Armchair Traveller

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Passports to offer third gender choice

Passports to offer third gender choice

X marks the spot

Have you ever considered a sex change only to be deterred by the administrative red tape?

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd recently announced that gender diverse people in Australia can now get a passport in their preferred sex, without the former prerequisite of having reassignment surgery.

"Sex and gender diverse people now have the option of presenting a statement from a medical practitioner supporting their preferred gender,” said Rudd.

"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."

Intersex people will now be offered the sexual orientation of 'intermediate' along with the standard male and female options. According to the new passport rules, this tick-box will be represented by an 'X'.

Birth certificates won't have to be altered but those who identify themselves as transgender will, as Mr. Rudd stressed, have to bring along with them a statement from their doctor.

He said the initiative is part of the federal government's commitment to remove discrimination on 'the ground of gender identity and sexual orientation'.

The US made similar changed to their policies in 2010 in dropping the necessity for surgery, while the UK already allow people to class themselves as a gender other than their gender at birth.

Is this initiative a positive one from the federal government? Will there be any repercussions?

Related: How to see 'the world' without a passport

User comments
I really don't see anything wrong with this, so long as the airlines will accept "X" when entering a persons sex from their passport information into bookings, as we need to do for anyone travelling to the USA...
Who Cares? - I suggest you look up 'genital ambiguity' and you'll find it surprisingly common for people to be born with a combination of boy and girl organs. Imagine how diffiucult life would be for someone in this position, especially when they regularly have to tick boxes which simply don't apply to them. Years ago I worked on a helpdesk for telstra and we regularly got calls from people who literally were neither male or female begging us to adjust our databases appropriately. I thought it was a great idea, or take it away altogether.
You can't be serious. With all that's going on in the world this is just screwed up. Discrimination should stop being thrown around the place at these types of matters. What do people think is going to happen when they are going against what they are naturally blessed with and who they are as a human beings. People these days are so concerned about themselves, how everything affects them, what can they do to get satisfaction, how can they make themselves feel good & all this done at whatever the cost of moral and ethical values, its rediculous. Maybe if people in the world spent more time on thinking how they could give back to others instead of how they can serve themselves they would find true happiness instead of trying to change who & what they. All the time trying to deem themselves as happy. I fear for the world my kids will grow up in & these are some reasons why I almost didn't have children. The world is becoming twisted beyond belief.
Pamela, this comment is directed towards you. First of all, this is not 'Sick', people who are Transgender often have a psychological incompatibility when it comes to their physical gender. They often feel as though they are 'trapped' in a body which is not right for them, eg, a man may feel emotionally and psychologically female, yet their gender has, in the eyes of society, told them that they are male. Society has encouraged bigotry, challenging anything that is considered abnormal. I myself am not a transgender person, however, I am educated enough to realise that this is not 'sick' but something that needs to be spoken about throughout society, including schools, and not swept under the rug. Secondly, I'm more scared of my children listening, or reading the sort of crap you, and others, have displayed, as I prefer to educate rather than discriminate. Thirdly, this is not a 'lifestyle choice' this is something that people are born with and not something to be frowned upon.
Nature is not black and white! There are variations in chromosomes defining sex. There can be variations in physical development, personality and brain function which may result in 'non-standard' appearance or behaviour pertained to the defined sex. I have some personal experience in that my father felt that he was not of the sex dictated by his biology. Around 30 years ago he had a sex change and has been living successfully and happily in the community as a female. The difficulty is that the sex change operation focuses on external physical changes. Science can't exactly replicate nature. With the new full body x-ray scanners used at airports this could possibly cause some issues for the traveller. Where there has been surgery the new passport will help provide appropriate identification which is a positive thing. Although as far as my father sees it, he now identifies totally as female and would likely prefer a passport only stating sex as 'female'.
A few of Wikipedia's sources (From the page "Intersex") suggest that people born with "ambiguous" sex has a prevalence of somewhere between 0.1% or 1.7% (depending on your definition and-or source) In either event, that suggests that somewhere between 21,874 and 371,873 Australians are victims of not being clearly defined as being Male or Female. I do remember reading articles around the social impact of these people being forced to chose an identity as either Male or Female to fit in with the rest of the population, and all of the stigma associated with that choice. Having said that, I am a computer programmer, and I'll be willing to bet that many databases and systems around the country or world will not be equipped to handle this change. It is a step in the right direction perhaps, but will not help the problem until the rest of the country catches up. But I frown at the short-sightedness that the only people that will benefit are those that voluntarily changed sex.
Intersex and gender diverse people have every right to represent themselves more accurately on their passports. I feel sorry for the narrow minded and ill informed individulas who continue to use the words "sick, not normal and lifestyle choice." You are not expected to understand, but respect that we live in a diverse society, gender diverse people deserve to have the same rights and as everyone else.
Pamela, define 'normal'. You seem the type of closed minded parent who would shun their children for being transgender or even gay. It's not a choice we make. We don't wake up one morning and decide that hey, today we want to be the opposite gender. This is a grueling mental and emotional thing many people have to deal with every day of their lives. Every day transgender people feel like a fish out of water, they feel like an alien in their bodies. Have some compassion for your fellow human beings, and talk to, or read about transgender before making such a hateful comment.
I applaud this move. As someone who has friends who would be described as transgender, for them to travel under their birth sex, especially internationally, can be extremely humiliating and confusing. And to our enlightened friend Pamela I would say this - you blatently DO care as you took the trouble to write your ill informed, narrow minded views in a public forum. I would also advise that you don't judge or inflict your views regarding a subject for which you obviously have no knowledge or experience. My point? Don't judge unless you've been there.
Unfortunately Pamela seems to see the world in black and white. Biologically, all mammals do actually have a spectrum of physical genders. Whilst there is the typically (and obviously) male and female, there is also intersex (whereby the genitals did not properly form to be obviously male or female and combine the physical structures and appearances of both). Additionally, hermaphrodites have both male and female reproductive systems (not always functional from a reproductive function). Interestingly, there is a large community in the Carribean where many of the male children are born with obvious female genitalia but upon puberty the male genetic "switch" (which did not work during embryonic development) turns on and the "girls" suddenly develop into extremely masculine body builds with all of the normally functioning genitalia. Pamela, do you wish to play "God" and tell these people that they are altering the natural order? Educate yourself before passing judgment on innocents!!

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