Once in a while, it is necessary to change the gender assignment of a child born with an intersex condition or DSD, or a child’s birth certificate carries the wrong gender marker from the beginning. When this happens, parents may need help with changing the gender markers on various identity documents. Procedures vary depending on the state and on the document in question. AIC is creating materials to help parents with this process, and we will post them here as they are available. If you need additional assistance, or if you have a question that isn’t answered here, please contact AIC.

U.S. State Department Simplifies the Process Required to Change Sex Markers on Passports

The U.S. State Department has announced changes to its policies on identification documents that affect some members of the intersex/DSD community. These changes were made official on January 28, 2011.

For people with intersex conditions/DSD whose identification documents already list their correct gender, there is no change.  The new policies are only relevant to those who need to change the sex designation on their passports, or who need to get a passport with a sex designation different from the one on their birth certificates.

The recent changes to the State Department policy, drafted with the input from AIC and other organizations, eliminate discriminatory or inaccurate language from the previous policy, making it clear that people with intersex conditions/DSD who need to correct the sex markers on their passports can receive identification listing their correct gender.

There are two ways for people with intersex conditions/DSD, those who need to, to obtain a new or renewal passport listing their correct gender under the new policy:

1) Submit a statement from any licensed doctor who has treated you for “gender-related care,” or, who has “reviewed and evaluated [your] gender-related medical history.”


2) If you have a birth certificate that lists your correct gender, you can submit that document instead of a letter from a doctor.

Physical details or information about treatment history is not required.  Passport officials are also instructed to be respectful to applicants with intersex conditions or DSD, and not to ask unnecessary questions.

These changes update the June 2010 policy, which had originally made it possible for transgender people to receive a passport listing their correct gender without supplying detailed information from their medical history. Unfortunately, the original policy was apparently drafted without the aid of input from transgender or intersex/DSD community leaders, and contained some discriminatory or inaccurate language concerning intersex/DSD.

Since then, AIC has been working with our allies at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and other groups to make sure the policy would be changed to reflect the realities of our communities. By working together quickly, we were able to get some offensive language out, remove some language that just didn’t make sense for some people with intersex conditions/DSD, and get a policy through that represents a great improvement over the past.  This new policy also sets a good precedent for other situations where it may be necessary to change the sex markers on identification documents, such as the immigration documents of some children adopted internationally.

For More Information

The entire policy, in plain language with a sample doctor’s letter, is available at http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/143160.pdf.

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Center for Transgender Equality, both of whom helped us work with the State Department on the changes, have each created a guide to the new policy, and to identification document changes in general, available at http://transgenderlegal.org/headline_show.php?id=292 and http://transequality.org/Resources/passports_2011.pdf.  These resources were compiled with the transgender community in mind, but some people with intersex conditions/DSD may find them helpful.

If you have questions, or need help with this process, please contact AIC by email at info@aiclegal.org or by phone at (707) 793-1190. We may be able to help with information, resources, or other assistance.

This fact sheet offers general information only and is not intended to provide guidance or legal advice regarding anyone’s specific situation. Please bear in mind that this is an evolving area of law in which there is bound to be uncertainty.  Do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney or the appropriate agency.

© 2011 AIC