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Green light for gender-neutral passports campaigner’s Government challenge

Christie Elan-Cane believes the UK’s passport application process is inappropriate.

A campaigner has been given the go-ahead to bring a High Court challenge against the Government over gender-neutral passports.

Christie Elan-Cane, who has given evidence to Parliament about transgender equality, believes the UK’s passport application process, which requires individuals to indicate whether they are male or female, is inappropriate.

Elan-Cane, who first contacted the UK passport office directly in 1995, sees the issue of “X” (for unspecified) passports as a key focal point of the non-gendered campaign.

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Campaigner Christie Elan-Cane outside the Royal Courts of Justice (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

At a hearing in London on Wednesday, Mr Justice Gilbart granted the campaigner, who was present in court, permission to bring a judicial review.

He announced: “I am satisfied this case passes the test for the grant of permission, and is arguable.”

A full hearing of the challenge will now be held on a date to be fixed.

Last month, Canada became the latest country to offer citizens gender-neutral travel documents. Australia, Denmark, Germany, Malta, New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Nepal already have a third category.

Lawyers for the Home Secretary opposed Elan-Cane’s application.

Granting permission, the judge emphasised that he was only ruling that the case was “arguable”.

In written submissions to the court, Kate Gallafent QC, for Elan-Cane, told the judge: “The claimant’s identity is that of a non-gendered person: someone who does not identify as either male or female.

“The claimant considers that obtaining and using a passport currently involves the claimant making a false declaration as to the nature of the claimant’s gender identity, which causes the claimant considerable distress.”

She said the impact of Her Majesty’s Passport Office’s “refusal to provide for X passports affects not only non-gendered persons such as the claimant but a broad section of the public”.

Those affected included intersex people, who are born with biological characteristics of both sexes and “who often identify as both or neither male or female”, transgendered people and individuals with gender dysphoria.

The QC said: “The size of the potentially affected class is substantial; it has been estimated to be as high as 1% of the population.”

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