Thursday, September 15, 2011

Australia Makes It Easier For Gender Diverse Peeps To Get Passports

Identity document issues are a problem for transpeople all over the world, and there is great news coming from Down Under concerning theirs.. 

In line with an Australian government initiative to remove discrimination issues on the grounds of sex. sexual orientation and gender identity, the Australian Passport Office is no longer requiring genital surgery as a prerequisite for issuing a passport in a new gender..

Birth or citizenship certificates do not need to be amended in order to receive that passport in their preferred gender..

According to the Australian Passport Office website:
  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.

The letter will only be accepted from practitioners registered with the Medical Board of Australia (or equivalent overseas authority). ‘Appropriate clinical treatment’ does not have to be specified.

A full validity passport in a new sex may also be issued to applicants who have undergone sex reassignment surgery and have registered their change of sex with Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages (RBDM) or the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).

A passport may be issued to sex and gender diverse applicants in M (male), F (female) or X (indeterminate/unspecified/intersex).

There had been a 20 year policy in place at the Department of Foreign Affairs allowing transsexuals to have their preferred gender listed on a 12 month passport if they were traveling overseas for sex-change surgery which was replaced with a 10 year one after SRS.   That policy was overturned in 2007 by the Howard government and was reinstated in 2009 after an incident involving Stefanie Imbruglia, the trans cousin of pop star Natalie Imbruglia.

Stefanie not only was disrespected and issued a passport with an "M'  in the gender code, when she arrived in Thailand for her surgery the passport control officer there embarrassingly asked Stefanie in front of other passengers to account for why there was a discrepancy between her passport and her appearance. 

After completing her surgery Imbruglia took the Department of Foreign Affairs before the Australian Human Rights Commission, arguing that it had not only discriminated against her, but put her life in danger by refusing to give her a passport that reflected her identity.   The department issued a written apology to Imbruglia in addition to reinstating the old policy..

“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," said Attorney General Robert McClellan

The Australian groups who have been fighting for the policy changes on behalf of  the gender diverse community there hailed it and agreed with the AG's sentiments.

Congrats to my friends Down Under for their major victory in achieving this policy change.

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