Transgender citizens of New Zealand will be able to change their gender on their passports by a simple declaration.
The new procedure came into effect on Friday (30 November) allows people to state their gender as male, female or ‘X’ (indeterminate/ unspecified), without the need to change their birth certificates or citizenship records.
Joey Macdonald, the chair of Auckland’s GenderBridge changed the gender on his passport from female to ‘X’.
He told the New Zealand Herald daily: ‘It’s amazing, it means that on this particular provision, New Zealand is leading the way and is one of the leading countries in terms of reducing barriers to having a national identity document for transpeople’.
A Human Rights Commission report recommended in 2008 that people should have the right to change their gender on their passports and other documents.
The law in New Zealand was changed in 2009 to allow changes from male to female or vice versa by a declaration from the Family Court, and a change from either gender to "X" by a statutory declaration.
A Family Court declaration is still required for a male/female gender change on citizenship documents, but it has been reported that this policy is under review.
A New Zealand passport office spokesman said gender changes on passports could now be made purely by a statutory declaration stating a person’s preferred sex or gender identity and how long they have had that identity.
The passport application form still asks people to tick either male or female and gives no indication of any other option, but the spokesman said the ‘X’ option was known to the transgender community.
A commission report stated that about 400 people have already recorded their gender as ‘X’.
Macdonald has already travelled to Australia and back with no apparent problem.