A British activist lost a legal challenge to the government’s policy of not granting gender-neutral passports at the UK’s highest court on Wednesday.
The issue was brought to the Supreme Court by Christie Elan-Cane, who argued that the necessity for passport applicants to identify whether they are male or female violates human rights laws.
Elan-Cane, who has spent years advocating for the legal and social recognition of non-binary people in the UK, believes there should be a “X” option for candidates who are neither strictly female nor strictly male.
The gender of passport applicants is “a biographical detail which can be used to confirm their identity by checking it against the birth, adoption or gender recognition certificates provided and other official records,” according to a panel of judges who unanimously dismissed the appeal.
It is therefore the gender recognized for legal purposes and recorded in those documents which is relevant, Supreme Court President Robert Reed said.
According to Reed, no law in the United Kingdom recognizes a non-gendered category, and allowing the passport modification would leave the government without a consistent solution to the problem.
In recognition of the rights of gender non-conforming citizens, certain countries, such as the United States, Canada, and Denmark, issue or plan to issue passports with non-binary gender markers.
The United Kingdom was “on the wrong side of history,” according to Elan-Cane, and the matter will be taken to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.