Gender Recognition

Home Department written question – answered on 25th February 2014.

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Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley NATO Parliamentary Assembly UK Delegation, NATO Parliamentary Assembly (President)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department

(1) what progress her Department has made on implementing the commitments contained in the Government’s action plan for transgender equality to review how gender identification is represented in passport application forms and passports; and if she will make a statement;

(2) when her Department ceased to record on passports the holder's (a) profession, (b) place of birth, (c) date of birth, (d) country of residence, (e) height, (f) eye colour, (g) hair colour, (h) special peculiarities and (i) distinguishing features; for what reasons the Government decided to cease recording each of the characteristics on passports; what rules it currently applies to people of indeterminate sex and people who do not identify as either gender in relation to how they describe their gender on passports; what consideration she has given on the need to record a person's sex on passports; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration)

A copy of Her Majesty's Passport Office review into gender markings in the British passport has been placed in the Library of both Houses.

The review was carried out in response to the recommendation in the Government's action plan for transgender equality published on 8 December 2011.

The information set out in the biographic page of the British passport conforms to standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The British passport biographical page lists name, nationality, date of birth, gender, place of birth, photograph, and signature of the holder in addition to place and date of issue of the passport.

Previous information contained in the British passport has been removed in the light of technological advances in the quality of photographs or because the information was no longer considered relevant to the person's ability to apply for and use the passport. Changes have been made from time to time and the need for information to be gathered is subject to regular review. Her Majesty's Passport Office collects only information considered relevant to ensure the safe and secure issue of the British passport and to protect the identity of the individual and ensure their safe passage through international borders.

As the review above indicates, gender is considered an important identifier.

It is used to assist the application process and, at frontiers, provides border agencies with direction on the handling of the passport holder. We recognise that a very small number of countries have adopted the use of an 'X' in the passport but UK law does not recognise a third gender classification.

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