Joint Committee On Human Rights Written Evidence

28.Submission from Christine Goodwin


  In 1986 I made my application in the United Kingdom for my change of gender to be recognised. Firstly to the Department of Social Security and then the O.P.C.S.

  I had completed full gender change operations and the United Kingdom Government refused to recognise my new gender and having exhausted all the means open to me in the United Kingdom I applied to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to accept my case. This was accepted in May 1995. Due to the complex issues involved the Lower Chamber of seven Judges referred my case to the Grand Chamber and my case was heard on 20 March 2002. A decision was then made on 11 July 2002 in my favour by a majority of 17 Judges to nil against the UK Government and I quote:

    "Since there are no significant factors of public interest to weigh against the interest of this individual applicant in obtaining legal recognition of her gender re-assignment, it reaches the conclusion that the fair balance that is inherent in the Convention now tilts decisively in favour of the applicant There has, accordingly, been a failure to respect her right to private life in breach of Article 8 of the Convention."

  (Refer page 27, paragraph 93, Case of Christine Goodwin v the United Kingdom Judgement in Strasbourg on 11 July 2002)

  Fourteen months later the UK Government are still in breach of Articles 8 and 12 of my case. Having spent since 1986 on legal bills and other investigations to win this case in Strasbourg I strongly object to the United Kingdom's proposed "Gender Recognition Bill" in its present form.

The Gender Recognition Bill

  I believe that as a first measure the UK Government should have accepted the European Court of Human Rights decision (17 Judges to nil in favour). The UK Government is therefore obliged under international law to implement this decision, under Article 8 of the Convention and I quote:

    "There has, accordingly, been a failure to respect her right to private life in breach of Article 8 of the Convention."

  (Refer page 27, paragraph 93, Case of Christine Goodwin v United Kingdom Judgement in Strasbourg on 11 July 2002)

  The failure to respect my right to private life is still in breach as of today September 2003 over a year later.

  I make the point of post operative because it would have made a Bill before Parliament and the House of Lords as simple as possible to allow post operative transsexuals like myself to be legally recognised as male/female in our gender change and to regain our rights. It appears to me that the Government have decided to make the legal recognition extremely complicated trying to encapsulate the whole Gender issue in human beings in one Gender Recognition Bill, which has many variations and problems. To get a Bill of this type through Parliament and the House of Lords will take many years after the life of this present Government, because of the following proposals which will not be accepted by the general public for the reasons detailed:

  (1)  People who do not change any anatomical sex organs of their body will be able to have a change of Gender Certificate, so we will have (men) still with their male organs intact legally being a women.

  (2)  People who still retain their original male or female anatomy will be able to revert back to their birth sex at any time. It is really not possible for post operative people to change back to their birth sex mainly for anatomical reasons.

  (3)  It is obvious that it was not the Courts intention to instruct and advise the UK Government to give Civil Status to any person who feels feminine or masculine but specifically to a Post operative Transsexual (myself). (Refer page 25, paragraph 85; page 26 paragraph 90; page 26 paragraph 91; page29, paragraph 101; page30, paragraph 103; page 31, paragraph 108; Case of Christine Goodwin v the United Kingdom Judgement in Strasbourg on 11 July 2002).

  (4)  The only way forward is to introduce a Bill specifically for post operative people, giving full recognition and legal status. In my case legal recognition should have been implemented when the Court of Human Rights accepted my case in 1995 and not later, in accordance with the Court of Human Rights decision.

  (5)  The choice by the UK Government to introduce a Bill of this nature causes such complications and delay with so many diverse people to be catered for. If the reason for implementing such a Bill is to delay until pension age is equalized in the UK the Government will then save millions of Pounds.

  (6)  Instead of using stalling tactics the UK Government could have followed the German and other European Union members example in that the applicant could obtain legal recognition by having a medical examination put forward to a Judge or Magistrate who would then issue a change of Gender Certificate to be placed on the Birth Certificate Registry.

  (7)  Nothing was done by the UK Government until the year 2000 when they introduced the Interdepartmental Working Group and then when my case was heard in Strasbourg in 2002 the Interdepartmental Working Group was reconvened just two days before the Judgement Hearing in Strasbourg.


  The UK Government should have and still can recognise the Court of Human Rights decision of the breach of Human Rights in my case which is still in breach today. This could be recognised as a pre cursor to a simple Bill in Parliament, if that is the only way the Government can comply with its obligations to the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg The proposed Bill in its present form is bound to fail due to all the variations it is try rut to incorporate and the objections it will receive.

    "As Lord Justice Thorpe observed in the Bellinger case, any "spectral difficulties", particularly in the field of family law, are both manageable and acceptable if confined to the case of fully achieved and post operative transsexuals."

  (Refer page 13 paragraph 52, Bellinger v Bellinger, EWCA Civ 1140(2001); see Case of Christine Goodwin v the United Kingdom. Application no. 28957/95)

10 July 2003

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