How to change your gender status on formal documents

3 February 2021

A resource for trans and gender diverse young people and their families in the NT

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 the Northern Territory.

It includes:

  • changing your birth certificate
  • changing your passport, Centrelink and Medicare records
  • changing your driver’s licence

  Not in the Northern Territory?

This resource is also available for:

VIC | NSW | QLD | SA | ACT | NT | TAS | WA

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

OR

2. a federal government organisation

See how you can change key documents below.

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 the NT, this is managed by the NT Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

However, there is a general requirement that clinical treatment of some kind must have occurred in order to change the legal sex on your birth certificate. In the NT, gender affirming surgery is no longer required.

You can apply to ‘record a change of sex’ in the NT if:

  • you are aged 18 years or older, or your parent/s or guardian are applying on your behalf
  • your birth is registered in NT; and
  • you are:
    • an intersex person (defined as someone born with physical sex characteristics that do not fit typical definitions of male and female bodies) or
    • you have received clinical treatment related to your sex or gender such as surgery, hormone therapy, or counselling.

How can you apply?

You can apply by post or in person by:

  • Filling out the required application form, currently on the Registry website as ‘Register change of sex of adult application’, which is available by clicking here.
  • Providing supporting documentation. This can either be:
    • A statement by a medical practitioner or psychologist certifying that:
      • You have received appropriate clinical treatment in relation to their sex or gender or
      • You are an intersex person
    • A recognition certificate that is issued under any law certifying that a person has a sex or gender that is different to the sex or gender specified for that person in the register
  • Proof of identification documents
  • Existing birth certificate
  • Pay the required fees. It currently costs $46 to apply.

How can parents or guardians apply on your behalf if you are under 18? 

  • An application can be made by your parents or legal guardians if they believe, on reasonable grounds, that changing your recorded sex or gender is in your best interests.   
  • You must provide consent to the change if you are aware of the meaning and implication of the change. Generally, a child aged 14 years or over is assumed to be aware of the meaning and implication of the change.  
  • The application for a child is currently on the Registry website as ‘Change of sex of a child application’, which is available by clicking here.  It requires the same supporting documentation as set out above.  

See ‘Where to Get Help and Information’ for more details.

How to change your gender on federal government documents, such as your passport, and Medicare or Centrelink records

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:

  • 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

AND

  • You can apply to federal agencies, such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the 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 specified 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. 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 system. 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.

Whereas…

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.

Driver’s licences issued in the Northern Territory do not state your gender.  If you want to change your name on your licence, you can attend a Northern Territory Motor Vehicle Registry with: 

  • Your current drivers licence (or if you don’t have one, sufficient ID) 
  • A change of name certificate issued by Births, Death and Marriages 

 See Where to Get Help and Information for more details. 

Where to get help and more information

This resource was published 03/02/2021. This is legal information only and does not constitute legal advice. You should always contact a lawyer for advice specific to your situation.

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