Thursday, 15 September 2011

Australian Passport Regulations to Reflect Gender Complexities

Gender and biological sex are not simple matters of binary opposites. It is simply not true that we are all either male or female. A small but significant proportion of people are born with one or other intersex condition (although the deviance from male or female norms may be so small, they may not even be aware of it). Others   may experience a disconnect between their biological sex and their experienced gender identity, leading them to a journey of gender transitioning. For all these, myopic bureaucracies that attempt to force everybody into simple "male" or "female" categories consistent with birth certificates create real problems. 

Now, in a welcome move, Australia is introducing changes to its passport procedures that move towards greater recognition and accommodation for the complexities of gender in the real world. For intersexed people, there will in future be a provision for a "neither" category, in addition to the usual "male" and "female". For those who are undergoing gender transition, regulations permit applicants to identify themselves either by birth sex, or by the new gender identity - according to choice.
"In an effort to boost sexual and gender equality, Australia will make it easier for its 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.
Transgender people who haven't 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 intersex—neither male or female—will be simpler, the government said." 
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