Thursday, September 15, 2011

Australia Joins UK, US in offering Third Gender Passports

Australia has joined the US and the UK in making it easier for citizens to apply for passports that reflect a third gender that is neither male nor female, or a gender different from the one on their birth certificate. Trans-gender travelers who have not had sex-reassignment surgery will now be able to select their new gender on the passport application, and the process of applying for a passport designating the holder as inter-sex—neither male or female—will be simpler, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesperson, although medical documents to support the application still will be required.

COMMENT: The measure is a victory for equality campaigners in Australia, a nation with somewhat of a mixed record on gay issues. Yet, Finance Minister Penny Wong and Greens party leader Bob Brown are openly gay.

Ambiguous issues of gender became news in 2009 when world-champion runner Caster Semenya of South Africa was barred from competition by the International Association of Athletics Federations pending tests to verify that she is a woman. She was cleared to compete again in 2010.

Canada currently permits a different gender only for post-surgical transgenders, while New Zealand relies on a family court to judge a person's gender.



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