(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. State Department's policy on dealing with transgendered people will allow Americans who are anatomically male but identify themselves as female to secure U.S. passports that match their gender "identity" rather than their anatomy.
The policy also allows records for births abroad to be changed to reflect the “new” gender of an individual.
“The U.S. Department of State is pleased to use the occasion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month to announce its new policy guidelines regarding gender change in passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad,” the June 9, 2010 media note states on State’s website states.
“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,” the note states. “The guidelines include detailed information about what information the certification must include.”
“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,” the note states. “No additional medical records are required.”
Sex-change surgery is not required to get a passport with an individual’s preferred gender.
“Sexual reassignment surgery is no longer a prerequisite for passport issuance,” the note states.
“A Consular Report of Birth Abroad can also be amended with the new gender,” the note states.
CNSNews.com asked the State Department the following question based on the media note: “Is the State Department issuing passports that state the sex of a person--male or female--based on gender identity rather than biology?”
Despite repeated attempts to obtain an answer to clarify State’s policy, no answer to the question was provided.
However, Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told CNSNews.com that transgender individuals who have not had sex reassignment surgery have to provide State with documentation from their physician noting their “gender identity."
State’s media note also said that the policy was 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.”
On its website, the WPATH describes itself as “an international association devoted to the understanding and treatment of individuals with gender identity disorders. … Gender Identity Disorder (GID), more commonly known as transsexualism, is a condition recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-IV, 1994, and DSM-IV-TR, 2000), published by the American Psychiatric Association. Transsexualism is also recognized in the ICD Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders, tenth revision, as endorsed by the Forty-third World Health Assembly in May 1990, and came into use in WHO Member States as of 1994.”
The treatment, however, according to WPATH is often, but not always, sex or gender reassignment surgery. But, according to WPATH and the recommendation endorsed by State, surgery is not the determining factor in an individual being a transgender.
“Sex reassignment plays an undisputed role in contributing toward favorable outcomes, and comprises Real Life Experience, legal name and sex change on identity documents, as well as medically necessary hormone treatment, counseling, psychotherapy, and other medical procedures,” the website states.
“Genital reconstruction is not required for social gender recognition, and such surgery should not be a prerequisite for document or record changes,” the website states.
The State Department’s new policy includes directions to passport specialists and consular officers about having conversations with transgenders.
“As with all passport applicants, you must be sensitive and respectful at all times,” the document states. “Refer to the applicant by the pronoun appropriate to his/her new gender.”
“Ask only appropriate questions regarding information necessary to determine citizenship and identity of the applicant,” the document states.
As reported earlier by CNSNews.com, the State Department’s new policy includes issuing a special two-year passport for the period of time the man or woman is “transitioning” to a woman or man. At the end of that time, the holder can get the passport extended eight more years if a doctor certifies sexual reassignment surgery is complete.