Thursday, 29 September 2011 04:01

Exploring Gender: A Third Gender on Passports?

Written by  Cael


Australia has introduced a new gender category on their passports: X or indeterminate for transgender or intersex individuals (Bielski). Britain is also considering this proposal (Baghdjian).According to both representatives in Britain and Australia, the change is to prevent discrimination against individuals who do not fit within traditional gender boundaries.

Allowing individuals who do not fit within male and female to choose a space which is not quite within those bounds permits them to be true to their identities, which is an important mark of individuality and acceptance. But this also singles out people who identify as this new gender category, marking these individuals as separate from the crowd. It tends to be safer to try to exist within the common boundaries, but at some point safety and identity do not intersect. There is always a careful line to walk when considering that intersect, between knowing blending in is safe and also knowing visibility and a willingness to support your own identity can create acceptance. How far can you stray from the line before either fearing your identity or risking harm?

I am unsure as to how this third gender category will be received and if it will curtail discrimination. What are your ideas regarding this change? I applaud Australia and Britain for attempting to create a safer environment for its transgender and intersex travellers. I just keep wondering if there might be a more effective way to reach that goal.

Baghdjian, Alice. “UK Home Office considers gender-free passports.” Paul Casciato. Reuters. 28 Sept. 2011. <>.

Bielski, Zosia. “Australians have third option for gender on passports.” The Globe and Mail. 28 Sept. 2011. <>.