Marriage (Same Sex Couples)

Memorandum submitted by Miss Celia Macleod FRCOG (MB 127)

Summary

1. This memorandum is addressed mainly to Schedule 4 – Part 6 – Occupational Pension Schemes and survivor benefits. I fully support the comments in memoranda submitted by GIRES (MB29), Janet and Sarah Woods (MB69) and Dr Carla Skinner (MB104). My comments aim to give a clear picture of the magnitude of loss from survivor benefits from occupational pension schemes that may result from the Bill in its present form.

Introduction

2. I am a 67 year old retired Consultant Gynaecologist who underwent Gender Reassignment in 2006 and who has only recently learned from colleagues in the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) of the threat from the above Bill to widow’s benefits from public sector Occupational Pension Schemes. I qualified as a doctor (as Dr Colin Bone) in 1969 and contributed to the NHS Superannuation Scheme from then until my partial retirement in 2006. After many years as a junior hospital doctor I served as Consultant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn from 1982 until my final retirement in 2010. My wife Gloria and I were married in 1970 and remain so to this day with both of us drawing great strength from our relationship. Over the years the gender incongruity that had puzzled me from childhood became an increasing problem for me and after seeking professional help I eventually underwent gender transition. I have not been able to obtain legal recognition of my gender by applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) as this would have required annulment of our marriage – something that neither of us would contemplate. We have therefore welcomed the current Bill which has among its stated aims to: "enable married transsexual people to gain legal recognition in their acquired gender without having to end their marriage". It now appears that our hopes may be ill founded.

The Pension Issue

3. From the minister’s previous comments it appears to be purely a matter of administrative convenience to lump together married couples like ourselves where one of them has transitioned (whose pension rights may date back many years) with Gay and Lesbian couples (whose pension rights only date back to 1988). Having lumped together these disparate groups, pensionable years of service prior to 1988 are then eliminated in calculating widow’s survivor benefits. In our case the granting of a GRC within our marriage would, we calculate, if I were to pre-decease Gloria, reduce her pension by about 48% - or well in excess of £ 18,000.00 per annum at today’s values. This would be poor reward for her constancy and support during the most difficult years of our lives and would imply a poor value assigned by government to our marriage. Clearly this severe financial impediment would make it impossible for me to conceive of applying for a GRC. The real outcome of this situation would be that the Bill would give me the right to gender recognition with one hand only to take it away with the other. I do know of several other couples in similar circumstances although our numbers are small. Because this matter only concerns people who were contributing to pension schemes before 1988, the numbers affected will inevitably reduce further with time. One important consequence is that, in the event that this injustice were enacted, there would be a diminishing likelihood of any move to correct it at a later date.

A Fast Track Procedure

4. This matter will only become relevant if the pension situation is resolved. We are keen to see a simplified "Fast Track" procedure for legal gender recognition for those like ourselves who have deferred applying for a GRC for years because of the determination to preserve our marriages.

Conclusion

5. The lack of protection of survivor pension benefits in this Bill is perverse and negates the stated aim of the Bill in respect of transsexual people. It also offends against our Human Rights.

March 2013

Prepared 13th March 2013