Sutton Coldfield transsexual wins legal battle to receive pension at 60
Jun 22 2010
A married man from the West Midlands who became a woman has won her battle to receive a pension from the age of 60.
Christopher Timbrell, born in 1941, changed her name to Christine in 2000 after surgery to alter her gender.
In 2002 she applied to the Inland Revenue National Insurance Contributions Office for her state pension, which she asked to be backdated to her 60th birthday a year earlier. But her new gender status was not recognised in law because she has not divorced her wife, Joy.
Ms Timbrell, an accountant from Sutton Coldfield, met her wife when she was a man in his twenties and they had two children during their 42-year marriage. His sex change operation was carried out with the full knowledge and consent of the wife and they continue to live together as a married couple.
Most transsexuals, under 2004 legislation, are entitled to enjoy the full status of their new gender. But the new law introduced an important caveat - married transsexuals could only apply to have their gender recognised if their marriages had been annulled or dissolved.
Ms Timbrell took her case to the Court of Appeal after the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said she was entitled to a state pension from the age of 65, the usual age for a man.
Marie-Eleni Demetriou, representing her at a hearing in March, said the rule under the Gender Recognition Act that she must end her marriage before her gender is recognised is a "disproportionate" violation of her human right to respect for her home and family life.
Jeremy Johnson, for the DWP, recognised the "difficult situation" Ms Timbrell found herself in and the "harsh choice" she faced in whether or not to end her happy marriage. But he added: "She is, in law, male and was not therefore entitled to a pension until aged 65."
Lord Justice Aikens, giving the ruling of the three appeal judges, said that before the Gender Recognition Act, English law had no way of dealing with a person who had changed gender, meaning "once a man, always a man".
But he said that a total lack of legal framework to allow UK law to recognise gender change and obtain a pension was discrimination. The judge said that this meant that the DWP cannot deny Ms Timbrell the right to a pension as a woman as from her 60th birthday.