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Christie Elan-Cane

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Christie Elan-Cane NON-GENDERED - Fighting for Legal Recognition May 2011 13 53 (PDT)09:40

Christie Elan-Cane NON-GENDERED - Fighting for Legal Recognition May 2011 13 53 (PDT)

Christie Elan-Cane is a non-gendered activist based in the UK, "fighting for legal and social recognition outside the societal gender system" [1].

Background

"I have rejected the gendered role (mis)appropriated to me on my birth certificate although the gendered role remains on my birth certificate and is a factor on other items of personal identification as though it were fact. I do not feel a sense of identification with the other socially permissible gendered role that is strong or certain enough to make me want to transfer and become identified within that role... I use the title ‘Pr’ which is an abbreviation of Person and pronounced “per”. I also use ‘per’ (pronounced as spelt) as the third person singular pronoun for non gender-specific" - from Christies Livejournal profile [2]

"I really wish that people would not refer of my non-gendered identity as my ”gender identity”. I am non-gendered. I have a core identity that is as real and valid as the core identity of any gendered person but it is not a gender identity. It is an identity." [3]

Excerpt from 'Im Just A Sweet Transgenderist', The Independant 27th March 1995 [4];

"...Christie Elan-Cane, 36, appears somewhere further along the gender continuum than Zoltar, with a shaved head, flat chest and khaki shirt. Now based in London, he grew up convinced he occupied the wrong body, but also believed he wasn't a man. Standing naked before a mirror was a torturous reminder of Christie's problem, and he dieted continuously, hoping his hated breasts would disappear. At 26, Christie began looking for a surgeon who would perform a double mastectomy. The first recoiled with horror, and even when Christie found the right surgeon, it took more than a year to raise the funds to pay for the operation. During that period, Christie began to wonder "if I was going against nature", and at his lowest moments he contemplated "getting a chisel and doing something about it myself". Finally, Christie went under the knife. "The anaesthetist asked whether I wanted to go through with it and I said `yes', because I knew if I didn't, I'd regret it for the rest of my life. The next thing I remember is waking up again. I could feel through the bandages that my chest was flat and it was the happiest moment of my life." The second stage of Christie's operation was a hysterectomy. "I now feel happy with my body and myself - I don't have the same confusion or distress."

In 2000 Christie spoke at the Sixth International Gender dysphoria Conference in Manchester, England (GENDYS 2K), reading from per work entitled 'The Fallacy of the Myth of Gender' [5]. Christie began documenting per activism via per livejournal account in 2008. Initial campaign issues focused on the then upcoming 2011 UK census, the introduction of a Parliamentary Bill to recognise non-gendered identity, and changing the requirement of patients to state either a male or female gender by the automated patient check-in facility at Christies local health care centre [6]. Making further use of online networking opportunities to publicise per activism, Christie created a Youtube account in 2011 [7].

Campaign Issues

Below is a list of several campaign issues Christie has/is focused on, though more is covered in per LiveJournal.

Automated patient check-in facility at healthcare centre(s)

In March 2007 Christie became aware of the requirement to state a male or female gender when using the automated checking-in facility for an appointment at per local healthcare centre. Christie writes, "I made a complaint initially to the GP and, on his advice, wrote to the practice manager. The practice manager suggested I approach the contractor who provided the facility and were responsible for software design. I began a series of correspondence with this company but it was very apparent from their arrogant responses that I was wasting my time dealing directly with them. I complained to the local NHS healthcare authority, Southwark Primary Care Trust (Equalities and Diversity section). Not much response initially with no obvious sign my complaint was being treated seriously. I wrote a formal complaint to Southwark PCT in January 2008 and received a letter in response from the Chief Executive of the Trust. The letter informed that my complaint had resulted in a policy change and that an entire network of patient facilities was to be upgraded later in the year, starting with facility at my local healthcare practice. This was a major victory but it has taken the IT contractor until now to get around to rolling out the upgrade".

Christie wrote an entry in 2010 stating that the 2009 software upgrade had been replaced by the original software, "It took just a couple of emails to the practice and Southwark PCT to discover that it was once again the software company who were responsible for the problem. Following a system failure earlier this year, the company had to replace the hardware and they supplied the practice with a new system without the upgrade pre-installed. This has now been rectified following my complaint. So, I wonder, do I have to go through the same procedure every time this company screws up?" [8].

UK Census 2011

In 2008 Christie reported in per livejournal that the Office of National Statistics (ONS) had finally refused per an interview after 18 months of consideration. The ONS met instead with Simon Hughes MP regarding Christies query concerning the addition of ‘non gender-specific’ third option for sex/gender field on the UK 2011 Census forms. Christie writes of the ONS response, "ONS have no plans to voluntarily introduce a non gender-specific box in the sex/gender field. One of the given ‘reasons’ being that, under The Census Act (1920), there is no legal requirement to gather information regarding sex/gendered role. The question is included on the census form (with M/F boxes provided) because end users have requested breakdown of male and female respondents for purpose of demographic information gathering. The other reason ONS would not consider inclusion of non gender-specific option is because (and I’m not making it up) some gendered respondents would be unable to resist the temptation to tick this option when it does not apply to them, thus distorting the overall quality of gathered data!".

