The government has said it is ‘open’ to the idea of gender-neutral documents and passports, for people who do not identify as male or female.
Currently, the UK only legally recognises and provides documents for people who are male and female.
However, the International Civil Aviation Organisation – which governs passports globally – has recommended the addition of an ‘X’ option for people who do not identify as male or female – and the option is provided by a number of countries including Australia and New Zealand.
In a response to a letter calling for gender-neutral passports, the Government Equalities Office said that it ‘open’ to the idea.
The response on behalf of Women and Equalities Minister says: “[Her Majesty’s Passport Office] recognise that the international governing body for passport standards (the International Civil Aviation Organisation) provides for an ‘X’ to be used in passports and that a small number of countries have adopted that approach. That is a matter of choice for individual countries.
“It is not Government policy to issue documents identifying people as non-gendered, but HMPO continues to monitor this situation and is open to suggestions for change.
“However, such a change would be on the basis that it was required by law, that it provided additional benefits to the applicant, and that the high standards of public and personal safety achieved by the passport were not diluted.”
Noting a review of the issue, it adds: “HMPO recently carried out a review of the use of gender markings in passports.
“The review identified potential difficulties that the absence of a gender marking may cause to individual travellers, such as not being able to guarantee that a person showing an ‘X’ in the sex/gender field of a passport will be accepted for entry or transit by border control authorities of another country, or them experiencing interventions by border and customs officials which may not be considered acceptable on gender grounds.”