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State eases rules for changing gender on passports

By Ed O'Keefe

The State Department has revised its policy on changing passports for transgender people, announcing Wednesday night that a doctor's note will now suffice in such cases.

Previously, the State Department had required that a person undergo sexual reassignment surgery before it would change the passport. The policy had outraged transgender advocates, who called for an updated approach.

Under the new policy, which takes effect Thursday, a doctor must attest that the person is undergoing clinical treatment for gender transition, State said. Limited-validity passports will also be available to applicants in the process of gender transition, the department added.

State noted that its policy is "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."

The department also stressed that passport-issuing officials "will only ask appropriate questions to obtain information necessary to determine citizenship and identity."

The new policy is based on recommendations from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, widely recognized as a leading authority on transgender issues.

The change yields another victory for gay rights groups seeking several changes to federal policy. The timing is meant to coincide with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month and comes one week after President Obama extended more employment benefits to the same-sex partners of gay federal employees. Congress is also considering a repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays and lesbians from openly serving in uniform.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | June 9, 2010; 11:49 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments  
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I'm glad to see that State is finally changing with the times, but they're not there yet - I've been in the foreign service for 23yrs, and my diplomatic passport still has the standard endorsement "The bearer is abroad on a diplomatic assignment for the U.S. Government." I'm a man - shouldn't it say "The bearer is a dude on a diplomatic assignment...?"

Posted by: consulforlife | June 10, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Why is gender even on a passport? The change means gender has no relationship to appearance or genetics. It should be removed all together. We are all people, no more, no less.

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 10, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

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