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Australian passports to have three gender options

An exciting breakthrough for Australia: the country’s passports will now have three gender options — male, female and indeterminate. This government decision is meant to help eliminate discrimination and prejudice against transgender and intersex individuals.

Intersex people, who are not biologically entirely male or female, will be able to list “X” as their gender, and transgender people will be able to choose either “male” or “female” so long as their choice is supported by a doctor. Those who identify themselves as trans will not be able to choose “X."

In the past, transgender people were allowed to choose which gender they were only based on whether they had had a sex-change operation. The United States held this same law up until last year.

Any country that complies with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s specifications for machine-readable passports can choose to introduce a gender “X.” With Canada upgrading its passports by the end of 2012, hopefully we will follow Australia’s pioneering lead.

"’X’ is really quite important,” says Australian Senator Louise Pratt. “There are people who are indeed genetically ambiguous and were probably arbitrarily assigned as one sex or the other at birth. It’s a really important recognition of people’s human rights that if they choose to have their sex as ‘indeterminate,’ they can."

Big kudos to Australia for its pioneering efforts. Peter Hyndal, who negotiated with the Australian government on behalf of A Gender Agenda, a human rights advocacy group, has said that the new passports surpass those of the US and Britain in flexibility for gender issues and are, quite simply, “mind blowing."

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