On the Kim Walmsley gender case

Newspapers are reporting that a woman from Liverpool, Kim Walmsley (right), has had her marriage annulled, and been refused a passport, because the official copy of her birth certificate wrongly records her gender as male. The result is that she had to leave Australia with her husband in 2005, where she had been living on a temporary work visa and had set up a business. The fact that she is actually female is demonstrated by having had five children of her own, but the law apparently provides no means of rectifying this error, unlike when people actually have their gender reassigned. (Update: Kim has started an e-Petition to get this law changed; you have to be a British resident or citizen to sign.)

I learned about this by seeing a link on Twitter to the story on PinkNews, which itself was derived from a story on the Daily Mirror site. The Daily Mail has a fuller version. It seems she was able to get married and get a passport by submitting copies of the certificate her family had been issued after her birth, but when she needed to renew it and was out of the country (or perhaps had lost the original), it transpired that the register office had kept a copy that said she was male and so this was her “official” gender. The upshot was that her marriage was declared to be an illegal same-sex marriage and so was no basis for her to have a visa in Australia. The situation is a cause of distress for her not only because she is unable to get a passport, but also because she is a Christian and the Church has also ruled her marriage invalid. This is pretty ridiculous, because marriage as a religious ritual is separate from marriage as a legal document, and surely womanhood in the sense required for a religious marriage is not conferred by a bit of paper which can be written on in error. It is a matter of fact.

There actually is a precedent for someone to have their official gender changed without going through the gender recognition system: in 1998 a girl named Joella Holliday, who had been born intersex and who had no recognisable sex at birth, won a campaign to get her gender legally reassigned (according to the Daily Mirror, the Office for National Statistics agreed to reassign her). She had been given the name Joel David as her mother wanted to christen her and give her a name as she feared she would not survive. At age one, she was reassigned female as she did not have the body parts necessary to function as a male, but the state refused to issue her an amended birth certificate until the family were on the verge of taking the case to the European Court for Human Rights. Kim’s case should be clearer than that because she is actually biologically female and always was.

Some transgender activists have made an issue of this (it was a tweet by one of them that alerted me to this):

(“Cis” is the opposite of “trans”, in this case meaning a woman who was correctly identified as a girl at birth and has lived all of her life as a female and does not challenge this fact.)

The problem is that the law actually provides a mechanism for a trans person to change their legal gender, and the two-year wait is intended to make sure the change is permanent before altering an important legal document. This woman has been waiting nine years since this mistake came to light in 2005, and her current gender has been in place since she was born in 1965, not since 2005, so the two-year wait has already been exceeded. With trans people, their sex is correctly identified at birth and they develop a different gender identity and sometimes take steps to make it a physical reality. In this case, a mistake on a bit of paper means that an official document which consitutes the legal record of someone’s gender (or sex, as it actually says) does not match the physical reality or her identity. (Similar difficulties exist for some intersex people who develop a different gender identity to the one they were assigned, or identified with, at birth; the legal gender reassignment process that exists for transgender people does not apply to them.)

There is no legal mechanism for changing Kim’s gender because this mistake is quite rare and the eventuality was not taken into account when the law was written. It is much rarer than someone undergoing a gender reassignment process, but rectifying it should be a simple process as it was just a clerical error; there is no great debate to be had over it. The resentment of some trans activists for this story becoming prominent while they experience some of the same difficulties is misplaced, as this has nothing to do with transgenderism except for the fact that laws that benefit them, do not benefit her. It smacks of “if we suffer, so should she”.

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  • Jess Key

    I might be missing something really obvious, but there IS a mechanism for getting it changed. Why can’t you use §29 of Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 to have it corrected?

    An error of fact or substance in any such register may be corrected by entry in the margin (without any alteration of the original entry) by the officer having the custody of the register, and upon production to him by that person of a statutory declaration setting forth the nature of the error and the true facts of the case made by two qualified informants of the birth or death with reference to which the error has been made, or in default of two qualified informants then either by two credible persons having knowledge of the truth of the case or, where it applies, in accordance with section 29A of this Act.

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Eliz2/1-2/20/section/29

  • Jess Key

    I might be missing something really obvious, but there IS a mechanism for getting it changed. Why can’t you use §29 of Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 to have it corrected?

    An error of fact or substance in any such register may be corrected by entry in the margin (without any alteration of the original entry) by the officer having the custody of the register, and upon production to him by that person of a statutory declaration setting forth the nature of the error and the true facts of the case made by two qualified informants of the birth or death with reference to which the error has been made, or in default of two qualified informants then either by two credible persons having knowledge of the truth of the case or, where it applies, in accordance with section 29A of this Act.

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Eliz2/1-2/20/section/29

  • Zoe O’Connell

    I suspect the trouble is the near-impossibility of finding living “qualified informants” who can remember a birth nearly half a century ago. I doubt anyone else can help if the medical records have been destroyed.

