Trump Administration Changes Passport Language on Gender Designation

While the policy remains unchanged, the move appears to have been made to muddy the waters.

The U.S. State Department has made a change to the language on its website concerning the process for changing gender markers on passports.

The site was altered earlier this week, and reported with a statement from the National Center for Transgender Equality, on a page regarding “Gender Designation” policies that had been in place since 2010, when the State Department began allowing citizens to change the gender marker on their passport without undergoing gender confirmation surgery.

The policy required on a note from a physician stating the individual had undergone “appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.”

While that remains the policy, as the NCTE noted in its release, the site has changed “gender designation” to “sex designation,” as can be seen by comparing an archived version of the old page to the updated version.

gender passport
U.S. State Department
sex designation passport
U.S. State Department

Additionally, there are no longer links to resources from the American Medical Association and the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH).

NCTE also points to a new paragraph it says “highlights burdensome provisions of the 2010 policy, specifically for two-year provisional passports for people who submit letters stating they are ’in the process’ of transition.”

Another new paragraph on the page states, “A U.S. passport does not list the bearer’s gender identity. The sex marker on your U.S. passport is based on your evidence of U.S. citizenship and identity, including a medical certification of sex change. The sex marker may not match the gender in which you identify.”

“Though this language is undesirable and uninformed, it does not change the requirements of the policy,” NCTE’s statement reads.

“While ultimately pointless, this move seems designed to frighten, confuse, and keep transgender people from exercising their full rights under the current policy—the same policy we fought for and won in 2010,” said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. “Transgender people can and absolutely should continue to update and renew their passports. That is our right and that should always be our right.”

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