Transgender woman who was refused female state pension at 60 takes case to European courts

A transgender woman, who was refused a female state pension at the age of 60 after she chose to stay married, is to take her fight to the European courts.

European Courts - Via Shutterstock
European Courts – Via Shutterstock∫

On Wednesday (10th August), five Supreme Court justices referred the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) “for their guidance”.

The Supreme Court’s deputy president, Lady Hale, alongside Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption, Lord Toulson and Lord Hodge, said that the court was ‘divided’ on the resolution to MB’s challenge.


The woman, known only as MB, turned 60 in 2008 and applied for a female state pension but was told by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that she would have to wait and apply for a male pension at 65.

The woman went on to launch an appeal against the decision, which was rejected by the Court of Appeal in 2014. MB had then asked the Supreme Court to overturn the original decision.

MB transitioned from male to female more than 20 years ago. However, as a Christian, she decided to stay married “in the eyes of God” to her wife and the mother of their two children.

Transgender people have the right to apply for a full ‘gender-recognition certificate’ under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act. However under current legislation, if the person remains married, the certificate cannot be issued unless that marriage is annulled.

Giving the judgement, Lord Sumption said, “At the time which is relevant to this appeal, the acquired gender of a transsexual person was not recognised for the purpose of determining the qualifying age for a state pension, if that person was and remained party to a subsisting marriage.”

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