Transsexuals take fight to Europe

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The Independent Online
Two men who changed sex but cannot alter their birth certificates have won a crucial round in their battle for full legal recognition.

Kristina Sheffield and Rachel Horsham say the Government's refusal to accept their new sexual status as women breaches their right to respect for private life guaranteed by the Human Rights Convention. The Human Rights Commission has agreed - and yesterday passed the case to the European Court of Human Rights for a final verdict.

Victory in court next year would force legal changes to allow transsexuals to have their birth certificates altered. The Government says this should not be allowed because the certificate is a record of events at birth and is not affected by what happens subsequently.

Ms Sheffield, 51, of London, has been provided with a passport and driving licence in her new name since changing sex in 1986, but is still regarded as a man in the eyes of the law. That means she was required to divorce before the sex-change surgery and cannot marry a man.

Ms Horsham, also 51, has been living in Amsterdam since 1983, and claims she is forced to live in exile because she wants to marry her male partner. She has already been issued with a birth certificate showing her new name and sex by the Register of Births in The Hague, but a request to the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys in the UK to amend her original birth certificate was rejected.