Transgender Individuals Do Not Require Surgery to Get a Passport

Jun 10 2010 - 11:07am

The US has lightened up its passport regulations for transgender people and ended an earlier requirement that reassignment surgery precede a passport gender change. The new policy and procedures are based on standards and recommendations of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), recognized by the American Medical Association as the authority in this field, the department said.

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."

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“Transgender Americans face extreme danger when traveling abroad in the many countries that are hostile to them,” Michael D. Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), a group that advocates for the rights of transgender people, said. “Adoption of this safety-focused policy is a giant step forward in protecting transgender Americans abroad, and in fulfilling the State Department's commitment to protect all Americans when they travel, work or live overseas,” he added.

The new policy which takes effect Thursday says that a doctor must confirm that the person is undergoing clinical treatment for gender transition. Limited-validity passports will also be available to applicants in the process of gender transition, the department added.

It was noted that this policy is based on standards and recommendations of the WPATH, recognized by the American Medical Association as the authority in this field. The department also stated that passport-issuing officials will only ask appropriate questions to obtain information necessary to determine citizenship and identity.

This change is yet another victory for gay rights groups seeking changes to federal policy. The timing was planned and meant to coincide with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month and comes one week after President Obama extended more employment benefits to the same-sex partners of gay federal employees. Congress is also considering a repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays and lesbians from openly serving in uniform.

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