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 Western Australia.
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 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 somes 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:
After receiving the recognition certificate you must wait one month before registering the certificate with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages and applying for a new birth certificate.
To apply for this certificate, you, or a parent/guardian, will need to complete an ‘Application for Recognition Certificate’ form, which is available on the WA Department of Justice website. (see ‘Where to get help and more information’ further below for the link’)
How can you apply?
For a recognition certificate, you can apply by post or in person by:
To register your recognition certificate, you can apply by post, email or in person by:
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?
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.
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:
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 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.