Good news today from an unlikely source… The U. S. State Department.
(June 10, Washington, DC) Last night the US Department of State announced new guidelines for issuing passports to transgender people. Beginning today, applicants for a gender marker change on their passports will need to submit certification from a physician that they have received “appropriate clinical treatment” for gender transition. Most importantly, gender reassignment surgery is not required under the new policy.
This is good news for the transgendered population and their families. It’s a small but important (and hopefully precedent setting) change in the way the government treats those who are transitioning.
The previous policy put transsexuals in a no-win position. Under the WPATH standards of care, we’re supposed to live as our intended sex full time for at least a year before being eligible for gender reassignment surgery. However our passports would continue to designate us as our previous sex until after surgery was completed (which, due to the cost and near universal lack of insurance coverage for he procedure, is typically even more than a year after living full time).
What’s more some transsexuals (particularly female to male) choose not to have surgery at all for a host of reasons (e.g. cost, health risks, dissatisfaction with current surgical options). I’ve met transsexuals who have been living as their non-birth sex for more than twenty years without surgery. You would never guess that such a person was anything other than the sex they appeared to be, and yet “officially” they were still supposed to be a member of the sex they no longer have the ability to portray. And you think your experience with airport security is annoying?
So anyway, now when I get my name, drivers’ license, and all that other crazy paperwork changed this fall, I can also get my passport updated. Then, next time we visit the North Shore of Lake Superior, we can finally take a trip to Thunder Bay, Ontario, rather than stopping at Grand Marais, MN.