The U.S. State Department has announced some small but important additional changes to its policy for updating gender on U.S. passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBAs). The changes make clear that any physician who has treated or evaluated a passport applicant may certify that he or she has had appropriate treatment for gender transition. The revised policy also clarifies language and procedures to ensure that individuals with intersex condition can obtain documents with the correct gender.
In June 2010, the Obama Administration announced a new policy for updating gender markers on passports and CRBAs. For the first time, the June policy enabled transgender people to a passport that reflects their current gender without providing details of specific medical or surgical procedures. Instead, applicants could provide certification from a physician that they had received “appropriate clinical treatment” for gender transition. This policy was the result of years of advocacy, and represented a significant advance in providing safe, humane and dignified treatment of transgender people.
The policy announced in June was a huge step forward, but it was not perfect. It contained rigid and unnecessary restrictions on which physicians could write supporting letters for applicants, and contained confusing provisions regarding people with intersex conditions. With input from NCTE and other organizations, the Department moved swiftly to clarify and improve the policy. The passport policy as it now stands represents a model that other federal agencies, such as the Social Security Administration and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, should move swiftly to adopt.
NCTE has prepared a revised resource that fully explains the new guidelines and outlines the ways in which transgender people can make changes to their passports and CRBAs. We are thankful for our colleagues at the Council for Global Equality, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Lesbian Rights for their wonderful collaborative work on this vital issue.