Since 2004, it has been possible for individuals with
gender dysphoria fulfilling certain criteria to apply to a Gender
Recognition Panel for a certificate confirming that, for all legal
and official purposes, they should be treated by the law as their
However, it is not possible for transgender people in
opposite-sex marriages formedbefore
2013 to receive a full Gender Recognition Certificate
until, and unless, they annul their marriage. This leaves a
substantial number of transgender people who, unwilling to annul a
perfectly happy marriage, are effectively 'locked in' to
their birth gender and left unable to obtain official recognition
of their acquired gender.
In a recent case, MB v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
 UKSC 53, a transgender woman appealed to the Supreme Court
against a decision by the Department for Work and Pensions, and
later the social security tribunal, that she is only entitled to
her state retirement pension at the age of 65 as if she were a man,
simply because she is unwilling to annul her marriage to her
wife. The Court has identified this as an issue they cannot
answer and have referred the matter to the European Court of
Justice for a ruling on whether the Department for Work and
Pensions' position is legally justifiable.
A ruling favourable to MB may force the government to take steps
to amend the law so that annulling an opposite-sex marriage formed
before 2013 is not a requirement to obtain a full Gender
Recognition Certificate, which would unlock gender recognition for
transgender people currently faced with a needlessly difficult
choice between their marriage and their Gender Recognition
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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