Can you change your gender status on formal documents?
In most formal documents, yes. However different documents have different requirements and different gender identity options.
Unfortunately some trans and gender diverse people may have limited ability to change their gender status on some formal documents.
What steps are involved with making a change?
The steps for applying to change your gender status on formal documents differs depending on whether the document you would like to change is issued by:
1. A state or territory government organisation
2. A federal government organisation
How to change the gender on your birth certificate
Birth certificates are issued and regulated at a state and territory level. This means that the approach to changing your birth certificate to match your gender identity will be different depending on which state or territory your certificate was issued in. In NSW, this is managed by the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
However, there is a general requirement that a clinical treatment of some kind must have occurred in order to change the legal sex on your birth certificate. Unfortunately, in some states (including NSW), this still means that trans and gender diverse people are required to undergo gender affirming surgery.
You can apply to ‘record a change of sex’ in NSW if:
Your birth is registered in NSW (or, if your birth is not registered in Australia and you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you have lived in NSW for at least one year)
You have undergone a “sex affirmation” procedure. The law defines this as:
A surgical procedure involving alteration of a person’s reproductive organs carried out:
a) For the purpose of assisting a person to be considered to be a member of the opposite sex or b) To correct or eliminate ambiguities relating to the sex of the person.
You need to be over 18 to apply.
If you are under 18, your parent or your guardian may apply on your behalf.
How can you apply?
To change your gender status on formal documentation in NSW, you will need to:
Complete the ‘Record a Change of Sex Application’ form on the Registry website
Have two statutory declarations from two medical practitioners verifying you have undergone “sex affirmation” procedure
Have three forms of proof of identity (the ones required are listed on the ‘Record a Change of Sex Application’) which have been certified by an authorised witness such as a Justice of the Peace or a Legal Practitioner
Pay the application fees (currently $135 as of October 2020), and
Apply by post or in person at a Services NSW service centre.
Federal departments and agencies must take all reasonable steps to correct the gender information in their records to make sure it is accurate, up-to-date, and not misleading
You can apply to federal agencies, such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Services Australia, directly to change your gender on your personal record, or as shown on your passport
Do you need to provide supporting documentation?
Under the Australian Government Guidelines, you need to provide one of the following with your request for a change of your recorded gender:
A statement from a registered medical practitioner or registered psychologist which specifies your gender
A state or territory gender recognition certificate or recognised details certificate showing a change in sex
A valid Australian government travel document, such as a valid passport, which specifies your gender
A state or territory birth certificate which specifies your gender, or a document from an Australian Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages recognising a change of gender.
You do not need to have had surgery and/or hormone therapy for the recognition of a change of gender in federal government records. This means that even though you may not have any related medical procedures, you can still apply to correct the gender information recorded on your personal record.
No. The different departments may have different application forms and therefore varied outcomes around changing your gender identification.
What’s an example?
Services Australia can update your gender as male or female for their personal records systems. If you identify as non-binary, they can only add a note on your personal record about this. You can also tell them you prefer not to use a courtesy title such as Miss, Mr or Ms.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides for the recognition of your gender as M (male), F (female), or X (indeterminate/intersex/unspecified) on your passport. However, the Department notes that those travelling with a passport showing ‘X’ may encounter difficulties when crossing borders due to its infrequent use. In more conservative countries or areas you may become the focus of unwanted attention.
How to change the gender on your driver’s licence
The steps involved with changing your driver’s licence will vary depending on the state or territory that you live in.
What you need to do in NSW
In NSW, you will need to visit a Services NSW service centre and provide:
Proof of identity, and
One of the following:
Birth certificate showing your new gender
A List 1 proof of identity document showing your gender
A Recognised Details Certificate issued by NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (or equivalent Australian authority) that states your gender
A medical certificate confirming your gender from an Australian registered medical practitioner (surgery is not required, but you should have had, or are receiving, appropriate clinical treatment for transitioning), or
A medical certificate confirming your gender from the surgeon/clinic where the gender reassignment surgery was conducted.
This resource was last updated on 22 January 2021. This is legal information only and does not constitute legal advice. You should always contact a lawyer for advice specific to your situation. Please view our disclaimer for more information.