Author Archives: Andreas R. Ziegler

UK appeals court rejects gender neutral passports

UK appeals court rejects gender neutral passports

The UK Court of Appeal affirmed a lower court decision Tuesday rejecting gender neutral markers on passports.

Christie Elan-Cane argued for a policy to allow gender neutrality on passports in 2018. Elan-Cane wanted passports to have an “X” category for people who do not identify fully with either male or female. Elan-Cane argued the current binary gender disclosure policy violates Section 22 of the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which protects transgender rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Convention criminalizes any official disclosure relating to a person’s gender history, without the individual’s express consent.

Elan-Cane claimed the policy was an unlawful breach of human rights, but in her judgement, Lady Justice King disagreed. King argued that the case concerned Elan-Cane’s private life, not the public. Though she noted, “the driver for change is the broad notion of respect for gender identity,” she, as well as a few other justices, stated that international public policy will ultimately drive change.

Currently, a few countries offer non-binary gender identity choices on their passports, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Nepal, Pakistan and Uruguay. The UK recognizes these gender neutral passports as valid.

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USA: Federal judge allows transgender discrimination lawsuit against North Carolina officials and universities to proceed

USA: Federal judge allows transgender discrimination lawsuit against North Carolina officials and universities to proceed

A judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina on Wednesday rejected state officials’ and universities’ arguments to dismiss a transgender discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges the North Carolina State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees (NCSHP) discriminates against transgender employees because it excludes coverage for gender dysphoria.

First, Judge Loretta Biggs rejected the defendants’ claim that plaintiffs lack Article III standing to sue. Biggs explained, “Article III traceability is not so rigid,” and that “traceability merely requires a causal connection between the defendant’s conduct and the plaintiff’s injury.”

Second, Biggs decided parent plaintiffs are within the class of people protected under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The parent plaintiffs can continue with the claim along with their children.

Third, Biggs denied the defendants’ sovereign immunity argument against plaintiffs’ Affordable Care Act claim. Biggs stated sovereign immunity does not apply because of the Civil Rights Remedies Equalization Act, which provides:

A state shall not be immune … for a violation of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or the provisions of any other Federal statute prohibiting discrimination by recipients of Federal financial assistance.

Lastly, Biggs denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ Equal Protection claim under the Fourteenth Amendment. Defendants’ argued the health plan exclusion is based on a medical diagnosis, not gender or sex. Biggs explained the health plan’s exclusion denies coverage for gender dysphoria, which is a diagnosis that only results from a dissonance between gender identity and sex assigned at birth. Biggs stated, “the characteristics of sex and gender are directly implicated; it is impossible to refer to the Exclusion without referring to them.”

Biggs’ ruling allows the case, Kadel v. Folwell, to go forward to trial.

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