Australia adds "intersex" and other gender designations to official documents

"We recognize individuals may identify... as a gender other than the gender they were assigned," said one official

Published June 14, 2013 1:24PM (EDT)


The Australian government has announced it is revising national guidelines on gender recognition and adding "indeterminate/intersex/unspecified" to the "male" and "female" designations on personal documents.

The change comes nearly five years after the Australian Human Rights Commission recommended the government expand its guidelines to accommodate greater gender diversity, and two years after Australia made similar changes to gender designations on passport forms.

In a statement on Thursday, Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said the new guidelines will ease the process by which intersex and transgender people can "ensure the gender status on their personal records matches the gender they live and how they are recognised by the community."

"We recognize individuals may identify, and be recognized within the community, as a gender other than the gender they were assigned at birth or during infancy, or as an indeterminate gender," Dreyfus said. "This should be recognized and reflected in their personal records held by departments and agencies."

The new guidelines do not require individuals to undergo sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy in order to make the changes, but people will have to submit a letter from their doctor or psychologist in order to alter their designation.

In addition to, as Dreyfus notes, enabling a "practical improvement in the everyday lives of transgender, intersex and gender diverse people," government recognition of non-binary gender expression is a huge step toward ensuring the fundamental rights, safety and dignity of intersex, transgender and gender nonconforming people.

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

MORE FROM Katie McDonough