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. Nah

    nicole: "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."

    And how are they "not" messed up?

    Keep in mind, transgendered people are deserving of respect insofar as they're human. But pretending that there isn't some mental disorder involved - when you believe you're X when you're Y - is beyond the pale of reason. Your logic would mean that anyone who believed themselves anything would, therefore, be that thing.

    Hence, if a person thinks they have animal spirits and are a wolf, well, they'll be a wolf. If they believe they're a pumpkin, well, by golly, they're a goddam pumpkin.

    You do see the fallacious nature of your argument, right?

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

      Much less, the purpose of the argument to begin with was that by creating a "third" gender Australia has nullified the purpose of gender identification: as a physical identifier on a passport. And physical identifiers, not what you feel you are, are what are important when it comes to others making a physical identification of you.

      It's almost tautological.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:30 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?

      "hating people"

      Not really. I said quite clearly that transgendered people - like all people - are deserving of respect insofar as they're human. It was very Kantian, in fact.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • solomon

      I think it's great that Australia is so progressive/tolerant. My only concern rests with the fact that a Passport, is used in making as close to an absolute identification of an individual as possible, and as long as this is not compromised.....great!

      September 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jenn

    For all the individuals who have nothing compassionate or positive to say.
    I can only hope you learn tolerance and acceptance.
    Not every one is born the same way and you all need to mature and act civilize in respecting others.
    Selfless rude remarks like this is what starts hate crimes, and allows injustice to be served.

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

      jenn: "For all the individuals who have nothing compassionate or positive to say.
      I can only hope you learn tolerance and acceptance."

      Oh shut up.

      Questioning the logic of your position isn't being intolerant. It's asking legitimate questions about your beliefs, and showing how and why they're wrong.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • AesopsRetreat_com

      All of your teachers must have been old time Hippies with an agenda. You poor baby, your mind was screwed with from the time you first entered the Left run School system. Now all you know is what they've told you. You poor lemming. Do yourself a favor. Now that your out of their hands, try learning the real truth. You'll be shocked at what they 've hidden from you.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • dauber

      We should be tolerant of everybody. Racists have feelings too. Religious zealots have a valid point of view. Furries are not deviant, just creative.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evolutionism

      I feel profound sympathy for anyone born with one set of equipment, or surgically altered at/near birth so as to have a 'clear delination of gender', who longs to have the other set of equipment. If you ask anyone who has gone through gender reassignment surgery as an adult, as I have politely asked, they will tell you, "The trauma of going through the surgery does not even begin to compare to the extremely huge trauma of living with that discordance between mind and body for the rest of one's life!" Another thing, if you have been alive and living in a large U.S. City for more than 20 years of your life you may have met at least one and possibly more people who have had the surgery and gone through the hormone therapy and gotten on with their lives, becoming more productive and happy than they have ever been before. (You may not even have had a clue as to the fact the person had gone through this.) That is what the decision in the article is about, letting those affected by a genetics-driven condition get on with their lives without being harrassed on a possibly daily basis when they travel. (A whole new tourist industry is about to bloom in Australia...this could be very smart of the Aussies!)

      September 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • KM

      The "left run school system"? Oh please. If I had just "believed what they told me" in public schools I would have much less tolerance and would be ignorant about these issues completely. If anything, the Christian influence was the greatest one.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blah

      Sure, Nah, but only if they're from yours......

      September 15, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. me

    So what if I just dont' want my gender on the passport. Can just get a note from some quack (that I'm sure will be set up to cater to this) and choose that option?

    September 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MarkWisdom

    So if an "X" person requires a body search, does that mean either a M or F can do the search or do they have to maintain special X's on the staff for those searches?

    September 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MidwestGirl

    So if your gender is X, which bathroom do you use when you're out in public?

    September 15, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Grow up, moron.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      @Matt – Why does that question offend you? It's a legitimate one.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      No, actually that question couldn't be more irrelevant to the topic. Who cares what toilet they use. Poor attempt at a joke.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evolutionism

      As they are forced by societal convention, even now, they use the bathroom which matches the equipment they have. No matter how creeped out it makes themselves, or anyone else, feel. (Remember the gay female in college/highschool gym class who used to shower next to you?)

      September 15, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blah

      so, Evolutionism, you think all gay women want to be men? Could you BE anymore silly?

      September 15, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. AesopsRetreat_com

    Aussies used to be decent people – now they've ALL turned into Gender X. Not a true Man or Woman in the bunch.
    What a shame...
    I guess Down Under – is Over.....

    September 15, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. What?

