Australian passports now offer gender option 'X' for intersex people
September 15th, 2011
10:32 AM ET

Australian passports now offer gender option 'X' for intersex people

In a move the Australian government hopes will help remove discrimination against intersex or transgender people, the country's passports will now offer three options: male, female and indeterminate, the government said Thursday.

"This initiative is in line with the Australian Government’s commitment to remove discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or sex and gender identity," according to the Australian Passport Office. "The policy removes unnecessary obstacles to recording a person’s preferred gender in their passport."

Those who do not identify themselves as male or female will no longer be required to check off the "M" or "F" box under gender, but instead will have the option of checking "X," according to the new passport rules.

“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," Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said.

The office said birth certificates or citizen certificates won't need to be altered in order to have a new passport issued. And those who identify themselves as transgender will be able to choose their preferred gender so long as it is supported by a statement from a doctor.

"Sex reassignment surgery is not a prerequisite to issue a passport in a new gender," according to the Australian Passport Office. "A letter from a medical practitioner certifying that the person has had, or is receiving, appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to a new gender, or that they are intersex and do not identify with the sex assigned to them at birth, is acceptable."

In the past, Australian citizens had to choose either male or female, and were able to make changes to their gender on the documents only if they had sex reassignment surgery. The United States made a similar change in 2010 that dropped the surgery requisite for transgender people. The United Kingdom also allows people to check a gender other than their gender at birth. In Canada, you can make a change only if you have had sex reassignment surgery. In New Zealand the decision is made by a family court ruling.

Australia's Attorney General Robert McClelland said he hoped the change in policy will alleviate some of the frustrations for intersex and transgender people.

"Most people take for granted the ability to travel freely and without fear of discrimination,” McClelland said in a statement. "This measure will extend the same freedoms to sex and gender diverse Australians. While it’s expected this change will only affect a handful of Australians, it’s an important step in removing discrimination for sex and gender diverse people."

soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. Recollections of generation X

    1.) Here's to hoping that our own 'generation X' isn't of aboriginal lineage.

    September 15, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  2. yusuf

    australia has gone crazy.

    September 15, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      Not really. Roughly 1% of children are born of indeterminate gender. What's wrong with acknowledging that?

      September 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • ron mcloughlin

      Sounds like A Muslim name? Which does beg the ? "What if the country of entry denies entry to X-gender people? I think the Aussies, whom I admire very much, may have opened a can of worms. I'm not so sure that gender shud be a question after all most names are marked for gender. There are no Arab women called YUSUF and the picture on the passport tells you what the gender of the traveller is. Gender is more than one shud know.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |

      @ron mcloughlin
      Perhaps instead of judging a nation trying to incorporate everyone and make them feel welcome, OR making a racist statement about a person's name, you SHOULD learn how to spell.

      September 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Fonseka

    What about those who doesn't have a gender at all

    September 15, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Mika

      What about those, who do not know English grammar?

      September 15, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • ron mcloughlin

      Like who?

      September 15, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Magneto

    Dr. Jean Gay: Ladies and gentlemen, we are now seeing the beginnings of another stage of human evolution. These mutations manifest at puberty, and are often triggered by periods of heightened emotional stress.
    Senator Kelly: Thank you, Miss Gay! That was-quite educational. However it fails to address the issue which is the focus of this hearing. Three words: are mutants dangerous.
    Audience: Yes!

    September 15, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    So....which box would Chaz Bono check?

    September 15, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • bobcat2u


      September 15, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      [Sigh] Chaz is male. Try to deal with that.

      September 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      Probably he would check male.

      September 15, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • kevin

      Who cares, it's none of our business.

      September 15, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Headroom

      They could still check the "F" box for "freak".

      September 15, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • ron mcloughlin

      X, U dummy!

      September 15, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dotmafia

    Congratz to Australia!

    September 15, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jam

    May be then can add "ND – NO D!cK" !!

