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Civil Rights: Passports could be sex free for transgender people

Passports contain information about individuals such as their name, nationality, age and gender but for people who undergo sex-change operations, and those who are intersex, deciding which box to tick for gender can be complicated.

In response to pressure from the Liberal Democrats, the Home Office has begun a consultation to see whether it would be possible to implement a change to the system, taking into account what kind of problems it could cause for the UK Border Agency.

A spokeswoman for the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) said: "We are exploring with international partners and relevant stakeholders the security implications of gender not being displayed in the passport.

"This is at the early discussion stage and no decisions have been taken."

She added: "Any changes to the UK passport would need to satisfy our rigorous security requirements."

It has been suggested that UK passports could have a single box marked "sex" which could be marked with an X.

This would be similar to the newly introduced system in Australia where individuals will be able to choose between male, female and indeterminate, which is the option intended for intersex people (those born with both male and female reproductive organs).

Transgender people would be able to choose between male and female so long as their choice is supported by a doctor's statement, although they would not have to have surgery to prove their change of gender.

Australia's Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said: "This amendment makes life easier and significantly reduces the administrative burden for sex and gender diverse people who want a passport that reflects their gender and physical appearance."

Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone, who recently announced plans to legalise same-sex marriages, is supporting the move to change passports.

She said: "The UK Government is totally committed to creating a society that is fair to everyone. We are committed to tackling prejudice and discrimination against transgender people at home and around the world.

"We need concerted government action to tear down barriers and help to build a fairer society for transgender people."

Related links:
Read more on the story (The Telegraph)
Read about transgender people and equality (FindLaw)
Find local specialist solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)