    The impossibility of proving cisgender status has always been the Achilles heel of much gender identity-related legislation.

  • Zoe O’Connell

    I suspect the trouble is the near-impossibility of finding living “qualified informants” who can remember a birth nearly half a century ago. I doubt anyone else can help if the medical records have been destroyed.

    The impossibility of proving cisgender status has always been the Achilles heel of much gender identity-related legislation.

  • Thomas bomblediner

    Thomas bomblediner : Being accused of this myself I grew to like it, at the end of the day if you have a sex change why not admit it ? I did an now I enjoy my life a lot more. It’s always good to have something up your sleeve but you don’t want to be in the rut forever

  • Thomas bomblediner

    Thomas bomblediner : Being accused of this myself I grew to like it, at the end of the day if you have a sex change why not admit it ? I did an now I enjoy my life a lot more. It’s always good to have something up your sleeve but you don’t want to be in the rut forever

  • The point is, she didn’t.

  • The point is, she didn’t.

  • surreptitiousevil

    She’s 49 - are her parents not still alive? Or aunts or uncles? It states “credible” if no “qualified” persons are available. And the parents are “qualified” in terms of the registration of births in accordance with s1(2) of that Act.

    s29A not being applicable in this case (dealing solely with incorrect recording of the father.)

  • surreptitiousevil

    She’s 49 - are her parents not still alive? Or aunts or uncles? It states “credible” if no “qualified” persons are available. And the parents are “qualified” in terms of the registration of births in accordance with s1(2) of that Act.

    s29A not being applicable in this case (dealing solely with incorrect recording of the father.)

  • Kim Walmsley

    Hi, I am Kim Walmsley, just thought that I would clarify with everyone that I was actually born a female and I am still a female, I have had a birth certificate my whole life that says ‘Girl’ on it which I used to get my passport and to get married and to get my Australian visa because i did not know that i was registered as a boy in the registrars book until 10 years ago. It was her negligence that has put me in this predicament because my girl birth certificate once i found out then became an illegal document. The corrections procedure that is in place at the moment is inadequate because it cannot touch the word boy and that quite simply is not good enough! It is my right to have my sex recorded correctly.

    Please take the time everyone to sign my e petition and share it with as many friends as possible, we need to get the corrections procedure changed once and for all. Thankyou in advance xxx

    E-Petition Link: epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/64787

  • Kim Walmsley

    Hi, I am Kim Walmsley, just thought that I would clarify with everyone that I was actually born a female and I am still a female, I have had a birth certificate my whole life that says ‘Girl’ on it which I used to get my passport and to get married and to get my Australian visa because i did not know that i was registered as a boy in the registrars book until 10 years ago. It was her negligence that has put me in this predicament because my girl birth certificate once i found out then became an illegal document. The corrections procedure that is in place at the moment is inadequate because it cannot touch the word boy and that quite simply is not good enough! It is my right to have my sex recorded correctly.

    Please take the time everyone to sign my e petition and share it with as many friends as possible, we need to get the corrections procedure changed once and for all. Thankyou in advance xxx

    E-Petition Link: epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/64787

  • alex hendeson

    Is this the Kim Walmsley who runs formby bubble well if your really a real woman why hide that you only work for the formby bubble and that you actually run it as in the owner

  • alex hendeson

    I was a sex change once but I’m alright now though

  • Carol hughes

    Kim Walmsley from Ward Avenue is still in denial that her son never does anything wrong. WELL today it is out there that he was found to be the cause of the death of little Fray McCarthy aged 21 and a fun caring young student. James Stan Walmsley was found guilty of killing Fray as all his best friends say at least their friend can be layed to rest now that Jimmy Walmsley and his family now know that he was the cause of the worst kind of death by dangerous driving, and that he has a history of dangerous driving also he was a banned driver at the time of little Frays death. Dean Lavelle gave evidence in Liverpool Crown Court on the 15th-16th June 2015 and had to have soecial measures in court because of witness intimidation. Indeed Kim tim Walmsley has put a cryptic poem on her facebook page also her twitter page claiming she new the truth, but the Jury found all this a bed of lies and seen this poem as comtempt. We all from decent backgrounds from Formby are all proud of Dean Lavelle for a young person who his best friend died faced upto bully boy tactics and intimidation from certain individuals who live in Formby. Those people now can hold their heads in shame as they are a bunch of low lifes who are not from this world.

  • Paula baylis

    Jack & kim Walmsley from ward avenue Formby, who own and run the Formby Bubble are still in denial about Dean Lavelles best friend Little Fray McCarthy. It is now clear that Frazer McCarthy hated the Walmsleys and was never Jimmy Walmsleys mate. Jimmy Walmsley has a criminal history back ground.