Birth Certificate 'Does Not Speak Truth' Claim
[LONDON, ENGLAND] - A former married man now living as a woman today failed in a UK High Court bid to amend her birth certificate to reflect her change of sexual identity.
A judge told Paula Wilhemina Ryder, 53, that the law currently did not allow such an amendment.
But Mr Justice Lightman, sitting in London, offered Ms Ryder some hope when he added: ``It is perhaps possible that the law might one day develop so far as to recognise as a human right the entitlement on the part of transsexuals to the issue of an identity card which records the current as opposed to historic sex of the holder.``
It was also possible that Parliament might alter the law ``so as to permit the (birth) register to be amended to record a subsequent change of sex``.
Ms Ryder, from Henknowle, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, had asked for permission to seek judicial review of the Registrar General`s refusal to allow any alteration to her birth certificate.
She wanted either to be described on her certificate as female after undergoing gender reassignment surgery, or at least to have some marginal note added to the certificate reflecting the fact that she was living as a woman.
Rejecting her application, the judge upheld the Registrar`s argument that her case was unarguable because ``the register of births is a historical register of fact``.
The judge said there was also a House of Lords ruling last year in the case of Bellinger v Bellinger which was binding on all courts and stated that ``sex is determined at birth and cannot subsequently be altered by any such operation as was undergone by the claimant``.
He added: ``Unless and until the House of Lords state the law to be otherwise, in my view permission to apply for judicial review in a case such as the present must likewise be refused ...``
During a recent hearing, Sally Bradley QC, representing Ms Ryder, argued the Registrar`s approach amounted to a breach of human rights and was ``outmoded and simply doesn`t reflect the way in which society has moved over the last 30 years``.
Ms Bradley said: ``Whilst her birth certificate records her identity as being male she regards that as an aberration.
``Putting it very simply, it is a document which doesn`t speak the truth today.``
In a written statement to the judge, Ms Ryder described the ``distress and confusion`` she had suffered from childhood over her gender identity.
Right from birth the question of which sex she belonged to was ambiguous.
The midwife at her birth considered her to be male and she was subsequently registered as male and named Paul.
Ms Ryder said in her statement: ``I was brought up as a male, but I and my family became aware of my feminine characteristics, which I began to display at an early age.
``Throughout my childhood the characteristics became more pronounced. As I matured through adolescence and puberty I suffered badly changes which caused me distress and confusion.``
For a time she lived as both male and female and was ``rebuffed`` when she sought help aged 18 or 19.
She then attempted to live exclusively as a male and married in 1981.
Medical tests revealed she suffered from Klinefelter`s syndrome, which produces an abnormal cluster of chromosomes.
She noticed, while still married, bodily changes which created a more feminine appearance.
Ms Ryder`s wife died in 1994. She then changed her name by deed poll and began treatment which led to gender reassignment surgery in October 1998.
She stated: ``I live fully as female and have the appearance of a woman. I wish to have a complete identity as a female.``