Australia to offer new gender choice on passports

09/16/2011 18:42

WireUpdate:  SYDNEY (BNO NEWS) -- The Australian government will now offer a third choice besides male and female when citizens identify their gender on passport forms in an effort to remove gender discrimination, the Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported on Thursday.

Under new rules unveiled this week, those who do not identify themselves as male or female will be able to list their gender on passports as X. Meanwhile, transgender people will be able to pick whether they are male or female.

Under the old rules, passport applicants could change their status only after a sex-change operation. Now, gender reassignment surgery will no longer be a prerequisite to get a passport identifying them the way they wish. However, applicants will still need to present a statement from a doctor supporting their preferred gender.

According to Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, the reform was in line with the government's efforts to remove discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Transgender advocates said the new rules will save transsexual Australians from needless embarrassment and delays.

The Australian Coalition for Equality said people would now be able to travel overseas without being stopped by officials because their passport doesn't match their public identity. "From that point of view, it's a huge step forward," spokeswoman Martine Delaney said, as reported by the AAP.

Delaney welcomed the announcement, saying the changes would give "greater recognition" to transgender and intersex Australians. "The flow-on effects acknowledge these people are human beings with rights," she said.

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