    You thought that Americans could spend more on prescribed pharmaceuticals than they do on national defense without their way of thinking being altered? Without there being permanent brain damagEven to the point where they took sides with the sodomites? Before YOU took these dangerous drugs and passed them onto your unborn child, WE did NOT tolerate anything that came between ourselves and our kids. WE had laes AGAINST sodomy...AGAINST abortion. You drugged-out freaks are letting America go so you can butt hunch each other. That, and murder your own unborn child. SICK bassterds.

    September 15, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • tjaman

      Butt-hunching rarely results in children, unborn or otherwise.

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

      the above comment is a joke, right?

      ....right?

      people like this don't actually exist...right???

      September 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • really?

      and by "above comment" i mean What?'s comment. I totally <3 butt hunching. ESPECIALLY because it doesn't result in babies.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brooke

      Hey just so you know, lots of plain straight guys, even married ones, like to "butt hunch" (btw, thanks for the laugh) their girlfriends / wives. So stop screaming about it like its only gay men who do so. Nothing is being ruined. Nothing is being destroyed, other than perhaps respect and courtesy towards others and the fine art of _minding your own business._

      September 15, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blah

      No, it's not a joke.....typical Philip spewimg his sh!t again........

      September 15, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Harry Pairatestes

    For the people who claim transgendered people do not have a mental disorder, then why do people considering gender changing surgery must undergo mental therapy and be approved for the surgery by a psychologist/psychiatrist?

    September 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      harry: "For the people who claim transgendered people do not have a mental disorder, then why do people considering gender changing surgery must undergo mental therapy and be approved for the surgery by a psychologist/psychiatrist?"

      This is a bit of a dishonest argument. They go through therapy because the loss of a person's genitals, as opposed to getting larger breasts, is often more traumatic if it is not, in fact, what the person wants.

      You can believe transgendered people have a mental disorder (like a person with ADHD, OCD, etc.) without thinking they're crazy or less human.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evolutionism

      To weed out those who would wake up from the surgery and shreik, "What have I done!" Some people just want the attention of saying that they want they surgery etc... but it is a one way street and once traveled, there is no going back.

      September 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harry Pairatestes

      Well they actually undergo therapy to determine if the change being sought is or is not the result of a mental illness. Some people who want a gender transformation are denied because the source of the change is mental illness. Not everyone is approved for the surgery, even if the person really wants it done.

      September 15, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Recollections of S T H U

    ....and see if you can grow a sense of humor for once, intellectual geekboy.

    September 15, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • S1N

      If the best insult you can find is to compliment someone's intelligence, you may want to kill yourself.

      September 15, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Julia

    People there are minorities out there, letting them change a letter on their passport will NOT effect your life in any way. Why do you care so much?

    September 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      julia: "People there are minorities out there, letting them change a letter on their passport will NOT effect your life in any way. Why do you care so much?"

      Whether it will affect you personally or directly is irrelevant. The two questions are:

      1) The necessity of physical identifiers, so third parties can know who you are (not who you think you are).

      and

      2) The fact that this is little more than a political, feel-good policy.

      September 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. @@Magneto

    Never heard of The X-Men? Magneto and Jean Gray are two characters from it, asshat. It was a joke. Have you taken any drugs in your life that killed your funny bone? Methinks you have. Yeesh.

    September 15, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Learn To Fish

    Don't want to discriminate on the basis of se x? Just remove the designation altogether! Why add an X? It's like Americans not discriminating by using Affirmative Action, makes no sense. Don't want to discriminate, just remove se x, race, etc. Don't create more focus on it.

    September 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. What?

    It takes years, decades for the effects of mind-altering medications to become clearly evident...a persons way of thinking is altered slowwwwky, very slowwwwwly. Not even you yourself notice it. But it is made manifest by how a nation of peoples ingesting massive amounts of mind altering drugs/meds over decades. A people once dead-set against abortion and gayness slowwwwwly has had their way of thinking altered. The proff is in the pudding. And America's pudding, once pure and clean, now reaks with the stench of dung and dead babies. You freaks aren't Americans at all.

    September 15, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blah

      Slooooooooolwly you are losimg your tiny, little, narrow mind. you're about as un-American as you can get!!

      September 15, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. @@Magneto

    I call BS. Not everything can be blamed on Big Pharm because you don't like them. Obviously this is a freaking world-wide problem since the world is addressing it. Face it, you don't know if how many transgendered people are starving in Africa, because there isn't anyone counting...not that there aren't any. Please do us all a favor and stop talking about something that you know absolutely nothing about.

    September 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ed

    This is odd. Isn't that they paid a fortune to be either male or female? Now this will make them to be neither again.

    September 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
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