Australians applying for a new passport can now tick one of three gender options – male (M), female (F) or indeterminate (X) – under new guidelines brought in by the department of foreign affairs to allow transgender people to travel free from discrimination.
Previously, people whose gender had changed since birth were required to undergo surgery before they could reflect their identity on their passports.
Now, the federal government’s changes mean that only a doctor’s letter of support is required for an ‘X’ to be marked on their passport.
Heightened security at airports – where IDs are increasingly scrutinised – can create issues for transgender people, who face being questioned and detained if their appearance does not match their gender stated on their passport.
Senator Louise Pratt, Australia’s first parliamentarian with a transgendered partner said the passports reform was an important step forward. She told ABC Radio: “There have been very many cases of people being detained at airports by immigration in foreign countries simply because their passports don’t reflect what they look like.
“It’s very distressing, highly inconvenient and frankly sometimes dangerous.”
Foreign minister Kevin Rudd said in a statement: “This amendment makes life easier and significantly reduces the administrative burden for sex and gender diverse people who want a passport that reflects their gender and physical appearance.”