EU Court Rules for Transsexual Pension Rights

May 24, 2006 ( - The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that the rights of a woman who had a sex change were breached when the British government said she would have to wait until the male pension age of 65.

According to the BBC, the court said the government’s refusal to recognize Linda Grant’s female status and its failure to hand over her pension at age 60 – the UK retirement age for women – violated her “right to respect for private and family life.”

Grant, 68, who lived as a man until her 20s, was awarded £1,100 in damages and £19,000 in costs in the ruling on Tuesday, the news service reported.

Her birth certificate continued to describe Grant as male after her sex-change operation, but her National insurance card identified her as a woman and she had been paying contributions at the female rate until the difference in the rate was removed in 1975.

When Grant turned 60 years old she applied for a state pension, but was denied on the terms that the sex on the birth certificate determined the retirement age. Her appeal of the decision was denied, but the case was reopened when judges backed a similar case in 2002.

Grant was issued a gender recognition certificate last year, under the government’s new Gender Recognition Act, which gives legal recognition to “acquired gender” for social security benefits and pension rights. Grant’s “victim status” only came to an end when the new legislation came into force, the judges said.

Earlier in the month the European Court of Justice declared that the government’s refusal to give a sex-change woman a pension at the age of 60 was illegal under EU equality laws.