Skip to main content

Non-gender Specific Documents

Volume 574: debated on Thursday 30 January 2014

2. What assessment she has made of the feasibility of issuing non-gender-specific official documents to people who do not identify as a particular gender. (902274)

Non-gender is not recognised in UK law. The Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination if it arises from their being perceived as either male or female. We recognise that a very small number of people consider themselves to be of neither gender. We are not aware that that results in any specific detriment, and it is not Government policy to identify such people for the purpose of issuing non-gender-specific official documents.

There is a wider point to make. This week, when Hayley Cropper’s funeral takes place on “Coronation Street”, would it not be a good time for the Government to announce that they are taking further steps to reinforce and implement their transgender plan of action, and perhaps to consult on the format of official documents? When can we expect further thought on this matter and a statement?

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman knows that the Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Mrs Grant), and I regularly meet many different groups, including those that represent people of transgender. I gently say to him that, in some circumstances, the Government need to collect gender information to ensure that they target resources correctly and fund public services accurately, for example when estimating pensions. Gender information can also help with identification. That is why we continue to believe that it is necessary to collect that information.

Why will the Minister not follow the lead of Germany and Australia and enable parents to register their child as “x” when they are neither obviously male or female? That would remove the pressure to make a hasty decision on gender immediately after birth.

The hon. Lady will know that there are provisions for parents who face such challenges. Her Majesty’s Passport Office carried out an internal review of gender markings for passports. A copy of the review has been laid in the House so that Members may refer to it. It concluded that there would be no significant advantages to including a non-gender specification. Of course, we will continue to look at the matter. I am sure that my colleagues in the Home Office and other Departments that issue such documentation will have listened carefully to the comments that have been made today.