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 WA, this is managed by the WA Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
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 and territories, this still means that trans people are required to undergo gender affirming surgery. In WA, hormone therapy treatment alone is enough.
Registering ‘change of sex’ in WA
In order to register a change of sex you will need a ‘recognition certificate’. In order to get this certificate, you will need to have had a “reassignment procedure”, defined as:
“a medical or surgical procedure (or a combination of such procedures) to alter the genitals and other gender characteristics of a person, identified by a birth certificate as male or female, so that the person will be identified as a person of the opposite sex and includes, in relation to a child, any such procedure (or combination of procedures) to correct or eliminate ambiguities in the child’s gender characteristics”
The courts have interpreted this to mean that hormone therapy alone is sufficient.
To apply for a recognition certificate:
You must be over the age of 18 or the application must be made by a parent or guardian on your behalf; and
have undergone the reassignment procedure in WA; or
have your birth registeredin WA; or
have resided in WA for not less than 12 months prior to making the application.
After receiving the recognition certificate you must wait one month before registering the certificate with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriagesand applying for a new birth certificate.
For a recognition certificate, you can apply by post or in person by:
Filling out the required form, currently on the WA Department of Justice website as ‘Application for Recognition Certificate for an Adult’ or ’Application for Recognition Certificate for a Child’.
Including the required supporting documents
Paying the required fees. It currently costs $50 but fees may change
To register your recognition certificate, you can apply by post, email or in person by:
Filling out the required form, currently on the WA Department of Justice website as ‘Application to register change of sex of adult’;
Including the required supporting documents (see below); and
Paying the required fees. It currently costs $50, but fees may change.
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?
The Department of Human Services can update your gender as male or female, but if you identify as non-binary, they can only add a note on your personal record. 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 Western Australia
In WA, you do not need to have undergone ‘sex reassignment’ surgery and/or hormone therapy to change your recorded gender on your licence.
You will need to visit a Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) centre in person and provide:
Your completed application form, ‘Change of Personal Details (Form P64),’ available on the WA Police website
A passport or driver’s licence that displays photo and signature (this can be expired, but must not by more than two years) and your residential address. Otherwise, you will also need to provide a letter from your current employer or educational institution showing your residential address
If you have undergone “sexual reassignment” surgery or you are transitioning, intersex, or wish to be identified as gender diverse, indeterminate or of an unspecified gender, you must provide one of the following:
a statement about your gender from a registered medical practitioner or psychologist
valid passport which specifies preferred gender
amended birth certificate which specifies preferred gender
If you have had surgery, you may also provide a copy of your gender recognition certificate instead of one of the above.
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.