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. Mit

    Professor X must be rolling in his grave

    September 15, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ellen Degenirate

    Call me, Chaz !!!!

    September 15, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nah

    rachel: "Even Australia has overtaken the USA in human rights.... shame on America."

    And what "human right" is involved in calling yourself male or female, especially when your beliefs about your gender are opposed to physical reality? Keep in mind that a gender identification is intended for *gasp* physical identification.

    "has overtaken the USA"

    Right. So if a person genuinely believes that they're a pumpkin, or that their heads are made of glass, does their belief dictate reality?

    "Transgendered" people are deserving of respect insofar as they're human. But pretending that there isn't a "mental disorder" involved in believing that you are what you are not is absurd. Genuine beliefs have no bearing on facts, remember.

    September 15, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      "because gender is based on YOU and HOW YOU IDENTIFY."

      This is unavailing. If you identify yourself as a woman, but your body is that of a man, how does your identification change the facts?

      You may as well say that you identify yourself as a porpoise, and pretend that that makes it true.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • RandyMarshCT

      Nah: You are the only one making sense here. I'm so thankful that someone here is reasonable, it is renewing my faith in humanity.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      If you take notice, you are the only two on this page that are negative...maybe you should both take a hard look in the mirror! Stop with the stereotypes and discrimination...anyway, how does ANY of this effect either of you? Are you really that worried about how someone else (whom you don't even know) identifies themselves?

      September 15, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      nicole: "If you take notice, you are the only two on this page that are negative...maybe you should both take a hard look in the mirror! Stop with the stereotypes and discrimination"

      Who said anything about stereotypes and discrimination?

      The question was why the original poster thinks changing your identification on a passport - to reflect something that is contrary to your physical makeup - is a "human right". Especially when passport identifications are intended to help others identify you based only your physical appearance. I don't think that's a controversial assertion.

      "Are you really that worried about how someone else (whom you don't even know) identifies themselves?"

      See above.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • BS1

      So if someone is born with mixed or ambiguous genitalia, that is a mental illness?

      September 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      bs1: "So if someone is born with mixed or ambiguous genitalia, that is a mental illness?"

      Nice strawman.

      First, exceptions prove hardly anything about a rule. Namely, the rule that most people are born with one set of genitals over another.

      Second, a person born with both genitals, but who believes they're male or female, is what they believe because their perception accords with reality.

      It's a "mental disorder" insofar as the person believes they're something they are not. To borrow from Descartes, if someone believes that they are a pumpkin, or that their heads are made of glass, does that make it so?

      September 15, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Nah,

      I hope that you have a transgendered child someday...

      September 15, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      nicole: "I hope that you have a transgendered child someday..."

      It's amazing how you're completely incapable of substantiating your positions.

      You've been shown the fallacies in your arguments, and yet you adhere to them dogmatically. And what's more shocking is that you refuse to even attempt to make an ad hoc justification for your beliefs, but merely respond with an ad hominem and run away instead.

      You can't be for real, can you?

      September 15, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Hahaha...I AM for real...can you stop hating people for no apparent reason?

      September 15, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      nicole: "Hahaha...I AM for real...can you stop hating people for no apparent reason?"

      Once again, who said anything about hate?

      I asked you explicit questions about your beliefs. Questions you refuse to answer.

      Are you going to substantiate your positions, or merely believe them dogmatically and without reflection?

      September 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • LouisvilleSluggr

      Couldn't agree with you more Nah!

      September 15, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. POD

    There are only two genders in nature.....you are either born with one or without one....male or female. Regardless f how the politically correct crowd want to 'spin' this to make emotionally troubled people happy.

    September 15, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      You are obviously a close minded hypocritical person who will never understand the point behind all of this. Why are you even on this page if you're only going to make a negative comment?

      September 15, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      POD, you could not be more wrong. In oh so many levels. A little basic education might be in order? maybe a basic course in endocrinology, genetics, or maybe even basic physiology?

      September 15, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Well said Elizabeth 🙂

      September 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      nicole: "You are obviously a close minded hypocritical person who will never understand the point behind all of this. Why are you even on this page if you're only going to make a negative comment?"

      And what is the point behind it all? To confuse people when it comes to identifying who you are, based on your passport, and which is necessarily tied to your physical identification?

      Please.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Elizabeth

    Always nice to see people and/or governments implementing rules out of love and respect for those most vulnerable among us. It might or might not be the best solution but I certainly love the spirit behind it!

    Kudos Australia!

    September 15, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      I agree 110%! People don't realize how hard it is to live as a transgendered...I hope that the rest of the world catches up!

      September 15, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      eliz: "Always nice to see people and/or governments implementing rules out of love and respect for those most vulnerable among us."

      What? What does this even mean?

      Gender identifications, like photos, are meant for "identification". If you're a woman who feels like a man, placing "male" or "Gender X" does little to help others identify you.

