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Australia adds third gender to passports

Australian passports will now offer a third option to transgender people.
Sep 16th 2011, 10:53 AM 1,783 23

AUSTRALIA HAS INTRODUCED new passport rules that will allow people to select their official gender as either male, female or indeterminate.

In what the Wall Street Journal reports is an effort to boost sexual and gender equality, transgender people who haven’t had sex-reassignment surgery will be able to select an alternative gender to male or female when filling out their passport application.

Medical documents supporting the application will be required, but the amendment is intended to make life easier foreign minister Kevin Rudd said.

“[It] significantly reduces the administrative burden for sex- and gender-diverse people who want a passport that reflects their gender and physical appearance,” he said.

AFP reports that the changes, which will see an ‘x’ appear in the gender category of a passport, come into effect immediately and have been hailed as a huge step forward by senator Louise Pratt, Australia’s first parliamentarian with a transgendered partner, who was born a female but is now a man.

“There have been very many cases of people being detained at airports by immigration in foreign countries simply because their passports don’t reflect what they look like,” Pratt told ABC radio.

The changes are only expected to affect a handful of Australians, CNN reports, but it quotes Australian Attorney General Robert McClelland as saying: “It’s an important step in removing discrimination for sex and gender diverse people.”

The UN human rights chief Navi Pillay has called on more governments to follow Australia’s lead saying the country “has placed itself in the vanguard of change and has scored an important victory for human rights,” AP reports.

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Hugh O'Connell


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