Christies LiveJournal entry following completion of the Census form in 2011 includes the following, "It will be no surprise to anyone who follows my work that I crossed through both gendered boxes with a thick black line when I got to the inappropriate, offensive and unanswerable question, and then diagonally crossed through the whole section in both directions. That should hopefully screw any machine reading capability and reduce risk of my being misappropriated a gendered role by the system. I wrote ‘NON-GENDERED’ prominently above the section and asterisked to a statement I had written at the head of the page that the question is inappropriate and offensive." [9].

Parliamentary Bill to recognise non-gendered identity

"A groundbreaking opportunity exists right now for new legislation to be brought before parliament in the United Kingdom. The legislation would grant the right of recognition to the invisible and disenfranchised minority of human beings who cannot identify within the societal gender system... At present, it is not possible to acquire personal identification documentation (passport, driver licence, national insurance number etc.) or access many essential services (car insurance, private healthcare insurance etc.) without stating whether one is male or female" [10].

In September 2008 Christie requested via per livejournal for all readers to email per if they were supportive of a non-gender specific option for personal identification documentation, Christie would then forward these emails to the office of Simon Hughes MP who had agreed to present the case on per behalf; having approached him in 2005. In March 2010 Christie announced that per had the support of Baroness Sarah Ludford, Liberal Democrat MEP for London, in this issue. The Baroness presented the issue to the European Commission with the following, "In a paper on human rights and gender identity in July 2009, the former Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg noted that EU directives which implement the principle of equal treatment between men and women have a defined emuneration of discrimination grounds, and these do not include gender identity. Also, a report from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) noted that there is no reason not to extend the protection from discrimination under EU law to people who wish to present their gender differently to that registered at birth. In view of these opinions of human rights experts, does the Commission consider that EU legislation sufficiently protects citizens who choose to identify as non-gendered or present their gender differently to that registered at birth? Does it have any plans to revise EU Directives in future in a more gender neutral way?".

Gender Neutral Passports

In August 2010 Christie requested via per livejournal for all readers to contact The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) to request use of 'X' as an alternative option on passports to the gendered options of 'M' or 'F' for the 'Sex' requirement [11]. Christie writes, "I have made two previous approaches to the IPS (in their former capacity as the United Kingdom Passport Service) and presented the case for a third non gender-specific option under the sex/gender field on the UK passport application form. The first approach was in 1995. It was a rather timid approach and I did not get very far. From a perspective that failure was inevitable, I felt I had to try. With my old passport about to expire and a renewal application form in front of me, I contacted UKPS HQ by telephone... The passport, I was told, HAD to indicate whether the holder is male or female for security reasons... A second approach to UKPS was made in 2005 and it was a formal letter to the head of UKPS from my local parliamentary representative Simon Hughes MP asking a series of questions on my behalf. By that time I was actively campaigning for the right to register my identity without inappropriate gendered references and had engaged the support of my MP. But the outcome was still predictably negative".

Christies third contact with IPS in 2010 was met with a more positive response, including the statement that they "...recognise that not everyone identifies themselves as a male or female as set out on the form". The IPS are currently reviewing the way gender identification is represented in passport application forms and passports as a result of the governments 'Advancing transgender equality: A plan for action' (see below); the review began in January 2012 for completion in February 2013. In July 2012 Christie submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requesting the IPS release the relevant documentation containing the details of the policy review to date, the request was rejected under section 35 (1)(a) that concerns the formulation or development of government policy. "The response concluded that disclosure of information about the policy review at this stage does not serve the public interest" [12].

Government Action Plan on Transgender Equality

In September 2010 Christie alerted readers of per blog to a request from the UK government to consult with the transgender demographic as part of a proposed government action plan intended to improve the quality of life experienced by the LGBT community. Christie "attended a meeting with a GEO policy manager and was able to identify many of the problems faced on a daily basis due to lack of awareness, lack of recognition and ultimately lack of provision for people of non-gendered identity... " [13]. The results of the consultation/s are scheduled to be published in some form in early 2013.

Petitions

In 2009 Christie announced on per LiveJournal that per had set up an online petition at the Number 10 Downing Street website [14] with the aim “to end the systematic erasure of those who do not exist within the artificial binary of male and female” [15].

In October 2012 Christie announced on per LiveJournal that per had set up two online petitions, the first concerning the legal protection for all trans* and intersex individuals in the UK, and the second in support of ‘X’ passports in the United Kingdom [16]. Pink News reported in an article dated 10th January 2013 that several government ministers had signed the second petition; "MPs Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat former Minister for Women and Equality, now the International Development Minister, and MP Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, who came out as bisexual to PinkNews in 2006, have both signed the petition which has almost three hundred signatures" [17].

External links

This page uses Creative Commons licensed content from Nonbinary.org (view authors).

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