The European Court of Justice on Tuesday ruled against the British Government for refusing to grant a transgender woman her pension at 60 instead of 65 on the grounds that her sex-change had not been fully recognized by the State. The woman, identified in court documents as M.B., was born a male in 1948, married a woman in 1974, but began living as a woman in 1991. She then underwent sex-change surgery in 1995. However, she did not obtain a gender-recognition certificate, which required her to annul her marriage. Both the plaintiff and her wife had wished to remain married for religious reasons.
On reaching the age of 60 in 2008, MB applied for retirement pension from the State. The pensionable age in Britain is 60 for women and 65 for men. Her application was turned down since, without the gender-recognition certificate, she could not be treated as a woman for the purposes of determining her legal retirement age.
The case was later referred to the European Court of Justice, which found that someone who has lived for a significant time as a person of the opposite sex and has undergone a sex-change operation must be considered to have changed their sex.
The ECJ found that, in this case, British law grants less favourable treatment to someone undergoing a sex change after marriage than to people who keep their gender from birth but are married. This type of discrimination is contrary to European law, it found, ruling that M.B. should receive her pension.