U.S. adopts new policy on trans passports

by Rex Wockner

The U.S. State Department on June 9 altered its policy on transgender people and passports.

State said it was "pleased to use the occasion of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month to announce its new policy guidelines regarding gender change in passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad."

Effective immediately, "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."

"Sexual reassignment surgery is no longer a prerequisite for passport issuance."

The department said "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."

The policy is based on the standards of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which is "recognized by the American Medical Association as the authority in this field," the State Department said.

Prior to the policy change, trans people had to undergo sex-reassignment surgery before a new passport would be issued.

"By issuing this policy change, the State Department has recognized that transgender people need to be able to travel and live with identity documents that accurately reflect who they are," said National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey. "The old policy regularly put transgender people at increased risk for harassment and violence."

Lambda Legal's Dru Levasseur said he was "grateful" for the change.

"When traveling at home and abroad, transgender people have been subject to dangerous situations because their passports did not reflect their gender," Levasseur said. "These policy changes will have a real impact on people's lives."

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