Australia Adds ‘Indeterminate’ Gender Option to Its Passports

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For some Australians, traveling is about to get a bit easier.

New passport forms in Australia will be adding a third gender choice to the standard male and female options, reports the Associated Press. Citizens who are not completely male or female — known as intersex — will now be able to mark “X”, signaling that they’re of an indeterminate gender.

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While it’s true that the change will only affect a small number of Aussies — while around 4 percent of people are affected by an intersex condition, differences are often so subtle that most are never aware of it — the newest option is expected to make a big difference in the traveling lives of those who will mark X. Especially those whose old passports indicated a gender that didn’t match their appearances, which would inevitably lead to questioning and even, sometimes, detainment.

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

As for transgendered people — those who don’t identify as the sex that they were born with — they will now be able to mark either “M” or “F” in line with how they identify, as long as they have a doctor’s note. In the past, transgendered people weren’t able to switch their gender on their passport until they’d medically switched their gender through a sex change.

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