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. fastiduous

    They should've made it "male, female, and mentally sick"!

    September 15, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. fastiduous

    They should have made it "male, female, and it"!

    September 15, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. fastiduous

    How about "XX, XY, AND ZZ!

    September 15, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Michelle Bachmann

    I am Michelle Bachmann and I am running for the president of the United States of America!

    I command Australia to criminalize gayness and New Zealanders!

    September 15, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MIchael

    It is a sad commentary on religion when those who proclaim their "beliefs and values" the loudest are the most hate filled ones around and are the ones who take some segment of happiness when they're telling someone else they're going to hell.

    September 15, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • paul

      love the sinner, hate the sin. i don't think you understand that concept.

      September 15, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • What would Perry do?

      only if you believe in sin

      September 15, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimtom

      Paul, you're delusional if you think most real world Christians understand that concept.

      September 15, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • thegadfly

      Paul: It AIN'T a sin. They AIN'T sinners. I don't think YOU understand THAT concept. Of course, if you feel that strongly about it, go smite someone.

      September 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cocoloco

      I want a passport now that says, "Straight Religious Moral Normal Male". Let's see if the Australians will change their passport! Garbage change; I am not traveling to Australia anymore!

      September 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Get Real

      'Love the sinner, hate the sin' is pure hypocrisy... just like everything else in religion...

      September 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      Wow for Australia having the reputation of being a right wing racist bible thumper paradise this is remarkable progressive. Now if they finally drop the idea for the Great Firewall of Australia they would really be on a roll.

      September 15, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ya No

      Paul: Is hate a respectable option in any case?

      September 15, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shauna

      I understand that a person can feel they are of a different gender But Gender is sometimes used in IDENTIFICATION by others. You cannot change DNA as of yet. A 3rd gender may be a bad idea.

      September 15, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • patti28

      I think some of the people who have commented should talk to staff in hospitals. Not all children are born clearly male or female.

      September 15, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SayitanitSo

    Remember Pat from SNL the poster child of gender "X"

    September 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SDTangler

    I don't know why people get so wrapped up in the label. Do you have a Johnson or a Virginia? An innie or an outie? I don't care what you do with it, if you have a Johnson, you are a MALE. Stupid waste of time & resources to create a new "X" category.

    September 15, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Becca

      And if you have both? Or if the combination you do have is unusual and indeterminate? Or you had one but are in the process of having it surgically changed to the other. Not everyone is born with one or the other or with the one that is even appropriate to their genetics, leaving the question of what you do with it entirely aside.

      September 15, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      "stupid to you, maybe. But we want to be crucified in a purely jewish area!"

      September 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • miss tang

      Some people just can't pick a lane. Anyway, this will come in handy if aliens from outer space land and they really do have a third gender.

      September 15, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      becca: "And if you have both? Or if the combination you do have is unusual and indeterminate? Or you had one but are in the process of having it surgically changed to the other."

      Nice strawman. Whether hermaphrodites exist or not has no bearing on the question. Why? Because the issue is whether people born with one set of genitals - but who think they should have another set - are not the gender they were born.

      It's akin to arguing that there are no hair colors because some people are born bald. It's a non-sequitur.

      September 15, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. goneballistic

    What about those individuals who don't know their real last name, such as Malcolm X? Or maybe they don't know their true 1rst and middle name, then they should able to sign as X X X.

    September 15, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • fastiduous

      How about KKK?

      September 15, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Leafonthewind

    Wouldn't it be nice if gender were just as irrelevant as religion and race? Oh . . . wait . . . I guess those aren't so irrelevant after all . . . never mind . . . I was in my "happy place" for a while there and believed I lived in a free country. Sigh.

    September 15, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. leeintulsa

    Maybe they should just make 'gender' optional, like race or religion.

    September 15, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. thegadfly

    Ooh! Ooh! Can I be indeterminate, too? I'm pure hetero, but all that macho crap just makes my stomach wretch. And I can't stand most romantic comedies, but I do sometimes cry during movies. Can't we just forget all the baggage and be PEOPLE?

    September 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @thegadfly: you can! And ya know which movies get me? Armageddon, where she's talking to her dad, who's about to die, and the Patriot, when the little girl talks for the first time on the beach running to her dad. Maybe it's a single dad thing..

      September 15, 2011 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ya No

      What a remarkably courageous, fair and practical idea. Unfortunately for some, it does exclude a good bit of the fun of fear and hate. Not to worry, they'd find some other reason – like you and your suggestion.

      September 15, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. micook

    I was born black in a white body! I need a melanin transplant!

    September 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JustWrong

    A person is either male or female, depending on their genetic makeup. Currently, with our state of technology, this cannot be changed. You can change the outside appearance, but that does not change what you were born as. There is no gender X, you are male or female, period.

    September 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ya No

      Thanks for setting us straight – no pun intended. I've been waiting for an intelligent, understanding appraisal of this – for some – utterly enraging 'dilemma'.

      September 15, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Not true, some people are XXY, some people may be XX but have male genitalia, some may be XY but have female, some may have both, or none.

      All kinds of things happen in the womb that are not entirely determined by DNA – and even DNA gets mixed up sometimes.

      The problem is trying to tie a person's social status to their gender appearance – especially when one doesn't fit the other.

      September 15, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Paging Dim Mak


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

    Religious haters make me sick. They are hypocrits. And yes, i know and even love a few. How can they point the finger at anything and say it's wrong, when according to goddies 'in the know', EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS is the will of god?

    September 15, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      To be sure, all haters make me sick. Religious haters just have that certain special something..

      September 15, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nah

      lee: "Religious haters make me sick. They are hypocrits. And yes, i know and even love a few. How can they point the finger at anything and say it's wrong, when according to goddies 'in the know', EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS is the will of god?"

      Can you please leave your own anti-religious bigotry off these boards?

      No one is condemning transgender people, they're questioning why Australia is changing gender specifications when gender specifications on passports are intended to provide "physical identification" of a person.

      It's almost like putting down the wrong eye color, height and weight.

      What you "feel" you are has no bearing the necessity of accurate physical information so third parties can identify you.

      September 15, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
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