A transgender woman who was refused her female state pension after she remained married, is having her case examined by EU judges.
This is following a London Supreme Court case hearing back in July, concerning a transgender woman, MB, who chose to remain married after her transition. The decision made there blocked her access to a state pension when she turned 60.
They said that they were divided on the issue, and turned to the EU Court of Justice for guidance on the issue.
MB’s case has been going on since before 2014, when judges upheld the decision by the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions), who refused her a female state pension because she was legally still a man.
Currently, under the Gender Recognition Act, transgender people have the right to formally change their gender by getting a full “gender recognition certificate”.
However, this certificate cannot be issued to a married person who didn’t have an annulment on the basis of the gender change.
MB has been married since 1974, but began her transition in 1991 and eventually underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1995. She did not, however, apply for a gender recognition certificate.
MB instead decided to remain married and a mother to her children “in the sight of God”. She then applied for a female state pension at the age of 60 but was refused because of her legal status as a male, and was told to wait until she was 65 (the age for a male pension).
Her attempt to challenge this was rejected by the Court of Appeal, and so MB moved on to the Supreme Court justices in London in an attempt to overturn that decision.
According to the Supreme Court’s deputy president, Lady Hale, they were “divided” on the correct course of action.
She said: “Since there is no CJEU (Court of Justice of the European Union) authority directly in point, it refers the question for their guidance.”
Christopher Stothers, a partner at law firm Arnold & Porter, who represents MB, also chimed in: “This issue is a matter of principle as well as having financial consequences for pensioners.”
“Where an individual is physically, socially and psychologically a woman, as recognised by the state in their passport and driving licence, and indeed surgically, why should they be required – before the state will recognise their gender for pension purposes – to get divorced or have their marriage annulled, particularly where they and their spouse do not wish to do so and indeed have religious objections to doing so? Although we are pleased with the result, the slowness in getting the issue resolved is highly frustrating for the pensioners involved.”