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.
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 SA, this is managed by the SA 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 SA, gender affirming surgery is not required.
In SA, you can apply to ‘record a change of sex’ if:
you are aged 18 years or older, or your parent/s or guardian are applying on your behalf
your birth is registered in SA, or you were born overseas and are a resident of SA
you have undergone “clinical treatment”, which may include or be constituted by counselling and need not involve gender affirming medical treatment.
How can you apply?
You can apply by post or in person by:
Filling out the required form, currently on the Registry website as ‘Record a Change of Sex or Gender Identity – Application’
Including a statement by a medical practitioner or psychologist certifying that you have undertaken appropriate “clinical treatment ”
Paying the required fees. It currently costs $111.00 but fees may change
What if you are under 18 years old?
If you are under 18, the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal must first approve your application. Approval may be granted if the Tribunal is satisfied it is in the ‘best interests of the child’. You must also provide the documentation listed 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
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 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. See the Australian Government Guidelines.
What you need to do
Your Medicare card
Attend a Medicare Service Centre in person and provide one of the above documents outlined in the Australian Government Guidelines
Your Centrelink file
Attend a Centrelink Service Centre in person and provide one of the above documents outlined in the Australian Government Guidelines
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.
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 South Australia
In SA, you can register or amend your gender without changing your name you will need to visit a Services SA service centre and provide:
a valid federal government travel document such as passport with your preferred gender; or
an amended state or territory birth certificate, which specifies your preferred gender; or
a Recognised Details Certificate issued by SA Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (or equivalent Australian authority) that states your gender; or
a statement from a registered medical practitioner or registered psychologist
Providing you have a supporting document from the list above, you can change your gender to one of the following:
‘M’ – male
‘F’ – female
‘X’ – this option is available if you do not identify your gender as either male or female
The Carrousel Club of South Australiaoffers a wide range of services to people with gender issues, their partners, family members and friends in South Australia. This includes assistance with changing gender status.
Shine SA provides primary care services and education for sexual and relationship wellbeing.
Trans Health SA offer the South Australian gender diverse community a resource operated, and influenced, BY the community.
This resource was last updated on 3 February 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.