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posted Friday, June 11, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 24
New passport rules for Transgender travelers
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New passport rules for Transgender travelers

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The U.S. now has more flexible passport rules for Transgender people, according to a statement issued by the State Department on June 10.

'Sexual reassignment surgery is no longer a prerequisite for passport issuance,' the statement said.

Beginning 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."

Previously, Transgender people had to demonstrate they had completed sex reassignment surgery before the State Department would change the gender on their passports.

The State Department said it was basing its new policy on the recommendations of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).

WPATH is recognized by the American Medical Association as the authority in this field.

The new policy brings U.S. gender change procedures more in line with passport regulations in other countries, as well as policies governing vehicle licenses and birth certificates in many U.S. states.

The State Department also promised that its officers would respect the personal privacy of Transgender passport applicants.

"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 that "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 change coincides with LGBT Pride Month, the department noted.

The new policy was praised by HRC President Joe Solmonese in a statement also issued June 10.

"Today's policy change will allow many more Transgender Americans to obtain an important identity document that accurately reflects their true identity and to travel with less fear of discrimination and harassment," he said.

"We thank the State Department for taking this historic step and congratulate the many organizations that have pushed for this historic change in policy."

NGLTF Executive Director Rea Carey also joined in praise for the new policy.

"The old policy regularly put Transgender people at increased risk for harassment and violence," she said. "This update will go a long way to rectify this problem. We thank the State Department for taking this important step, and all the organizations that worked together to advocate for this change."

The new passport policy was one of the changes advocated by the New Beginning Initiative, a project HRC, NGLTF and a number of other national LGBT organizations participate in.

NBI advocates for changes in federal regulations and administrative policies that help to eliminate discrimination against the LGBT community.

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