      You may as well have no gender on passports at all.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • RandyMarshCT

      Nah... I totally agree with you.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      Nah, I think my original posting was quite uncomplicated. I am sorry you did not fin it so.

      As for you rational, it doe not make sense to me since those who choose to identify as X will in all likelihood be so few that it would serve as a better identifier of that given person than would the F or M that most everybody else show on their passports.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Elizabeth, these people aren't even worth arguing with. It's obvious that they don't have the mental power required to fully understand what this article is fully about. Luckily, these biggots are slowly dying off and the new generations of people who are accepting of all are taking over. Their days are numbered anyway 🙂

      September 15, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      nicole: "It's obvious that they don't have the mental power required to fully understand what this article is fully about."

      Not really. Your beliefs are illogical or self defeating.

      It's interesting, however, that when you're asked to substantiate your assertions (and make them coherent) you won't.

      "Luckily, these biggots are slowly dying off and the new generations of people who are accepting of all are taking over. Their days are numbered anyway"

      I assume you meant this to be ironic bigotry, right?

      September 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Foggy

      "Luckily, these biggots are slowly dying off and the new generations of people who are accepting of all are taking over. Their days are numbered anyway"

      Now where I have heard that kind of thinking before...oh yes..Gemany...late 1930's....Hail Monolithic thinking! One Opinion Only! Tolerance is weakness!

      Seems we never learn...

      September 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nicole

    I think it's a step in the right direction...it's about time!

    September 15, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Blogson

    Why doesn't Australia simply follow their their logical road to its logical conclusion and scrap passport gender identification altogether?

    September 15, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. RandyMarshCT

    This will just perpetuate and encourage mental disorders. I don't care what anyone says, a man that is dressed as a woman in a women's bathroom is creepy.... mutilated genitals or not.

    September 15, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      How is using the bathroom creepy?? Obviously, you are the one with the most issues. I know quite a few good and honest transgendered people. You should get out more and open your eyes a bit.

      September 15, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      Randy,

      I know that, in your own words, you do not care what I or anyone else has to say, but I must say that I am more "creeped" out by irrational and gratuitous hatred.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Me too Elizabeth! It's funny cause the people who make the most hatred filled comments are typically the people in society that we really have to worry about because they have the biggest problems! Like I said, I know quite a few transgendered who are not (creepy)! They use the bathroom like everyone else does...what is the big deal?

      September 15, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      nicole: "It's funny cause the people who make the most hatred filled comments are typically the people in society that we really have to worry about because they have the biggest problems!"

      And again it's ironic that you talk about "hate filled" people when you're "thankful" that some people's days are numbered (who question the legitimacy of your assertions), and they'll soon be off this earth forever.

      And then you turn around and respond with an ad hominem, rather than making a reasoned argument for your position.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Nicole- You know quite a few transgendered people??? You do realize that each and every single one of them has a serious mental disorder, right??? They ALL are sick in the head and need therapy.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Tom,

      They are NOT messed up and do NOT need therapy! People like yourself need tons of therapy...just by your comment, I can tell that you obviously have quite a few self esteem issues.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      randy: "This will just perpetuate and encourage mental disorders. I don't care what anyone says, a man that is dressed as a woman in a women's bathroom is creepy.... mutilated genitals or not."

      Please stop trolling.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Tom,

      What makes them all "sick in the head"? That sounds like the biggest stereotype to me.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      What makes them sick in the head??? Are you serious???? They cant figure out if they are male or female. Once they do figure it out, they seem to believe that with a little surgery, they can switch. That is VERY sick in the head. Seek therapy not a surgeon.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Again Tom, you are speaking about something you obviously know nothing about. I guarantee you that not ALL of these people are sick in the head.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Yes Nicole, they are. Every single one of them. Reason being is because they are a transgender!! A mentally stable person does not have trouble deciding whether they are man or woman. Plain and simple. You have to have a few screws loose in order to have this problem. This is an issue that no matter how you try to paint it, it is very clearly black and white.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Tom,

      Please read what you just wrote "Reason being is because they are transgender!!"

      Are you kidding me? Seriously, that has got to be the most discriminatory statement that I have read in a while. You ought to be ashamed of yourself!!

