22 January 2021
This fact sheet answers some common questions trans and gender diverse young people, and their families, have about self-identification on formal documents.
Choices around self-identification should be respected. By reading this resource you will get a better understanding of the options in New South Wales.
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
See how you can change key documents below.
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:
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
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:
See ‘Where to Get Help and Information’ for more details.
You can change your gender on federal formal documents or records by applying to the agency that looks after the document or record that you want to change.
There are Australian Government Guidelines on recognising gender (see the link further below under ‘Where to Get Help and Information’). This means that:
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:
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. See the Australian Government Guidelines.
|Document||Department||What you need to do|
|Your Medicare card||Services Australia||Attend a Medicare Service Centre in person and provide one of the above documents outlined in the Australian Government Guidelines|
|Your Centrelink file||Services Australia||Attend a Centrelink Service Centre in person and provide one of the above documents outlined in the Australian Government Guidelines|
|Your passport||Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade||For both a new passport and/or to change your gender on an existing passport, you need to start the application process online and then print it for lodgement.
For this application, you must also provide one of the documents outlined in the Australian Government Guidelines.
If you are in the process of transitioning, you can provide a statement from a registered medical practitioner or psychologist that you have had or are receiving appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition. This should be provided on DFAT’s ‘Declaration: sex/gender of passport applicant form’.
Will every application and outcome be the same?
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.
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:
This resource was published 22/01/2021. This is legal information only and does not constitute legal advice. You should always contact a lawyer for advice specific to your situation.