Passport Issues for Transgender Travelers

Issues with transgender passport and their solutions

The issue of passports for transgender travelers recently made international news when a transgender Indian citizen had her US visa application temporarily suspended because her passport, which lists her gender as “T” for transgender, and her US visa application, which showed her gender as female, didn’t match. India is one of a growing number of nations, including Australia and Denmark, which allow their citizens to identify themselves as something other than male or female on their passports and other official identification.

In the United States, the State Department requires that all passport applicants list their gender as either male or female; there is no option to show gender as transgender, bigender, or agender. However, they have provided clear procedures for changing the gender listed on the passport for individuals who are transitioning from one gender to the other, or who have completed medical gender reassignment.

Changing the gender on a passport is done through the passport renewal procedure. In addition to the standard passport renewal requirements, transgender applicants must also submit an original letter from their doctor stating that they either have completed gender transition or are under treatment for gender reassignment. Sample text for the letter from the doctor is available on the State Department’s website. Applicants who have legally changed their name will also need to submit an original copy of the court order.

Transgender passport applicants will also need to ensure that their passport photo reflects their current appearance, and that the photo identification they submit with their application also shows their current name and appearance.

Travelers who have completed the gender reassignment process will be issued passports that are valid for a full 10 years, and when that passport expires, they will go through the exact same passport renewal process as cisgender applicants.

Travelers who have not yet completed their transition will be issued passports valid for only two years. If they complete the medical gender reassignment within that two years, they can submit a DS-5504 application along with an original letter from a doctor certifying that the transition is complete, and they will be issued a full-validity 10 year passport with no government fee.

If a transgender traveler needs to apply for a first-time passport or a replacement for a lost or stolen passport, they will need to submit an original letter from a doctor certifying their gender reassignment, to show why the passport should be issued with a different gender than the one listed on the birth certificate. They will also need to submit original proof of name change, if their name is no longer the same as the one on the birth certificate.

If you have any questions about changing the gender on your passport or any other challenging passport issue, don’t hesitate to contact!


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