Remainder of question 2 and questions 3 and 4 omitted)
ICAO standards do not mandate that the use of “X” as a gender identifier must be made available by passport issuing authorities. Currently, IPS does not use this identifier and has never done so in the past. The passport issuing system is not currently designed to include “X” as a gender identifier. Thus, no passports have been issued with the “X” gender identifier. This policy was recently reviewed and transgender community groups such as Press for Change were involved in consultation on this topic. However, as with all passport policy, we are happy to obtain feedback from members of the public which will be used to input to any future policy reviews.
1. During discussion on the Identity Documents Bill, Lynne Featherstone, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, implied that only one individual had has two identity cards issued under the provisions of The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Application and Issue of ID Card and Notification of Changes) Regulations 2009, section 7(2)(b). Can you confirm this figure is correct?
I can confirm that under the provisions of The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Application and Issue of ID Card and Notification of Changes) Regulations 2009, section 7(2)(b) only one set of ID cards have been issued under the Transgendered scheme.
Based on recent discussions, I put together a couple of FoI requests to the DVLA and Identity & Passport Service – the results should be interesting. I had initially thought that the presence of a title on a driving licence was based on when you received it, but a little research reveals that unless you have an honorific title like Dr. or Rev, it’s just women that get a title! That’s not very 21st Century but it’s been ongoing for at least 30 years, so I’d hope the policy is simply historical and one that’s never been reviewed. If not, that’s also a feminist issue, particularly given all the standard D1 forms I’ve seen have just “Miss” or “Mrs” on them – not “Ms”! (Although one person apparently has “Ms” on theirs, so I guess you can put it in the “other” box.
Hat-tip to Christine Burns, it was her comments on Lynne Featherstones blog that alerted me to the possibility of unspecified gender on passports.