      September 15, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Ashamed of myself??? Why, because I am pointing out the obvious? Its not discrimanatory, its fact. I dont hate or dislike them, I just know that they need therapy or treatment and should seek it quickly!! Like anyone else with a mental disorder, its good to seek therapy and medication.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Tom,

      I am transgender...I'm also in the military...I have served our country from all around the world, and have been on several deployments. I volunteer in my off time and do lots of good to help others. Is it really so wrong that I feel differently than you and the majority of the world? So what?? I still do my job and do it well...ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you what a good person I am.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      So Tom,

      You may want to think about who you are offending before posting when you say "ALL" are sick in the head...cause I am certainly NOT sick in the head at all! And I will go through with everything and you and everyone else will never know the difference anyway.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Nicole, you do sound like a very nice person who does a lot of good for people. I think that is wonderful. With that being said, there are plenty of really great and wonderful people in the world that still require therapy from time to time. I was never saying you or anyone that is transgender is automatically a bad person. Maybe just a little confused.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Tom,

      I apologize then too...I maybe misunderstood you as well! I have been talking with people and I think it's great to finally find myself...I now know who I am. It's just tough and frustrating when people constantly put you down. I have lost my best friend and some of my family because of this...some people just can't accept it and it's ashame. Nice talking with you though Tom...I have to go though...gotta sleep! ttyl

      September 15, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joe

    There are six billion people on this planet. Must we cater and pander to every single race, creed, ethnicity, gender, special interest group, demographic, religion, ideology, and philosophy? Oh wait...I want a special designation for brown haired white men born between 1960 and 1970 who drink coffee. I have a blog and a website...I demand equal treatment and recognition for my group. How about government funding too?

    September 15, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      You're not even worth arguing with...cause obviously you wouldn't understand anyway!

      September 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      I understand that the world spends way too much time being politically correct and pandering to ever group of people who has a blog and twitter account for fear of offending anyone. Everyone has to be a special bright shining star, right? Oooh...you're super special and I recognize your right to be (FILL IN YOUR GROUP NAME HERE). Gimme a break. And before you go off, this isn't because of people being LGBT. It's because everybody demands recogntion just to fkcuing exist.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      Joe,

      Let's see you already get (passport info):

      1) hair color (brown)

      2) race (white)

      3) gender (man)

      4) age (whatever year you were born)

      Heck, you even get to post your pic, just like you can in your blog/website...

      And you are complaining because someone wants to make it easier on some individuals by expanding one of the categories in which you are already a privileged?

      Oh, I forgot the coffee part... but maybe you should give it some thought to laying off the caffeine?

      September 15, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Well said Joe –

      Nicole, personally I don't care what is or is not between your legs. With the miricale of modern science these people are allowed to switch genders, or get stuck in the middle. Creepy I must say. Apart from these debates, I suggest x should be endorsed .. have these individuals considered implications of traveling in say Africa, India, China, through out the Arab world.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guy

      Joe, why are you discriminating against me???? I fit your description in every way ... except I don't like coffee. Shame on you!!!!

      September 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Oh, I'm so sorry, Guy. You're right. We need another demographic for your special group...brown haired white men born between 1960 and 1970 who DON'T drink coffee. My apologies...your group is super special and I hope you get the recognition you deserve.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lucke

    Hummmm... what about showing gender in degrees, like 10 for male and zero for woman: Gender 5; gender 7, so on... That may well solve this problem... humm???

    September 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rufus

    The X people should get double miles. It is only fair.

    September 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tom

    Absolutely disgusting. Either Male or Female. There is no other gender regardless if you have mental issues and feel the need to cross dress or alter your gender. So strange and gross.

    September 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Male or Female – those are the choices – you are a man or a woman or messed up!!!

      September 15, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Yet another close minded bigot....never gonna get it. Funny part though is that after all the surgeries, people like yourself Tom will have no idea if they are truly talking with a male or female....none what so ever! I think it's also hilarious that there is nothing you can do to stop people from having these surgeries. Yeah, you can come onto a forum like this and complain like a little child, but in the end, it will not stop people from doing this.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Yes Bill, those ARE the choices! This isnt a difficult thing to understand. Unless we start handing out passports to plants and animals, the only options one can have is MALE OR FEMALE.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Male, Female, or X Tom...it's already changed so there is nothing you can do about it now!

      September 15, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeepers

      Oh, Tom. There are lots of cultures that recognize an in between gender. And yes, sometimes it is a psychological issue. But there are other situations where someone is born with both sets of organs, or chromosome mutations that literally leave them somewhere in between. I find it "absolutely disgusting" that people like you don't bother to educate themselves and yet feel justified in judging something they know nothing about.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Im not close minded at all. This is absolute fact. Just because one cant tell the difference, doesnt change the fact that they are either male or female. Transgender is not a real gender, it is a mental disorder, a brain defect if you will. If we start listing transgender, we need to start listing things such as sociopath, psychopath, and various other mental disorders because that is exactly what being transgender is.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      Tom,

      You really should take Jeepers advice and educate yourself on the issue...it's apparent you know nothing about it.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Brian

    There are people that aren't like me who don't fit into my world view! Quick, make sure things are as hard as possible on them! It's only fair since they make me scared and uncomfortable and I'm in a demographic that happens to be in the majority!

    September 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Madge

    Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don't. I think I shall call myself Almond Joy Mounds.

    September 15, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    These days, passport ID is based on biometrics–in other words, whatever you, as an individual person, not a gendered person, happen to look like. So I don't think this will interfere with the passport's identification role.

    September 15, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8