Trans people must be allowed gender-neutral passports to stop them facing “distressing questions” that deter them from travelling, campaigners have said.
LGBT rights charity Stonewall said limiting passports to male or female “often presents hurdles for trans people, and can lead to them choosing not to travel at all”.
Stonewall has called for the change as part of its five-year plan to promote equality for trans people, which includes updating The Equality Act and allowing people to change their gender identity without a medical letter.
Brexit has already forced the Government to think about how it will change British passports, which will no longer need to be the EU burgundy.
Australia has allowed people whose gender is indeterminate to list it as X rather than M or F, since 2011.
Stonewall’s call comes days after HSBC introduced 10 new gender-neutral pronouns for its trans customers.
Tara Stone, a member of the charity’s Trans Advisory Group, told The Today Programme the change would give trans people “an option that wasn’t prescriptive”.
She said: “Some trans people find it very validating of their identity to have that gender designator... In terms of getting access to other things in daily life, having a piece of identification that marks out your gender is actually really useful.”
Bex Stinson, head of trans inclusion at Stonewall, said: “Limiting passport gender markers to ‘male’ and ‘female’ often presents hurdles for trans people, and can lead to them choosing not to travel at all.
“If the way a person expresses their gender identity does not ‘match’ the gender in their passport this can lead to distressing questions. This situation would be avoided if ‘X’ markers were available for UK passport holders.”
The Government has committed to reviewing the Gender Recognition Act - which Stonewall is campaigning to change - and to “look at ways of streamlining and de-medicalising the process for changing a person’s legal gender”.
“Alongside this we are investing £3m to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying,” a Government spokesman said. “We are committed to delivering further positive changes for transgender people.”
Lib Dem Equalities Spokeswoman Lorely Burt said: “We don’t need another review to tell us that x passports should be introduced.
“Given the Government is throwing cash down the drain changing the colour of our passports the least they could do is offer some comfort to individuals who don’t want to identify as either male or female and introduce ‘x’ passports.
“As always this Government seem to have their priorities all wrong.”