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Transgender Person Urges Supreme Court To Let Him Receive Pension Benefits As Woman

REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter
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A transgender person in the U.K. asked the country’s Supreme Court to rule on whether he can receive pension benefits as a woman and not a man.

Female pensioners in the U.K. receive benefits at age 60, while men receive them at 65. Known as MB, the transgender person transitioned from male to female and now wants to receive his pension at the same age as women.

MB began living as a woman in 1991 and got reassignment surgery four years later. MB says that he is a Christian, and because of this stayed married to his wife. His marriage ultimately prevented him from receiving the pension as a woman.

The 2004 Gender Recognition Act made it possible for transgenders to apply for a certificate showing they were living as the gender opposite the one on their birth certificate. Under the act, a married person cannot get a certificate if they do not annul their marriage. MB married his wife in 1974 and did not annul the marriage.

MB tried to get the Court of Appeals to overturn the Department of Work and Pensions’ decision to not give him the pension as a woman in 2014. When MB turned 60, he applied for the pension, but was denied and told that because he is a man, he must wait until he turned 65.

Appeal judge Lord Justice Maurice Kay said MB was a victim of “a real misfortune,” but under the law, MB was still considered a man. The appeals court ruled unanimously to uphold the department’s decision, saying that the decision was not discriminatory.

“Also, as a Christian she says that she and her wife feel married in the sight of God.Accordingly she has not applied for a gender recognition certificate, and so far as the law is concerned she remains a man,” the judge said.

After reviewing legal submissions offered to the court, the Supreme Court will rule on MB’s pension claim at a later date.

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Amber Randall