Apparently, I’ve got it wrong on passports for transgender people. Geez, I was wrong…what a surprise there!
Seriously, my friend Abby, who in the brick-and-mortar world is an attorney, left this comment in the Pam’s House Blend thread for the The Prep Work I’m Doing To Get A Passport Under New State Department Rules diary.
I think you are misreading the State Department’s new gender change policy. The policy states:
A full validity U.S. passport will be issued reflecting a new gender upon presentation of the following: A signed original statement, on office letterhead, from the attending medical physician (internist, endocrinologist, gynecologist, urologist or psychiatrist) * * * stating the applicant has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to the new gender ….
(Section b(1) and b(1)(g), P. 2, emphasis added). In contrast, a “limited validity,” i.e., two-year, passport is issued when the physician is only able to state that “the applicant is in the process of gender transition to the new gender ….” (Section b(2)(b), P. 3, emphasis added). In other words, the two-year passport is for those who have not yet completed “the appropriate clinical treatment” necessary to obtain a full validity, i.e., standard 10-year, passport. (Of course, it’s important to note that it is between the trans person and her/his physician to determine what treatment is appropriate for her/him to transition, without interference or restriction by the State Department.)
I believe this is how NCTE, which worked closely with the State Department in developing this new policy, interprets it. NCTE’s recommended language for the physician’s statement recognizes this distinction, with the more limited language to be used by those applying only for the two-year passport. See NCTE, Understanding the New Passport Gender Change Policy, June 2010, p. 2. NCTE’s explanation also states, “If you are just beginning transition and need to travel abroad, you can obtain a two-year provisional passport.” (p. 1)
Obviously, you’re way beyond the beginning stage of transition and should have no trouble in obtaining a full validity passport showing your correct gender.
And on my Facebook page for the Pam’s House Blend article I wrote, there was this note from Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center For Transgender Equality:
I think there is some confusion about the difference between requirements for full ten year passports and provisional two year passports. Neither type requires “genital surgery.” Ten year passports require a letter saying you have had “appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.” Technically, the provisional passport is for people who have not completed the aforesaid treatment. However, it is our interpretation that if you and your Dr. believe you have had appropriate treatment for you, even if that does not yet or ever include genital surgery, you qualify for a full ten year passport. I cannot imagine a specific circumstance in which a transperson should apply for a provisional passport.
Egads, I got this wrong. I was in part working off the Time Magazine‘s take on the new passport policy:
For decades, the State Department had required that transgender individuals, who identify with a gender other than their physical sex, have “sexual reassignment surgery” – a term that doesn’t have a clear definition in the medical community – before they were permitted to change their passport listing. Now a note from their physician stating that they have undergone clinical treatment for a “gender transition” will net them a new passport valid for two years. (Regular passports are good for 10.)
Okay, I have to get a new letter written with the phrase “appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition” in it. Emailed my doc already, and I’ll have my new letter in January. Since it’ll probably take at least that long for my official birth certificate copy to arrive in the mail, getting a new letter won’t be much of a delay, but it has been another hoop to jump through. To quote a phrase I used often in the military: “Life is hard, then I whine.”
So thank you, Abby and Mara — Getting my new passport under the new rules has been quite a learning experience. But, even though this is a difficult slog to get a new passport with a gender identifier that matches my gender identity, I’m quite aware that for many trans people in the United States, a passport may be the only path to getting an identification document with a gender identifier that matches one’s gender identity.
* The Prep Work I’m Doing To Get A Passport Under New State Department Rules
* BREAKING Blend exclusive: State Department issues gender change policy for passport applications
* Foreign Affairs Manual Requirements For Passport Change Of Gender
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