US State Dept announces new passport rules for transgender people

June 10, 2010

Via Associated Press and others:

Surgery not required to change gender on passports

US passport - image via AFPTransgender travelers no longer will need surgery in order to change their stated genders on U.S. passports, the State Department said Wednesday.

Beginning Thursday, a transgender person applying for a U.S. passport will just need to show a physician’s certification that the applicant has “undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition” to declare a new gender on a passport, the department said.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said appropriate treatment could mean surgery for some patients and non-surgical care for others.

The State Department said there are guidelines detailing what the certification must include, but no other medical records are required. The government also said it’s possible to obtain a temporary passport if a physician’s statement shows that an applicant is in the process of gender transition.

Under previous rules, the State Department would only change the sex on passports if travelers had completed sexual reassignment surgeries, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

But Keisling said that policy put some transgender people in jeopardy when they traveled through countries where changing genders is dangerous.

The State Department says the new policy is based on standards and recommendations from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

AFP adds:

“Sexual reassignment surgery is no longer a prerequisite for passport issuance,” [the State Department] said in a statement.

From June 10, “when a passport applicant presents a certification from an attending medical physician that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition, the passport will reflect the new gender,” the statement said.

“As with all passport applicants, passport issuing officers at embassies and consulates abroad and domestic passport agencies and centers will only ask appropriate questions to obtain information necessary to determine citizenship and identity.”

The State Department said the new rules mean “it is also possible to obtain a limited-validity passport if the physician’s statement shows the applicant is in the process of gender transition. No additional medical records are required.”

Definitions of “appropriate”, anyone (“appropriate clinical treatment“, and “appropriate questions“)?


Edited to add: The State Department’s press release announcing the new policy is here.

The official document containing the full details of the policy (including details of the criteria to be met; the list of required documents; model letters, etc) is available for download from the State Department’s website – here’s a direct link to the 8-page PDF – or I’ve saved a copy locally here at BoP.


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia


One Response to “US State Dept announces new passport rules for transgender people”

  1. Brittany-Ann Says:

    This is good to hear, and I’m glad Keisling made sure to say that the old policy put people in danger.

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