    September 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nicky

    So let's see if the US State Dept and US passport office follows suit. I think this would be interesting and at the same time how will this apply to the REAL ID ACT

    September 15, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Khaos

      I travel often as a female though being born a male. My ID still shows my boi side since I can't live 24/7 female, yet. Do get some funny looks from TSA but overall they are understanding and accommodating. It's not my fault that a female mind got put in a male body at birth.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Frank

    People of the United States of America and the World,
    Apparently there is little signs of intelligent life in Australia.
    This PC, BS has to stop,this kind of issue is one of an incredible amount of things on why people on this planet are so screwed up.Look,bottom line is if you were born with XY Chromosomes you are Male, XX you are a Female.All this other physcological game playing means nothing.Let have a Chromosome validation on every passport so there is no confusion when going through Customs.

    September 15, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      Educate yourself please. Appalling ignorance here.

      September 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd in DC

      There is such a thing as a female with XY chromosomes – comes from an in utero infusion of estrogen at a key point of fetal development. The reverse can happen – the fetus is XX, but the body creates androgen and causes the baby to become male.

      In both cases, the child is the exact opposite of what the chromosomes say (the the person is sterile).

      September 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • BeckFastPaws

      So then, what is a person with XXY (aka Klinefelter's Syndrome) ?

      September 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alan Lau

      Yes, this has to stop. It's all just too confusing for poor Frank. There's no room for ambiguity in his cookie-cutter world.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. @Magneto

    These curiosities are NOT manifestations of human evolution. They are the tip of the iceberg of the ill-health effects associated with long-term usage of short-term use only mind altering medications being prescribed in wealthy nations who cab afford them. How many tranny's are starving in Africa, for example. The US citizenry spent more on dangerous pharmaceuticals than they do on national defense. These are physical manifestaions of children whose own parents and grandparents abused pharmaceuticals as their Doctor banked. Period.

    September 15, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      You have no idea how complex gender is. These folks always existed... it's just that no one talked about them!

      September 15, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Guest


    September 15, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. WArthaugg

    Interse-x? I've never heard that word before. It's too ambiguous. Trans-gender at least gives you an idea of what's going on....

    September 15, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      Another ignorant person. If you haven't heard of a word, LOOK IT UP!

      September 15, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • thoshebebutlittle

      There's a small, but significant, portion of the population who are born who don't fit into the has-XX-chromosomes-and-full-set of -female-parts or has-XY-chromosomes-and-male-parts boxes. They may have XY chromosomes but develop as female because their body does not recognize testosterone, be born with both male and female parts, etc.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chaz Bono

    I can check your box now that I'm a dude, banasy. Thanks Sonny and Cher...I inherited your already imperfect genes twisted even further away from nature by all those mind altering drugs you are both famous for abusing. and stop looking at me. Look at retardo Marvin Bush...his mom used to eat xanax out of a cerial bowl. One of her other boys eyes are so close together, John Wayne(rip) couldda poked both of his eyes out with one finger, pilgrim. lmao

    September 15, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. rh

    Why does the government need to know our gender at all?

    And if it is illegal for someone to use the bathroom for the opposite gender, how can gender X used a public bathroom?

    It's like the issue of marriage – the government should not be involved. The government should not care if someone is a man or a woman or whatever.

    September 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      Who ever said anything about the bathroom?

      September 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • BeckFastPaws

      The government should not be involved in a civil contract such as marriage? If civil commitments should not be licensed by the government, who should? The churches? I don't think so.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Really?

    I think this could have a bad outcome. This gives terrorists a chance to be even more sly then they already are. A terrorist that dresses like a woman would be harder to catch than if he didn't just saying!

    September 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      They still have to go through a security screening.

      September 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      Why are people so afraid of others who can't or won't check M or F?

      September 15, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alan Lau

      Jen, because many people are afraid of what they don't understand. Simple as that.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
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