U.S. State Department alters website about passport gender markers

WASHINGTON — The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) today reported that the language for changing markers on passports has changed.

They said that the policy remains unchanged.

The U.S. State Department page regarding “Gender Designation” policies—in place since 2010—has been removed, and a new but similar page concerning what they now call “Sex Designation” has been put in its place with significant changes. However, the underlying policy remains unchanged.

The NCTE said in a press release that these changes to the website are likely to cause confusion about the actual policy for changing gender markers. That policy can still be found in the Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual online.

The organization also gave links to an archived version of the page from just Sept. 10 and a link to the revised page.

Notable changes to the website include:

  • Links to resources from the American Medical Association and the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH) have been removed.
  • A new paragraph 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.
  • A needless paragraph has been added to the website stating, “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.
  • Most mentions of the word “gender” have been replaced with the word “sex.”

Similar changes have been made on other government websites, including the removal of LGBTQ resources.

“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, Transgender people can and absolutely should continue to update and renew their passports,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the NCTE. “That is our right and that should always be our right.”

To learn more about the requirements for updating the gender marker on a U.S. passport, please visit NCTE’s ID Documents Center. Anyone who has trouble updating the gender marker on their passport under the existing policy should contact Arli Christian at achristian@transequality.org.

As of Thursday morning, the U.S. State Department has no mention of the change.

UPDATE: The NCTE reported that the State Department had confirmed that the policy had not changed and apologized for any offensive language.

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